3 Woodland Wildflowers You Can Plant Now by Seed

Dolls eyes seeds

You can help Mother Nature plant some wildflower seeds this fall. Don’t get me wrong, she does a nice job of planting them. But you might want some in your woods in places she might not get to this year. She’s a busy lady, so today I helped her to plant seeds of Jack-in-the-pulpit, dolls eyes and ramps. It’s easy, and took me just moments.

Jack-in-the-pulpit seeds

For years I’ve been planting Jack-in-the-pulpit with great results. My woods are full of them now. Here’s what I do. Each September I pick some of the bright red, fleshy seeds of Jack-in-the-pulpit. Then I push away leaves and loosen the soil a bit with a hand tool. I drop seeds on the soil, press into the soil, and cover the seeds with the forest duff (leaves and broken down organic matter). I have read that the chemicals in the seeds may be irritate the skin, so if you have sensitive skin, you might wear gloves, though I don’t.

Here I've removed the leaves and scattered dolls eye seeds

Next I planted dolls eyes (Actea pachypoda). The seeds are white and fleshy, as bif a a pencil eraser, and each has a dark spot – or eye. I picked a stem of seeds while hiking, brought it home, and planted the seeds much as I did with Jack-in-the-pulpit. The seeds, if they grow, will introduce plants that produce white fluffy flowers in June (in 2 or 3 years). I have 2 plants that I bought at a garden center years ago that bloom nicely each spring, but they have never produced any seedlings.

Dolls eye seeds have pink stems

Lastly I planted seeds from ramps, also called wild leeks. These are onion-family plants that I enjoy as an early spring treat, cooked and used like garlic. Although I transplant some each year from a patch nearby, I decided to harvest seeds this year from my patch. The pretty white flowers of early summer take forever to produce ripe seeds, it seems. They stay green from June to September, but most are finally ready to plant.

Ramp seeds are black when ripe.

To succeed with wildflowers, observe the forest they occur in: type of trees, type of soil, density of shade. Then try to match that in your woods. Most wildflower seeds need to spend a winter outdoors before they will germinate. Some require 2 winters. I used plastic tags to identify where I planted seeds – with the species name and date I planted them. After that? Mother Nature will have to take over.

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