Self Sowing Plants for the Garden

As previously mentioned in my 2009 garden project list I am working on a self sowing garden. I mentioned the advantages to a self sowing garden earlier in the week and my own personal reasons for wanting to plant it and now it’s time for the next step…seeds. But first, what are self sowing plants? Since plants generally reproduce from seed aren’t they all self-sowing? Technically I guess that fits the definition but what people generally assume to be self sowing plants are those that self seed very easily or very reliably. Plants like rudbeckias and cosmos are great examples as they flower prolifically then seed very well. Here is my long list of self sowing plants that I will pick from when choosing the plants to start my self-seeding garden. I’ll be weeding the list down a little smaller soon. I left off a couple plants that I plan to include due to a more unreliable reseeding nature like zinnias, sunflowers (won’t reseed since the birds will eat them but might otherwise), and Russian sage (I can’t help it I’m addicted to Russian sage).This list contains mostly self seeding annuals (at least here in Tennessee) but a few of them may comeback with a mild enough winter.

Self Sowing Plants

Bells of Ireland
Coneflower (Echinacea)
Morning Glory
Salvia (Clary Sage)
Sweet Pea
Verbena bonariensis
Many of these plants are great for the birds and wildlife which is always a bonus!

I added a link to the University of Wisconsin’s Horticulture page about the Bells of Ireland.  I’ve never tried it in the garden as the seed I started last year died as seedlings due to damping off.  I’ll be giving it another shot this year. It is said to self-seed if the dried flower stalks are allowed to stay on the plant.  That means no cut flowers for the Bells of Ireland! Or at least just a few!


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Don't forget Four'o Clocks & Cleome Dave! Your self sowing garden is going to wonderful. I can't wait to see it this summer when it's in full glory. 🙂

  2. I grow many of those, and I just love the way they keep popping up in the garden every year. I haven’t actually planted cosmos or snapdragons for several years, but they’re still here. And I find that they look better every year. Mother Nature’s a much better garden designer than I am 🙂

  3. Hi Dave, this is too fun! Bells of Ireland self sow? I can’t even get them to germinate! How about the gaillardias? They self sow all over here, but are the red burgundy or the red and yellow goblin types, not your lemons and oranges, although I have tried to plant seeds of them from offspring Semi’s huge clump, no success yet. I can’t even grow the Russian sage at all, it just dwindles into nothingness! How odd, it must be a difference in soil, for the temps are not that different between our gardens.

  4. Racquel,

    Good suggestions, I’ll add them to the list!


    Mother Nature does have the ultimate degree in horticulture! I hope that our garden has the kind of success that your cosmos and snapdragons have had.


    I’ve never planted the Bells of Ireland before but from what I’ve read they are supposed to self sow pretty good. I germinated some last year but I think they suffered from damping off. I have plenty of gaillardia seed so there’s another good suggestion! I collected the ‘Arizona sun’ seed at my parents house and of course have planty of the ‘Oranges and Lemons’.

  5. And then there’s biennials that self-sow and won’t flower till after their first year.

  6. You gotta love those self seeding flowers. So easy!

  7. Dave,

    Hi! I love self sowers but still think a plant or two for structure and winter interest is important! Might I suggest bronze fennel…it will bring in the caterpillars and butterflies!


  8. Black Eyed Susan and Wishbone are great as well as Zinnia.

  9. It will be less expensive for sure. I tried Bells of Ireland too and mine dried up. They must be hard to grow.

  10. Great choice of plants, Dave! I have nothing to say. I like almost all of ’em except a few that I don’t know about like Rudbeckia, Nigella…

  11. Lucky you to have selfseeding V. bonariensis. I’ve never gotten it to come back for me yet, but I suspect our long cold springs do it in. And good ON you for getting Bells of Ireland to selfseed. Is this a case where they germinate better from fresh seed than from packaged? Because I’ve found very spotty germination the few times I’ve grown the plant from seed.

  12. TC,

    That’s a good suggestion as well. Those need started right away so they can mature for next year.


    That would add a bit more interest! The girls would love the caterpillars and butterflies.


    Good ideas! I have 3-4 different rudbeckias (Black-eyed Susan) to plant. They love to reseed!


    It sounds like quite a few people have trouble with it. I wonder what the trick is?


    I’ll definitely be showcasing them as they come along!


    It may take quite a few seeds to get them going. My seed experience with them last year wasn’t so hot. I had germination but they died off before they could be planted in the garden. I started them indoors and they damped off. Our extended growing season is very good for Verbena!

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