Our Natives First® team has worked with a variety of customers over many years who have successfully seeded and established native grass species. These species demonstrate amazing tenacity once they are established.
Native wildflowers are also an important addition to many native grass plantings. Besides adding beauty to stands of native grasses, wildflowers are an important food source for game birds, song birds and mammalian wildlife as well as grazing livestock.
To explore the product options available from Natives First, view the “Types” tab on this page. Need help getting started? Check out our CRP Info Sheet.
Below is a partial list of products available. For more native seed options please contact us.
Annual Cover Crop Pollinator Mix with Legumes
This mix provides quality bee forage in a short-term rotation with commodity or cash crops. It serves as both a soil improvement cover crop and a beneficial pollinator mix because of the species selected and legume additions. For more details on this product click here.
This mix is less than 24 in. high and provides a neater appearance than taller mixes. It is good for residential or commercial landscaping where height is a factor.
This mix is less than 16 in. high and provides a manicured appearance. It is ideal for residential or commercial landscaping where height is a factor.
This mix contains perennials and annuals well-suited to grow in the upper Midwest, and is formulated to provide bloom spring, summer and fall. It is ideal for residential or commercial landscaping.
Perennial Wildflower Pollinator Mix with Legumes
This mix offers a perennial, season-long bloom period to support both pollinators and other wildlife. Species for this mix were selected that bloom at different times during the summer once established. For more details on this product click here.
This mix requires strong, filtered sunlight or 1-4 hrs. of direct sun/day. These plants will not prosper in dense shade.
Native grasses or prairie grasses are tolerant to extremes of heat or cold, drought and a variety of other harsh environmental conditions. Seed and seedling characteristics of natives are different from those of most domesticated crops or turf grasses. Native species generally have small seeds. Prairie grass seeds bring seedling vigor that is generally lower than that of many domesticated plant species. Most natives require shallow seeding depths. Germination can be somewhat prolonged due to naturally occurring seed dormancy. Successful establishment requires attention to detail in seedbed preparation, seeding and early management.
Wildflower or pollinator species generally establish well in stands of established grass, and have been added as an enhancement planting to thousands of acres of conservation reserve program (CRP) with good results. The nature of wildflower seedling growth makes this possible. Seedlings form a tap root at germination that grows without a pause as the plants develop. By comparison, grasses form a seedling root from the seed upon germination, but then abandon the seedling root system as the permanent root system develops.
Prairies can be planted in spring and early summer and again in late fall just before the ground freezes.
How to Plant: Steps
Good seed-to-soil contact is essential for successful germination.
Seeding on Bare Soil
Seeding into Existing Vegetation
Note: Roto-tilling or plowing the site tends to expose weed seeds which compete with wildflower plantings. Use either of these soil preparation methods only when soil compaction is a definite problem. Plan weed control measures accordingly.
For Environmentally Sensitive Sites
For small sites, cover the areas with black or clear plastic for several weeks during the spring or summer to kill unwanted weeds. On larger sites, till existing vegetation several times during the course of the year prior to planting. Seed as specified for bare soil.
Additional Seedbed Preparation Tips
There are several ways to prepare a site for seeding. Important factors for a successful planting are contact of seeds with the soil, a firm seedbed, and some method of discouraging competition from annual weeds.
If erosion is not too much of a problem, plow or till your area late fall or early spring. Disc shallowly at approximately two-week intervals. Drag or rake before seeding. If the seeds are broadcast, drag or rake again after seeding. The area should then be packed to make a firm seedbed. For small areas, a water filled lawn packer works well. For large areas, a field roller such as a cultipacker works well.
On highly erodable sites or very weedy areas, the use of short-lived herbicide is sometimes recommended. Spray when vegetation if 4-6” tall. After plants die, the area can then be shallowly disked or raked, then dragged, and planted as above. An option is to direct seed with a slit seeder or no-till drill after spraying.
An area as large as an acre can be hand seeded by one person in a few hours. Mix the seed thoroughly with an inert material to increase bulk. Work slowly and try to cover the ground as evenly as possible. Always divide the seed in half and broadcast the area from two directions. A light wind aids in getting even distribution. Setting up a grid system using flags or markers will also help to get the seeds spread evenly.
Ready to restore native habitat? Take a look at our Natives First Restoration Guidelines prior to getting started.
Choosing when to seed wildflowers depends largely on the management strategies that are intended. Inclusion of wildflowers eliminates the possibility of some herbicide use. Many herbicides which control weeds may also kill wildflowers. Where use of such herbicides is planned it would be best to delay planting of wildflowers for one to three years. This would allow herbicide use until the grasses are established and herbicides are not needed. Growers who choose not to use herbicides may want to include wildflowers when making the initial seeding of native grasses.
For the first season or two, prairie plants will spend most of their energy producing deep root systems in preparation for the periodic droughts that plague prairie climates. As a result, the first year or two it will appear as if annual weeds are taking over the area. Given a little light, however, by the third year prairie plants will grow up and spread out, smothering and crowding out the weeds.