Lomatium californicum seed tray

Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds provides seeds for native plant research at universities, botanical gardens, commercial nurseries, non-profits, and other professional fields; however, our largest customer base is composed of those who are propagating native plants in a home or homestead nursery on a small scale. Many have never grown native plants from seed before, but we’re here to help everyone succeed at growing the native plants they love from the wild. Grow Native, Grow Wild!

Basic Seeding Methods for the Native Home Nursery

When it comes to growing native plants on a small scale or in a home or homestead nursery, there are many methods one can take to propagate the seeds purchased from Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds. Small scale, DIY native plant propagation can be a fun and productive way to add native plants in your landscaping, or to increase native plant diversity on your land. Whether you want to grow a couple plants, or hundreds of plants, the methods we highlight may help your project succeed!

Large, commercial native plant nurseries utilize high-tech equipment to propagate native plants: soil mixers, seed flat fillers, seeding machines, dibblers, conveyor belts, misters, fertilizer injectors, walk-in refrigerators, seedling heat mats, etc. Even without all this equipment, however, home nurseries can still grow some amazing plants! Using simple methods you can grow like the pros in an efficient and inexpensive way. Home nurseries can use available containers already on hand to propagate native seed, or can purchase or reuse specialized containers specific for the species you are growing. From a tablespoon of seed placed in a single gallon-sized pot, to a dozen seed trays or a few seed flats, any size seed project will get you on your way to growing native plants.

perliteThe native home nursery can use bulk soil from soil suppliers, or readily available bags of soil from nursery supply stores or garden centers. Keep in mind that many very drought tolerant native plants will need extra drainage in the soil mix in order to prevent the roots from rotting. Adding extra perlite or pumice to the mix can give you the extra drainage needed to successfully grow native drought tolerant plants in containers.

Many of you may have developed your own tried and true methods over the years that work well for you. Everyone does things a little different and these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg — there’s always so many more exciting ideas out there! Experimentation is the key to successful native plant propagation.

Nurseries can use a lot of plastic, and with serious issues with plastic pollution around the world, it’s best to clean and reuse as many nursery supplies as possible. While growing native plants for the benefit of nature, we should be very conscious of the amount of garbage produced. If you need to purchase new containers or seed starting trays and other nursery supplies, Stuewe & Sons in Tangent, Oregon is a good place to find what you need.

The following seed sowing methods and options should be taken after learning the specific seed germination requirements for the species you are growing. Each product page we feature has seed germination requirements listed below the species description. Our seed packets also come with seed germination requirements right on the packets. For more information about seed germination please check out the links on our Seed Propagation page on our website.

Sowing Many Seeds in Single Containers

This method uses a single container to grow many seedlings for transplanting. Any size container will work, depending on the plant species. Seed is sprinkled onto the soil medium with the expectation that many seedlings will emerge within the single container. The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface. 

Transplanting is normally done when two to three true leaves have developed. Transplanting involves “pricking out” the seedlings after loosening the soil medium around them. This method works well for species with fibrous root systems that are easy to transplant, but is not recommended for taprooted species that can be more difficult to transplant.

Pros: Sowing many seeds into single containers and “pricking out” transplants saves space in the nursery and is less work up front. Many plants can be grown from seed originally sown into only a single container.

Cons: If seed is sown too thickly dense seedlings can be susceptible to “damping off” and other diseases. Transplanting and “pricking out” can be laborious and time intensive.

Label your containers as you sow seed in them. It’s good to put the seed source information on the labels, along with the sowing date and any other relevant information you want to keep track of.

Seed Trays

There are many types of seed starting trays, with varying size cells and soil capacities. Starting seeds in seed trays is probably the most familiar method of native seed propagation. In this method either a single seed or several seeds are sown into individual cells within the seed tray. If several seedlings emerge within a single cell they can all be retained for a fuller plug, or they can be cut and thinned to a single seedling. Placing more than one seed per cell ensures at least one seed germinates in each cell.

The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface.

Transplanting is normally done when two to three true leaves have developed. 

Pros: Each plug can be easily removed individually and transplanted into a larger container. Damage to roots is unlikely during transplanting if done with care.

Cons: Seed trays can take up a lot of space in the nursery. Some taprooted species may require deep seed trays to prevent transplant shock and/or root deformation. Most seed trays are 2.5″-3″ deep, but taprooted species may do better in deeper trays, like 5″ deep.

Seed Flats

Utilizing seed flats is similar to sowing seeds into individual containers, however, flats are generally larger and more shallow. Seed is sprinkled onto the soil medium with the expectation that many seedlings will emerge within the seed flat. The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface. 

Transplanting is normally done when two to three true leaves have developed. Transplanting involves “pricking out” the seedlings after loosening the soil medium around them in the seed flat. This method works well for species with fibrous root systems that are easy to transplant, and is not recommended for taprooted species that can be more difficult to transplant, but experimentation is always good.

Pros: Sowing many seeds into seed flats and “pricking out” transplants saves space in the nursery and is less work up front. Many plants can be grown from seed originally sown into a single seed flat.

Cons: If seed is sown too thickly dense seedlings can be susceptible to “damping off” and other diseases. Transplanting and “pricking out” can be laborious and time intensive.

Small Pots

Much like a many-celled seed tray, placing many small pots into a tray and sowing seeds in them can also be a good way to grow individual plants without crowding. Any size small container can be used for this method. Do you have a lot of 4″ pots around from purchasing plants from nurseries or from veggie starts? Put them to use growing native plants!

Sow one to a few seeds per individual small container. The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface. 

Pros: Small plants can be grown directly into a container that can then be transplanted directly into the ground or upsized into a larger container. Root damage and transplant shock are minimized.

Cons: More soil is needed upfront to germinate seeds in individual small containers. This method takes up more space for germinating seeds than seed trays.

Pony Packs

Lupinus albicaulis seed tray
Seeding pony packs with native seeds

People that buy vegetable starts in the spring end up with a lot of extra pony packs that can then be reused to grow native plants.

In this method either a single seed or several seeds are sown into individual cells within the pony pack. If several seedlings emerge within a single cell they can all be retained for a fuller plug, or they can be cut and thinned to a single seedling. Placing more than one seed per cell ensures at least one seed germinates in each cell.

The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface.

Transplanting is normally done when two to three true leaves have developed. 

Pros: Each plug from a pony pack can be easily removed individually and transplanted into a larger container. Damage to roots is unlikely during transplanting if done with care.

Cons: Pony packs may be too shallow for some taprooted species that require deeper seed trays to prevent transplant shock and/or root deformation.

Tubes

Most home nurseries don’t have tubes on hand, however, if you find yourself with tubes you’ve bought from other nurseries, or were given tubes by someone to reuse, they are a great way to grow species that require a deep container, like taprooted species, or other species that are difficult to transplant.

In this method either a single seed or several seeds are sown into individual tubes. If several seedlings emerge within a single tube they can all be retained for a fuller plug, or they can be cut and thinned to a single seedling. Placing more than one seed per tube ensures at least one seed germinates in each tube.

The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface.

Pros: Great for taprooted species that need a deeper container for taproot growth. Individual plants can be grown in each tube, witch can then be easily planted in the ground or transplanted into a larger container when ready. Damage to roots is unlikely during transplanting if done with care.

Cons: Tubes require special trays to hold them, which can take up a lot of space in the nursery. Tubes and their trays can be expensive to purchase brand new.

Ellepots or Jiffypots

Ellepots and Jiffypots are examples of premade miniplugs or small-volume, mostly biodegradable containers that you can purchase for starting seeds. Products like these have fully or mostly biodegradable wrappers  and the entire plug can be transplanted, eliminating transplant shock and preserving healthy root structure. Take note that not all products like these are eco-friendly. Jiffy pellets (a type of Jiffy pot) have nylon mesh that is photo degradable that can break down in several years, but it is still a plastic product.

In this method either a single seed or several seeds are sown into Ellepots or Jiffypots. If several seedlings emerge within a single pot they can all be retained for a fuller plug, or they can be cut and thinned to a single seedling. Placing more than one seed per pot ensures at least one seed germinates in each pot.

The seed should be lightly covered with sieved potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum peat moss, poultry grit or nursery grit, depending on the species. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds twice as deep as the seed is wide. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should remain uncovered on the soil surface.

Pros: Ellepots and Jiffypots come premade and are easy to work with. After roots fill out the pots the entire pot can be transplanted without transplant shock.

Cons: Special trays may be required to hold Ellepots or Jiffypots, and the product is expensive and needs to be shipped to you unless you can purchase them at a local nursery supply stores. This method isn’t for everyone and a small trial run should be made before investing heavily in Ellepots or Jiffypots. Also, make sure the soil mix is right for the species you will be growing. Jiffy pellets are primarily composed of peat moss, which is beneficial for some species but not for others.

Sowing seeds vs. germinates (i.e. sowing sprouts)

Depending on the species being grown, some people prefer to germinate seed prior to sowing the seed. Seed germination requirements are followed to trigger seed germination and then germinates are individually planted into containers. This ensures that each container will have a viable plant, without the risk of germination failure, wasting less soil and creating a more uniform planting. This method is definitely not necessary, but it may be worth a try if you are unsure about the germination success of a certain seed lot, and you just want to be sure each container has a viable, germinating seed.

Pros: There is a higher seedling establishment rate and less soil wasted on “blanks” or seed that doesn’t germinate.

Cons: It is more work up front to germinate seeds ahead of sowing.

Nursery Manual For Native Plants: A Guide for Tribal Nurseries

Seed Germination and Sowing Options

For more detailed information on seed germination and sowing options you may find the following link helpful:

https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_series/wo/wo_ah730/wo_ah730_133_151.pdf

Happy Planting!

If you have any further questions email us at klamathsiskiyou@gmail.com

Arbutus menziesii_Pacific madrone

New Products

Arbutus menziesii_Pacific madrone
Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii) berries can be strung and dried for natural holiday decorations. Garlands and strings of red madrone berries are perfect for a Christmas tree or an eco-friendly necklace gifted under the tree.

Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds provides specialized native plant seed packets sourced straight from nature. We wildcraft (i.e. collect from the wild) native plant seeds from naturally occurring native plant communities on privately owned land and on public land under seed collection permits. Our focus on small seed lots helps us meet our high standards for sustainable and ethical seed collection. Due to natural fluctuations in seed production and our inconsistent ability to reach far-flung plant populations at just the right time for seed collection, our product inventory will vary throughout the year. We travel far and wide, and sometimes hike long distances throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou region to bring you the species you are looking for! Our small-scale, ecologically sustainable native seed packets are a product of an intimate knowledge of the land and many miles on hiking trails to get to the right location where we can sustainably collect small amounts of seed for our retail seed packets. In this blog post we want to highlight a few of the recent additions to our inventory, which now includes over 150 species! We are constantly updating our inventory, so check back occasionally to see if we have something new, or if we have a species in stock that we had been out of, that you just can’t live without!

New Products

Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii)

Bolander’s sunflower (Helianthus bolanderi)

Scarlet fritillary (Fritillaria recurva)

Yellowleaf iris (Iris chrysophylla) and Blackcap raspberry (Rubus leucodermis)

Brown dogwood (Cornus glabrata) and Oregon whitetop aster (Sericocarpus oregonensis)

Ribes sanguineum-Red flowering currant

Give the gift of native seeds this holiday season!

Are you looking for a unique, eco-friendly holiday gift for a nature-lover you know? Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds offers Gift Certificates that are available in any amount. Or you can purchase native seed packets to package and gift directly yourself.

Shop for native seeds on our website!

KSNS Gift Certificate
Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds Gift Certificate

Native seeds given as holiday gifts can be planted right away in order to achieve cold-moist stratification over the winter for springtime seed germination!

To order a gift certificate just send us an email at klamathsiskiyou@gmail.com

Happy Holidays!

Site Prep Techniques for Native Seeding

Site Prep Techniques for Native Seeding

Native plant seeds are used for various applications. Many people use native seeds for growing plants for landscaping and native plant gardens, while others who own or manage land will use native seeds for habitat restoration projects. If you own or manage land you may have a goal of increasing native plant composition and diversity — using native seeds is a great way to achieve that goal! Seed germination is greatly improved if seeds have direct contact with the soil and there is limited competition from non-native plants and heavy thatch, so site preparation is one of the most important aspects of a successful native seed project. Site preparation can be achieved through various techniques, including solarization, tilling, herbicide use, or fire.

Solarization, using clear greenhouse or black plastic to heat the soil and kill existing vegetation and non-native seeds in the soil seedbank, is a good choice for small areas but can be difficult to pull off on a large scale. It is a non-toxic method and is worth trying if other other site prep techniques are not possible.

Tilling can work under certain situations but generally triggers germination of non-native plant seeds in the soil seedbank that thrive on soil disturbance. If tilling, try to only till the top 1″ of the soil to limit soil disturbance. The least amount of soil disturbance the better. Sometimes simply raking thatch back to the point where bare mineral soil is exposed can be all you need to sow native seeds and have successful seed germination.

Herbicide use is commonly used by restoration practitioners to kill off existing vegetation and replace it with native plants using native seeds. Although this method is effective, it is controversial for all the obvious reasons associated with herbicide use and we don’t use this method ourselves.

The site preparation technique we will feature is using fire to prepare a site for native seeds. The Klamath-Siskiyou region is a fire-adapted ecosystem where over millennia plant seeds have evolved to germinate profusely following a fire in order to recolonize the site. Fire naturally prepares a site by eliminating thatch and creating a mineral-rich seed bed of ash and bare soil, perfect conditions for seed germination.

Although federal land managers and large land conservancies do seeding projects following large prescribed fire projects, private landowners can create the same effects on a very small scale using simple techniques. If you have land that you have performed homesite defensible space work on and you have some burn piles to burn, turn those burn pile sites into small seed projects. After the burn pile has fully cooled down and is completely out you can sow the area with native seeds. Seeds are best sown in the fall in order to achieve cold-stratification requirements. A burn pile that was a small circle of ash and charcoal can turn into a profusion of native plants and wildflowers that will spread over time.

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Lupinus albifrons seed

Fall is a good time to sow native plant seeds!

Here at Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds (KSNS) we spend a lot of time photographing flowers and plants during the growing season; however, this time of year, as plants go dormant and we clean and package seeds for sale, we focus on taking pictures of the seeds themselves in order to help people get to know native plants on a more intimate level. Getting to know the seeds of native plants helps deepen the understanding of a plant’s lifecycle, growing habit, and reproduction.

As you sow native plant seeds this fall and winter take the time to closely observe the structure of the seeds you are planting. Aren’t they amazing? The color, texture, smell, and shape of a seed is as fascinating as the plants that emerge from them. Below is a selection of photos we would like to share that features a wide variety of seeds from native plants of the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Enjoy!

brown creeper_Frank Lospalluto

Biodiversity for the Birds

brown creeper_Frank Lospalluto
Brown creeper Photo: Frank Lospalluto

Want to support bird populations in your yard or on your land? Plant native plants!

New research has shown that the prevalence of non-native landscape and garden plants reduces the population of insectivorous birds. Because most birds rely on insects for food for themselves and their young, and because many insects are unable to use non-native plants, birds are less prevalent in areas with high percentages of non-native plants. 

The research has shown that the threshold for habitat is 70%. That is, if a yard contains at least 70% native plants it will provide enough insects for food for viable populations of birds.

yellow warbler_Frank Lospalluto
Yellow warbler Photo: Frank Lospalluto

As humans alter landscapes and transform native plant communities into developments with non-native plant landscaping and gardens, there is less and less habitat for insects, and less and less habitat for birds and many other native species. Plant biodiversity is important for insects like pollinators, as well as for all wildlife, including birds that need native plants in order to sustain healthy populations. Even in areas where human infrastructure dominates, planting native plants is vital to support local food webs.

Although the newly published research has been done by researchers associated with the University of Delaware, the implications are far reaching and applicable to the western U.S. as well.

Check out this article in Science Daily about this new research by Desiree L. Narango, Douglas W. Tallamy and Peter P. Marra: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181023130340.htm

You can also  read the abstract or pay to view the full paper through the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/10/16/1809259115

bushtit_Frank Lospalluto
Bushtit Photo: Frank Lospalluto
Plectritis congesta-Sea blush

Fall Germinating Seeds

Although it seems counterintuitive, many native species have seed that germinates in the fall. Seeds respond to fall rain or dew set that moistens the soil and triggers fall germination. This strategy enables these species to overwinter as a small rosette of leaves, ready to bolt and flower as soon as the weather warms in the spring. These cool season species get a jump start on growth in the fall in order to be more established before blooming.

In order to help these species achieve fall germination the seeds must be sown outside around the time of the first fall rain. The warm fall soil temperatures and rain trigger seed germination. For some species it is important to have them sown before the first significant fall rain comes, as this enables the seed to have enough moisture to germinate before the temperatures turn really cold.

Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds offers seed for the following annual species of wildflowers with seed that can germinate in the fall.

Clarkia rhomboidea-Diamond clarkia

 

Gilia capitata-Bluehead gilia

 

Plectritis congesta-Shortspur sea blush

 

Broadleaf lupine-Lupinus latifolius

Come visit our booth at the Talent Harvest Festival on October 6th!

Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds (KSNS) will have a booth at the Talent Harvest Festival on October 6th. We will have a variety of native seed packets for sale as well as many potted native plants grown from our locally wildcrafted native seeds. Since we don’t ship live plants this is a great opportunity to purchase plants for fall planting.

For many years KSNS has been the go-to source for retail native seeds in southern Oregon and northern California. Our motto, Grow Native-Grow Wild, says it all. We want to provide a wide diversity of native plant seeds from the wild to enhance botanical diversity and native plant conservation.

Can’t make the Talent Harvest Festival? Purchase local native seeds from throughout the Klamath-Siskiyou region through mailorder on our website.  KSNS offers nearly 150 species of native seed! You won’t find this wide selection anywhere else in the region. Shop for native seeds now!

Coming to the Talent Harvest Festival? Check out the following list of selected potted native plants KSNS will have at our booth. Fall is the perfect time to plant native seeds and native potted plants. See you there!

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Symphyotrichum subspicatum-Douglas aster

Native Fall-blooming Asters

Symphyotrichum subspicatum-Douglas aster
Douglas aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum)

The aster family of plants is a large, diverse plant family that includes species that range from common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), to narrowleaf mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia). However, when you hear the word aster, you generally think of purple fall-blooming asters that used to be classified in the genus Aster.

Symphyotrichum foliaceum-Leafybract aster
Leafybract aster (Symphyotrichum foliaceum) and pollinating wasp

Up until the 1990s the genus Aster contained 600 species in Eurasia and North America. After morphological and molecular research all but one plant within the genus Aster in North America was reclassified as other related genera. There are now only 180 plants within the genus Aster, mostly confined to Eurasia. North American asters are now in genera such as Dieteria, Eucephalus, Eurybia, Heterotheca, Oreostemma, Sericocarpus, Symphyotrichum, etc. Although the name of the genera have changed, most common names still include the name aster, for example, Leafybract aster is now Symphyotrichum foliaceum.

Fall is the time to celebrate native asters!

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Landscaped native plant meadow in the Siskiyou Mountains

Native plants can be used in a wide variety of ways. Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds has provided native plant seeds for the following applications.

Native Plant Habitat Restoration

Whether our clients are looking for a small amount of seed for a small-scale native plant habitat restoration project, or many pounds of seed for a large-scale restoration project on their land or land they manage, Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds meets our clients’ needs. We have provided seed for many successful native seeding projects on private and public land.

Native Plant Grow-out and Nursery Production

We provide native plant seed to many native plant nurseries on the West Coast, as well as for our own small nursery in the Applegate Valley of southern Oregon. Growing native plants for large-scale habitat restoration and smaller garden applications gives our clients and customers a jump start on plant growth for their planting projects.

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Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds