Q: I want to put in a native flower garden. I’m planning to plant wild lupine, prairie blazing star, lead plant, and salvia. I’d like to grow these plants from seed. Can I plant the seeds now? Or is this the wrong time of year?
A: I put your question to Dan Schutte, who runs Shoreview Natives in Two Harbors and grows lots of native plants from seed. He thinks you’re better off waiting until late fall to plant. He says the risk if you plant your seeds now is that you’ll get little seedlings, and then we’ll get a warm, dry spell, and they’ll die.
You may also get better germination if you wait. Many native plant seeds require a cold treatment before they will germinate. The chill of winter and the warm-up in spring triggers them to break dormancy. People who start native plants indoors have to chill the seed in the refrigerator for a couple of months to fool the plant into believing it’s gone through the winter.
Dan suggests getting your planting area well prepped now, and waiting until October to seed. Iowa Extension suggests waiting until after a killing frost; plant your seeds at the same time of year as you’d plant daffodil and tulip bulbs.
There are lots of resources from Extension about growing native flowers and grasses here: https://extension.umn.edu/find-plants/native-plants
Q: Can I move my hostas at this time of year?
A: Spring is the best time to divide hostas, but you can divide or move them now. They likely won’t fill in nicely until next summer.
Written by U of M Extension Master Gardeners in St. Louis County. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.