Ernst Conservation Seeds

Planting Guide

Ernst Conservation Seeds supplies the highest quality seeds, mixes, and bioengineering products for restoration, reclamation, and conservation applications. Ernst strives to support our customers and our community through continuing education and planting assistance. This planting guide is intended to give you the basic information necessary for any planting project. For specific concerns and questions, please call us at 800-873-3321.

In eastern North America there is a wide variety of natural vegetation to replicate. Most planting objectives fall into the following categories:

Select a combination of species that create the landscape you desire. Your goals should be compatible with the site conditions that cannot be altered. Eastern meadow and native plant communities can be selected to meet all site conditions.

The following guide for establishing natural vegetative cover is broken into sections based on the characteristics of the site. Selecting a seed mix and seeding method is based on site conditions, characteristics and growing requirements of the species. Meeting the functional goals of the site owner should be a primary consideration in your seed mix selection.

Please refer to Tools & Seeding Methods for information on various planting methods and equipment.

Native vs. Naturalized Seeds

Native - A species that existed prior to European settlement of the Americas.
Ecotype - A native species found in a defined area, state or region.

Naturalized - A species not native to a certain area that grows, reproduces and maintains itself without interference.
Variety - A subdivision of a species having distinct, consistent, though often inconspicuous difference.

Points To Consider - Spring vs. Fall Seeding

Traditionally seeding is thought of as a spring activity. Many restoration projects are completed in the summer and require fall seeding. There are some noteworthy advantages to fall seeding. So remember, you have the option of seeding in the spring or in the fall.

Fall or "Dormant" Seeding

  • Fall seeding imitates natural reseeding.
  • Some natural stratification occurs; i.e., natural changes occur to the seed and seed coat during the winter that enhance germination.
  • Good seed to soil contact occurs through moisture and frost action.
  • Germination will most likely not occur until spring. Some cool season species will establish during the winter, however, warm season grasses and most forbs will germinate in the spring.
  • Some seed can be lost to decay and wildlife consumption during the winter.
  • Establishment may be hindered by weed competition that starts during the winter.
  • Mulching is an important element of seeding to protect both the seed and soil and retain moisture

Spring Seeding

  • Cool season species germinate soon after seeding. Germination of warm season species generally occurs within three weeks of the soil temperature reaching 55°F.
  • Seed loss due to decay and wildlife consumption is minimized.
  • Seed to soil contact should be accomplished by working the seed into the soil.
  • Seeding can be delayed until weed control can be accomplished to improve establishment.
  • Irrigation during periods of dry weather is needed for proper germination.
  • Mulching is an important element of seeding to protect both the seed and soil and retain moisture.

Key to Wetland Indicator

OBLObligate wetland species99%
FACWFacultative wetland species67% to 99%
FACFacultative species34% to 66%
FACUFacultative upland species1% to 33%
UPLUpland species1%

% Probability of Occurrence in Wetlands Under Natural Conditions

Where available, we have provided a wetland indicator (established by the USDA, NRCS) for each species and region to assist you in making your selections.

Click on map for larger view

Upland plants generally cannot tolerate wetter conditions than their indicator status

Positive or negative signs are used to help specify frequency of occurrence in wetlands. A positive sign (+) indicates they are more frequently found in wetlands, and a negative sign (-) indicates that they are less frequently found in wetlands.