Endless Sources Will Feed A Plant Obsession

By Susan Albert | January 25, 2021
Image by Karla_Upton
by Susan Albert
January 25, 2021

There are many avenues for collecting plants and seeds. From the local garden center, to big box stores and online nurseries, the opportunities are endless for just the right plant. Seeds are widely available from seed-saving groups, online nurseries, local garden centers, big box stores, friends, and family. 

Obtaining Seeds Locally

I make a wide circle for collecting plants and seeds. For plants, I’m the first one to the local nurseries when spring arrives, and frost has passed. Even if I have something in mind that I’m looking for, I love to browse at a nursery, although I fall victim to impulse buys. That is just inevitable at a plant shop. The garden centers and plant nurseries have a wide variety of annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and houseplants. The plants look healthy and they have knowledgeable staff. 

Since I like wildlife gardening, each spring and fall I usually pick up some additional native plants, such as host plants for butterflies or native perennials. Last fall I added pale coneflower, bee balm, azure blue sage, wild petunia, Indian pink, and little bluestem to my native plant garden. Our county has a stormwater cost share program, whereby if you install approved pollinator and native plants, you can be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the purchase. The strategy helps conserve water through native plantings, rain gardens, and rain barrels. 

I also attend any garden tours I can. Sometimes plant vendors are invited to sell at the homes on the tour. Before I moved, I attended an Audubon Make Every Home a Wildlife Habitat tour each May and they always invited wildlife friendly nurseries to set up at each home. I acquired a lot of my native plants through those tours. I have two favorite native plant nurseries, one in Missouri and one in Oklahoma. 

After exhausting all the nearby nurseries, I check out the home improvement stores to see what they have. I find all the plant sources carry different things. They are good for popular annuals like petunias, impatiens, mums, and pansies

Collecting Plants And Seeds From Afar

If I can’t find a particular variety of a plant locally, I order online from reputable nurseries. I do not purchase online from individuals, especially those advertising “rare” or odd colors like mint green or purple roses. I order spring and summer bulbs online, because the bulb companies seem to have a better variety than the nurseries. Same with iris rhizomes. This year I purchased lilies, tulips, daffodils, bleeding heart, and irises online. I sometimes will purchase “bagged” bulbs at big box stores. 

I buy seed packages online, at big box stores, and trade seeds with friends and family. Right now, I’m collecting native clematis leather flower seeds for my sister and she is collecting blackberry lily seeds for me. Another sister is saving some Chinese lantern seeds for me. I like to save the orange lantern-like seed pods for fall decoration. 

So, I am never at a loss for plants. Keeping an eye on the plant market by canvassing garden catalogs and visiting plant nurseries keeps my hobby well supplied.

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