Native Plants


I have seeds on my purple coneflower and black-eyed susans plants. Since it is mid march, may I just plant them into tiny pots and leave them beside the mother plant? Thanks


 Great idea to collect seed and propagate more native plants! I’m going to assume that your plants are the native purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and the native black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta). The germination method for purple coneflower and black-eyed susan are very different.  I checked the website for Wildflower Farm, an Ontario nursery producing and selling native plants seeds (link below). They provide germination instructions for each of the species they sell.

In the case of black-eyed susan, the seeds can be sown directly in the ground 1/8 inch (3 mm) deep in late fall or early spring.  You could plant them in pots but you will need to keep the pots moist but not soggy until the seeds germinate.  You could also start the plants indoors if you have a good light source where it may be easier to keep the pots moist and provide a consistently warm environment.  Plant them out when the seedlings are about 2 inches tall.  Click here for the seed germination details from Wildflower Farm. Keep in mind that black-eyed susan is a biennial which means it lives for only two years and only produces flowers and seeds in the second year.

Purple coneflowers require exposure to cold conditions for a period of time in order to break their dormancy (called cold stratification).  This can be achieved by planting the seeds directly in the ground in the late fall so the seed overwinters and germinates naturally in the spring.  This can also be achieved indoors by keeping the seed in a slightly moistened soil-less potting mix in a plastic bag and alternating between the fridge and freezer for a week.  Click here for the detailed instructions on this method from Wildflower Farm.  Another option for you is to collect the seed from your purple coneflower now, save it in a cool, dry place over the summer and plant it in the ground in the fall.

If you would like more information on growing from seed, check out our Toronto Master Gardener’s Guide at the link below.

Toronto Master Gardener: Growing from Seed