How to Grow Native Plants From Seed


Native plants are ideal for home gardens and landscaping. They restore natural ecosystems and support wildlife populations of mammals, birds and insects. As native plants are well-adapted to regional weather conditions, they require less irrigation and ultimately save money on maintenance costs. Native plants are also less sensitive to seasonal changes. Consult with your local nursery before growing native plants from seed to learn which varieties will grow best in your garden.

Step 1

Select and research the type of native plants you wish to grow. Consider the needs of wildlife in your area and the animals you hope to attract, advises North Carolina State University Extension. Several honeysuckle species native to the Southwest attract different butterflies and moths, while American holly berries attract birds migrating throughout the winter. Visit your local nursery or read books about the proper growing conditions for the native plants you select. Some species do best when planted in early spring, free from any threat of frost, while others require freezing temperatures to germinate properly.

Step 2

Find the appropriate planting site. Native plants are well-adapted to local environments but still have specific sun exposure requirements. The area should also be protected from scavenging animals who may eat seeds or damage small plants.

Step 3

Prepare the soil by loosening the top 4 to 6 inches of dirt and breaking up any clumps. Remove large sticks and stones as you dig.

Step 4

Build rows 2 to 3 inches wide in your gardening site. Elevating your rows into 2-inch-high mounds can protect your seeds from rainwater runoff.

Step 5

Make a small indention into the soil with your finger. Space each hole approximately 3 inches apart.

Step 6

Gently pour two to three seeds into each hole. Use your hand to lightly cover the seeds with no more than 1/2 inch of soil.

Step 7

Water your seeds immediately after planting. Continue to water daily and keep your seeds moist without allowing any standing water.

Step 8

Feed your seedlings once the second set of leaves emerge. Apply fish emulsion or quarter-strength all-purpose plant food once a week until plants reach 3 to 4 inches in height. Once plants reach maturity, mix in 50 percent compost or well-rotted manure into the soil two to three times a year.

Step 9

Spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of natural mulch around the base of your plants. Wood chips, leaves and grass clippings will keep the soil moist and prevent an onslaught of weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Native seed
  • Till
  • Shovel
  • Fish emulsion
  • Compost or manure
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • North Carolina State University: Starting Plants from Seeds
  • Plant Native: Benefits of Naturescaping
  • The Garden Helper: How to Grow New Plants from Seeds
  • North Carolina State University: How to Go Native
Keywords: native plant, native seeds, grow native plants

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and journals. Shipman has also authored three collections of poetry: "Cold Days," "Bastante" and "Short Poems." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Southwestern University.