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Old 02-20-2012, 05:57 PM   #1
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Default A Tallgrass Prairie Seedbank.

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The Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank here at the Chicago Botanic Garden collects and banks native plant species from the tallgrass prairie region for long-term conservation and use in restoration projects and research.




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Old 02-26-2012, 05:38 PM   #2
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I'd love to restore our two acres using locally collected seeds. Where does one find them?
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Old 02-26-2012, 05:54 PM   #3
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Also, in the past few years, I've been growing seeds collected from natives I have in our yard--some naturally occuring ( ), some from Western PA (farther away than I now consider ideal), and some from plants purchased at nurseries or native plant sales. More and more I'd like to buy or grow things that are from local sources...but, still in moments of weakness, I will buy some from farther away than I'd like.

This year, I really collected a lot of seed and had a friend send me some swamp milkweed seeds he'd purchased from a PA source. I'm thinking about growing some seeds of various plants to donate to a local native plant sale this year.
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:56 AM   #4
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Disappointing news: of the seeds collected from our yard and sown indoors (and which spent several weeks in cold storage on an unheated porch), so far only three gaillardia (from a cultivar) and one butterfly weed have sprouted. They were planted about two weeks ago, so there's still time. Of course, I did plant seeds from various native grasses in pots outside, so we'll see what happens to those when the weather is consistently warmer.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:37 AM   #5
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Disappointing news: of the seeds collected from our yard and sown indoors (and which spent several weeks in cold storage on an unheated porch), so far only three gaillardia (from a cultivar) and one butterfly weed have sprouted. They were planted about two weeks ago, so there's still time. Of course, I did plant seeds from various native grasses in pots outside, so we'll see what happens to those when the weather is consistently warmer.

I hope you find more success as the weeks go by.

I always plant mine outside (usually in February, because I'm a procrastinator...this year, I'm later than usual). I assume that going through the freezing and thawing of spring helps with germination. In the three years I've been doing this, I've had great success.

I think I had a few little bluestem seeds planted last year, but didn't see any come up. So far, I've used a mix of all of my seeds--I'm going to have to start separating them by species and plant them all separately to really know what succeeds and what fails. I am trying some more grass this year.

Let us know how things progress.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:00 AM   #6
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dapjwy, being active in local projects has been where many of the seeds I use have come from.Connections keep me informed to when native sales are happening.
A friend collects a few seed from natives along a ditch and railroad some seasons where seedlings from a nearby preserve seem to have spread. Everything is often cut down before it can seed but she wanders there often and sometimes gets a few goodies. She is really good at field ID.
My daughter brought me some seed from a friends place where they fish. Nearby was flowers she thought looked like what I might plant. She took pictures and next time out asked if they could take a few seeds. Networking my friend, it helps.

Rebek56, don't give up just yet. Some of my seeds don't germinate until April or May. Even the Chicago Botanic Garden staff that starts the seeds for the Native Seed Growers group has years were some species just don't germinate well.
I have some Baptisia that I intend to plant this weekend. First I will pour very hot water ovrt the seeds and let them cool in the water. This has helped improve germination rates for baptisia in the past so some always get this treatment before planting. I read how to do this in an article by Tony Avent of Plants delight. That cup does not have to be styrofoam Tony...


Baptisia, False Lupine, Spring-flowering, Perennial, Native plants, Sun

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Fresh sown Baptisia seed germinates quite easy and quite fast...usually in two weeks. Old stored seed, on the other hand is very difficult and slow to sprout. I recommend that all old Baptisia seed be placed in a Styrofoam cup and doused in boiling water and allowed to cool prior to planting. This will begin to break down the seed coat and encourage germination. We have even tried this on seed that was sown but showed sporadic germination. Un-germinated seed were sifted from the potting mix, drenched with boiling water, and resown, with amazing results.
If you are having trouble with a particular species looking up a few tips can help.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:51 AM   #7
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dapjwy, being active in local projects has been where many of the seeds I use have come from.Connections keep me informed to when native sales are happening.

A friend collects a few seed from natives along a ditch and railroad some seasons where seedlings from a nearby preserve seem to have spread. Everything is often cut down before it can seed but she wanders there often and sometimes gets a few goodies. She is really good at field ID.
My daughter brought me some seed from a friends place where they fish. Nearby was flowers she thought looked like what I might plant. She took pictures and next time out asked if they could take a few seeds. Networking my friend, it helps.
Great advice, Gloria.

The first year we moved here, I did a *little* networking with one woman from a local group that was having a native plant sale. If I can pull myself away from my project to volunteer there, it might be well worth my while. I think growing some natives to share with this group might be a great way to open up my network!
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:34 PM   #8
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Patience is definitely required with native seed. At the Bartel Grassland in southern Cook County (as opposed to the Karl Bartel Wildlife Sanctuary Land and Water Reserve further down state) where I do volunteer work, there was a tremendous amount of native prairie seed sown starting in 2002, and it took about five years for us to really start seeing significant results. Now we see more and more new species every year as well as larger numbers of each species. Now, 10 years after our start, we're beginning to see that our plants that grew from the initial seed sowings are beginning to spread as a result of them dropping seeds.

Some things take a lot longer to show up too. In 2010, we saw our first specimens of Great Blue Lobelia and Cardinal Flower, a few dozen individual plants scattered over a few hundred acres. Just one year later during a walk along the trail that goes around the preserve periphery, our head steward counted more than 1,000 blooming plants of Cardinal Flower just along the trail. We've had some very wet summers here in recent years, and I suspect that the Cardinal Flower seeds may have laid dormant for a few years before we had conditions that were right for them to sprout and mature.

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Old 03-08-2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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The rudbeckia, gaillardia, and asclepias have started to sprout indoors--no grasses in the pots outside yet.
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:23 PM   #10
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Patience is definitely required with native seed.

...In 2010, we saw our first specimens of Great Blue Lobelia and Cardinal Flower, a few dozen individual plants scattered over a few hundred acres. Just one year later...our head steward counted more than 1,000 blooming plants of Cardinal Flower...
I'm *fairly* patient...it has been about three years, and things are starting to take off...but it will be interesting to see things coming up from seeds growing where I didn't plant them.

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The rudbeckia, gaillardia, and asclepias have started to sprout indoors--no grasses in the pots outside yet.
Congratulations.

I hope you get the grasses to grow too.

I planted most of my collected seeds...and have them outside, so it will likely be a while before they start to sprout. Just typing this is starting to get me excited. I want to see large swaths of wildflowers instead of a few patches lost in the expanse. Hopefully before too long I'll have that. I think I will have to end up preparing large sections and seeding them on a large scale eventually...but for now, I'm enjoying growing my own seedlings to plant on the edges of the property. Maybe in a year or two I'll be able to collect enough seeds from those already growing on the property to supplement the seeds I'll have to purchase of species I don't already have.
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