Helping restore the native landscape for over 50 years
Founded by Calvin Ernst in 1964, Ernst Conservation Seeds is the largest native seed producer and supplier in the eastern United States.
Find the exact seeds you need for your project using the advanced search and filtering options of our Seed Finder Tool:
Browse all seed mixes and find the one you need using the advanced search and filtering options of our Seed Finder Tool:
All the following assume adequate light, adequate soil temperature, appropriate moisture, and good seed-to-soil contact.
In general, annual species have less seed dormancy than biennials and biennials have less than perennials. Seed dormancy is nature’s hedge against unfavorable conditions during a plant’s life cycle. Unfavorable conditions can be, but are not limited to, late spring frost or drought. Dormant seeds germinate when favorable conditions are present.
Most species germinate, flower, and set seed by the end of the first full growing season. Germination of an individual species is likely to be high.
Most species germinate, with some plants within a species’ population flowering and setting seed in the first full growing season. The bulk of the plants will flower and set seed in the second growing season. Germination of an individual species is likely to be lower than that of an annual due to seed dormancy.
Stratification is the process by which seed is exposed to cool, moist conditions. While cold, wet stratification is not necessary in most cases to produce an adequate stand, 20%-50% of the seed may be dormant. Most seedlings that emerge will be growing by the end of the second full growing season. Greatest growth of these species occurs when air temperatures are 75°F-95°F (24°C-35°C). Most of the growth is in root development the first season. Very few (<5%) plants within a species may flower and set seed in the first growing season. Maximum plant development may take two years or longer.
Most of our native seed mixes are composed of perennial species. Mixes dominated by perennial species have the potential to last more than a decade if properly maintained. For all mixes, a site must be kept free from invasive species or aggressive weeds. Mixes of herbaceous species with no tree, shrub, or vine components in the formula must be kept free from the encroachment of woody or vine species with controlled burning, mowing, or spot spraying.
The natural communities we create with native seed mixes are dynamic. Annuals, biennials, and short-lived perennials may be widely present in the landscape in the first three growing seasons, but non-existent or present in small pockets by the fifth growing season. Over time, colonies of some long-lived perennials will grow larger in area and species composition will change in response to annual rainfall variations.
It is not unusual for those new to planting meadows to be nervous about a mix’s performance during its establishment year. Typically, customers need confirmation that the desirable species are growing. Fortunately, our ability to assess a situation is assisted by a small set of species that generally germinate very well.
For wetland meadows, some common early emerging species include: Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed), Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset) and Carex spp. For upland meadows, some common early emerging species include: Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge Pea), Elymus virginicus (Virginia Wildrye), Helianthus angustifolius (Narrowleaf Sunflower), Heliopsis helianthoides (Oxeye Sunflower), Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot), Penstemon digitalis (Tall White Beardtongue), and Rudbeckia hirta (Blackeyed Susan).
Search native seeds using our Seed Find Tool:
Go to the Seed Finder