Growing Wild Vegetables in the United States


Most vegetables that grow in the wild in the U.S. go unnoticed. However, a few have come back into the limelight because of their high nutrient levels. If you aren't up to foraging these wild edibles, you can also grow them in your garden. Most wild vegetables are adapted to your region, which means you will have less problems with disease and pests than growing your typical vegetable.

Step 1

Find out through a field guide for your region which wild edibles are most common in your area. You will have more success growing wild vegetables adapted to your region. Choose the vegetables you would like to grow. A few common good ones to start with that are found in most parts of the U.S. include stinging nettles, dandelions, burdock, milk thistle and purslane.

Step 2

Obtain your wild vegetable seeds through a nursery or online seed distributor. Most seeds like purslane and burdock have become popular enough to find at a nursery. You can also harvest your own seeds from the plants you want to grow by finding them in the wild in the fall.

Step 3

Cold-stratify seeds that require it. Put purslane seeds in a plastic bag with soil. Place the bag in the refrigerator for 15 days before you begin planting.

Step 4

Choose an area where you would like to plant your wild vegetables in the early spring after the danger of frost has passed. Make sure the garden area gets full sun.

Step 5

Mix compost evenly through the top 6 inches of soil to provide nutrients for your plants. You can also add a general purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer; however, it isn't necessary. Most wild plants are hardy and grow well even in poor soil. Purslane is one example of a plant that can thrive in poor and sandy soils.

Step 6

Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil and barely cover the seeds with soil to keep them from being blown away. Most wild plants naturally seed themselves through seeds being blown to the soil surface by wind. Plant root vegetables such as burdock at a depth of 1 inch. Space most plants about a foot apart. However, purslane plants can be sown 6 inches apart, and nettles can be sown densely together.

Step 7

Water your plants to moisten the soil. Continue to water your plants once or twice a week when there is no rainfall. Keep the area around your plants well-weeded.

Things You'll Need

  • Field guide
  • Wild vegetable seeds
  • Plastic bag
  • 10-10-10 fertilizer (optional)


  • Life Unplugged: Gathering Wild Fruits and Vegetables
  • University of Washington: Stinging Nettle
  • Farm Info: Growing Dandelions

Who Can Help

  • Plant Biology: How to Grow Purslane
  • Organic Garden: Growing Burdock
Keywords: wild edible plants, growing wild vegetables, edible weeds

About this Author

Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Robin Coe has reported on a variety of subjects for more than 15 years. Coe has worked on environmental health and safety issues in communities across Ohio and Michigan. Coe holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with a double-major in international politics from Bowling Green State University. She has also received training and experience as a nurse aide.