seeds

12 Native Flowers, Easy from Seed

Bee pollinating partridge pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata

I vividly recall watching my first marigolds and zinnias sprout, grow, and flower once upon a long-ago summer. As summers came along, I had further easy victories with cosmos, poppies, bachelor’s buttons, nasturtiums, sunflowers, and morning glories. The adults in my life wisely gave me easy seeds. Success bred confidence and good memories.

But looking back, I can’t ignore the facts: None were native plants. Plants with regional roots were simply not part of the conversation.

Want less lawn work? Start with the seeds.

Low-mow lawn from Eco-Lawn seed, Wildflower Farm.

If you are a lawn owner, perhaps you’ve wondered if there’s a way reduce the commitment and still have healthy grass. According to some in the turf industry, there is—and it starts with the seeds.

We’re not talking here about a conventional lawn gone feral, nor the patchy grass that some call “freedom lawns” or “organic by neglect.” These seed mixes bear labels such as “low-mow,” “low-work-and-water,” or “drought-tolerant.” What do we need to know in order to shop wisely for these low-input lawn seeds?

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Understanding seed descriptions

Seed descriptions

They're so small, but not so simple. Seeds seem as though they should be easy to buy, but there is actually a lot to know.

There's treated and untreated seed, referring to the use of materials and processes to reduce the incidence of bacteria and diseases that are carried by the seed to the next generation of plants. There are organic, ecologically grown, and conventional seeds. What’s this about patented varieties? And how do we sort out discussions of germination rates, disease-resistance, and performance under various weather conditions?

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