Grow Native Plants from Seed
for Your School Garden or a Fundraiser
Growing native plants from seed is easy and can teach students what plants need in order to grow from a seed into a plant and about the different pollinators that each plant supports.
Please contact us to order your free seed packages.
WINTER SOWING ALLOWS TO SOW
Sow your seeds in recycled containers in the classroom, attach the lids, keep them in a shaded area outside.
Once it gets warmer watch how the seeds germinate and grow into seedlings.
Winter sowing is a fun method that uses mini-greenhouses to speed up the growing process of the plants. The plants will be very abundant, healthy and ready to be transplanted in June.
You can find a very detailed video by Dolly Foster, a Master Gardener, on Wintersowing.
Collect strawberry plastic containers or any
Containers must have a matching lid made of clear (see-through) plastic. Both, the top and bottom need to be at least 3 inches deep. The containers of salad greens or strawberries are ideal.
Have an adult punch holes in the bottom of the container as well as the lid if not already present. These will serve as drainage and ventilation holes. Holes need to be big enough for water to drain out, and for snow and rain to come in.
You will also need regular potting soil, a pair of scissors, and packing tape.
Moisten potting soil ahead of time
Most of the time potting soil comes very dry and needs quite some time to absorb water. Therefore it is best to add a generous amount of water to the soil a day or two before the project and let the soil soak the water up evenly.
Mix it up so that all of the soil is moist. The soil should be wet enough to hold together when squeezed, but not dripping wet.
Fill containers with soil and sow seeds
Fill the container with soil. Tap the entire container onto the table to settle the soil and add more to get a nice thick layer of soil. This will allow for a healthy root system to grow.
Scatter seeds on top of the soil. Most small or thin native seeds need light to germinate, including milkweed. Therefore just press them onto the soil gently so that they have contact with the soil and stay moist. Only thick seeds need to get covered with a little bit of soil.
After sowing add a little extra water so the top 2 cm of soil is nice and moist. Best by spritzing or using a gentle stream from a watering can. (You could also add a layer of snow.) By having the soil well-watered you will not have to worry about the plants until spring.
Using a sharpie or other water-proof marker, label the container with the date, class, and name of the plant. Even by using permanent markers, the writing can be washed away therefore it is best to put tape over the writing.
Seal the containers and place them outdoors
Seal the container firmly with strong packing tape or duct tape.
Place the container outside in a shaded location where rain and snow can fall on the containers.
Check on them occasionally to make sure they are upright.
Also, check that they are not drying out which is very unlikely because the water in the system is recycled constantly through condensation.
Watch them grow
Until you can remove the lids keep the containers in a mostly shaded spot or one that doesn't receive midday sun that the sun doesn't heat the little greenhouse up to extreme temperatures.
Starting in March keep an eye on it. If there is a warm day “out of the blue”, take the lid off and put it back before going home. Gradually you can but you don't need to take the lid off on any warm days.
Once a few centimeters of growth have started and nighttime temperatures are above freezing take the lid off so the seedlings get more light, better airflow, and don’t overheat.
Once the lid is off you need to watch that they stay moist, but not wet, and never dry out.
After a week of keeping the lid off, you can gradually put them in sunnier and sunnier locations.
Lots of seedlings!
In May and June, the seedlings will have outgrown their container and it is time to divide them.
Plant them into larger pots. See the up-potting process below. This could be a good time for interested students to take some of the bounty home for their own gardens.
Just before the end of the school year, the seedlings can be planted into the garden.