Follow appropriate timing

Trays of seed plugs ready for planting at our greenhouse.Seed: The optimal time to install seed is from the fall (October 1) to late spring (June 15). Avoid mid-to-late summer seeding, because of limited soil moisture and rainfall. Native seed mixes can be installed in the fall when temperatures are cooler and rains are more frequent. Many native species require a cold stratification in order to break dormancy. When conditions are right in the spring, the seed will be in place to germinate.

Seeding a wetland in the winter is often easier, because the site is frozen and equipment can more easily access the site. Broadcast the seed when the evening temperatures drop below freezing. Use appropriate erosion control measures, because the seed is not likely to germinate and provide stabilization until the following growing season.

Live Plants: Live plants, including plugs, container stock, and bareroot herbaceous plants, are best planted during the growing season, which in the Midwest is between May 1 and October 15. Spring plantings are usually more successful, because the plants have sufficient time to develop a deep–root system to withstand summer droughts. If planting needs to occur in the middle of summer, irrigation is recommended. If plants are installed in late fall (after October 15) after going dormant, care should be taken to anchor plants in loose soil to prevent frost heaving. Wet soils are more prone to frost heaving.

Dormant Woody Materials: Bare-root trees and shrubs, live stakes, fascines, and brush layering are all dormant when sold and are best planted during their dormant season (November 15 through April 15). This timing reduces transplant shock and allows the plants to develop a root system when moisture is readily available. Fall availability of bare-root trees and shrubs is weather dependent, and winter weather can eliminate fall harvest opportunities.

For a complete guide, please download our Installation and Maintenance Guidelines PDF document.