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Old 02-19-2014, 11:28 PM   #11
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Ellen, there are several in my gardens that have sown volunteers successfully. That indicates you should have a decent chance of them working with direct sowing. I just don't have luck with volunteers, generally, or direct sowing, so it impresses me when something succeeds like that. In my garden, verbena bonariensis is a prolific self-seeder. It is native to South America, not North America, although it has naturalized throughout the warmer zones. It is a perennial through about zone 7, unreliably perennial in zone 6. But it grows and blooms from seed in a year, so even where it's not perennial you'd hardly know it. It can become almost a weed, so read about it and make sure you really want it before you plant it. Or don't let it go to seed until you know if you want more of it! That said, it's easy to pull. The thing that I love about it (and why it has stayed in my garden even though it's not native) is that it's a butterfly magnet. And I was thoroughly charmed one evening when I watched a pair of goldfinches spend a tremendous amount of time working their way through the plants. It blooms clear up until and even past a killing freeze, so it is flooded with butterflies, flies, and native bees in the fall. So, with those caveats of it not being native and with it being a prolific seeder, I recommend it.

Another perennial which has sown volunteers for me is echinacea purpurea. I think you could expect to have success with that when directly sown.

Rudbeckia fulgida. That has volunteered itself now. I planted the original couple plants and it pops up here and there. Last year I had one plant bravely flowering in the very middle of the yard. I carefully mowed around it most of the summer. One day, though, my husband didn't. Oops.

And, as I think about it, teucrium canadense has also grown for me from direct sowing. The culture information always talks about how it likes it moist soil, but let me caution you: as a member of the mint family, if you give it moist soil, it will turn into a thug. When kept in a fairly dry location, it behaves itself quite nicely and is quite able to tolerate drought. The same is true of oenothera speciosa. I would advise you to NOT sow oenothera speciosa unless you are going to put it into a dry spot or unless you like a bed that is a monoculture. Admittedly, it is spectacular in a mass when blooming.

And, finally: solidago (multiple species) and heath asters. Those are so successful at direct sowing that I never even sowed them. They just showed up as volunteers and I will be fighting them until I die or move.

Ellen, you might consider the container winter sowing that I was talking about. It has all the advantages of direct sowing but you also have more control. Birds or small animals won't eat the seeds, the seeds won't wash or blow away, etc. They get the stratification they need because they are outside, just in a protected container. You might want to try it with just a few seeds, just to see if you like it, or to double your chances of success with a plant you want to make sure you have success with.
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:34 AM   #12
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Weighing in, I've grown "Lady in Red" and "Coral Nymph" annual salvias. Hummingbirds love them both (almost as much as they love lonicera sempervirens); they've never hybridized, but "Coral Nymph" sometimes reseeds itself, so you need to cut off the blooms before seeding if you want to avoid that. In my garden, though, rudbeckia and echinacea eventually choked out the seedlings, so they probably would in your space, too.
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Native View Post
It's a reflex: I normally disregard annuals because I hate planting stuff. With perennials, I plant once and then have years of blooms. (I never count on a lot of success with annuals reseeding themselves). So, it was a bad habit that did it this time. I'm hoping the 2 annuals I did sow will reseed and effectively act as perennials for me.
I would expect that the native annuals would reseed themselves if they are in the right conditions. Some annuals might require soil disturbance to keep them coming back in large numbers.

Personally, I really like Erigeron spp.

And if you have a moist area, you may want to consider touch-me-not (Impatiens spp.)

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Dapjwy, I'd feel better writing about it once I'm successful, so that will be a while. That said, I've winter sown before with great success but I'm doing it a bit differently this year so there is still an element of the unknown about it... What I've done is get cheap Sterilite shoe boxes for $0.88 apiece, drilled 3 holes into each, and filled them 3-4 inches deep with my soil-less potting mix...

...The plan is to plant "hunks" of the seedlings when it's time. A shoe box's worth of seedlings, divided into one inch squares yields 112 "hunks" of seedlings that can be planted or 28 2-inch-square hunks. That's also something that will be new for me. In years past, I laboriously teased apart all the seedlings and potted them up to grow on for a while before putting them into the garden. Potting up took a tremendous amount of time and by the time I got done I had a lot less enthusiasm about then planting them in the garden! So, this time it's straight into the garden for most of them. I'm nervous about it but veterans of this method swear by it...

So instead I've sown that seed mix in tubs and I'll be planting "hunks" of prairie on my new berm. Whatever plants I don't use in the border will go into the berm. I don't know why, but it just tickles me to no end when I think of my "prairie in a tub." I will try to remember to take some pictures to share with you all as the seedlings sprout and as I plant the berm and border.
How cool and how interesting--I did the exact same thing last year (using the plastic Sterlite shoeboxes--although I paid $1.00 each for mine)...and I'm suppose to plant more this weekend. Before that, I was using plastic window box containers left by a previous owner. Now I have too many seeds to us just them. I don't put mine in larger containers like you do. After drilling holes in the side (near the bottom), I fill mine with soil (not to the top), plant seeds, and then cover them with snow. I let the freezing and thawing and spring rains do the rest--only watering when necessary.

I love the idea of the berm. I look forward to pictures when you have time.

This year, I'm hoping to direct seed some sections--if I can get them prepared in time.

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Originally Posted by Missouri Native View Post
You did give me an idea, though, Dapjwy: while the two different salvias will overlap in bloom times about mid-summer, there's no reason I couldn't give the annuals a haircut about the time my native perennials start blooming. That would allow me to get the best of both salvias, so to speak-- just not at the same time. The annual salvias would recover from their "haircuts" and resume blooming once my natives were done. I can live with that! So thanks for the idea!
Cool. I hope it works out.

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Sorry I ended up writing that book I said I didn't want to inflict upon you all!
I asked for it...and enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.
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