What's a Seed Ball?
Seed balls have been around for a very long time. They are an ingenious way to distribute wildflower seed. Individual varieties of seed are proportionately mixed with red clay and compost to provide a self contained method of spreading native varieties. The ball protects the seed from birds. The seed cannot blow away. The best part is, you can cast these 'jules' (jewels) out on top of the soil (no digging and planting). Germination is triggered by temperature and moisture. The viable seed within the clay balls will wait patiently until their individual requirements are present. In the Western U.S, timing of germination is usually mid-fall to early spring - temps are down and precipitation is up.
Seed balls are used in habitat restoration as well as any area where unpredictable rainfall, thin or compacted soils and rough terrain inhibit more conventional methods of cultivation. They are a simple and beautiful way to re-establish native wildflowers to most any environment.
Cast seed balls out on top of bare soil. If you have mulch or fallen leaves, pull it away to allow the seed balls to make direct contact with the soil. Do Not Plant! They will not work if planted - the seed has been sown in the clay. If planted, the seed would be sown too deeply.
Native seeds/plants are temperature and moisture triggered. They know what they need to survive. The best time to cast out seed balls is mid-fall (or when temperature is consistently cool) to early spring and precipitation is present. We encourage folks to cast out seed balls right before a good storm comes in. That gives them a jump start! Supplemental water may be needed during dry spells of more than 2-3 weeks if germination has begun.
Seed balls can be cast out any time of year but they will not do anything until their individual needs are present (temps & precipitation).
Pretty easy, huh?
Lastly - Patience is Helpful:
Reconstructing a natural setting takes time. The first year can be somewhat frustrating because the visual picture you have in your mind does not always happen. Perennials can take one, two or more years to bloom. It's a good idea to mix some annuals with perennials for spontaneous spring color the first year! Also, aggressively addressing weed eradication will give newly started natives a leg-up. Understand the landscape will change yearly...seeds move around...some thrive while some lay dormant. It's all part of the durability of the native landscape! We hope you enjoy!