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Grow with us! 

Are you ready to help Minnesota pollinators? If you received a State of Minnesota branded packet of native seeds, this planting guide is for you. 

If you already used your seed packet, scan the QR code below and tell us about your planting experience.

QR code to access survey with a question that reads How did your seeds grow?


Minnesota’s Interagency Pollinator Protection Team (IPPT) developed this seed mix, which contains:

TypeScientific nameCommon name%Bloom timePollinator notes
ForbAsclepias tuberosaButterfly milkweed8SummerHost plant of monarch caterpillars.
ForbLiatris ligulistylisMeadow blazing star4SummerOne of the monarch’s favorite nectar plant.
ForbVerbena strictaHoary vervain9SummerAttractive to native bees and butterflies. Hosts at least one specialist bee.
ForbHeliopsis helianthoidesCommon ox-eye10SummerPollinators walk around the flower sipping nectar with their proboscises (mouths).
ForbMonarda fistulosaWild bergamot5SummerProvides a lot of nectar. Great for observing and photographing bumble bees!
ForbAquilegia canadensisRed columbine4SpringAn early bloomer attractive to bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths.
ForbZizia aureaGolden Alexanders5SpringA pollen and nectar source for early emerging bees during spring.
ForbRudbeckia hirtaBlack-eyed Susan11SummerA long flowering nectar source. Some birds like to eat their seeds.
ForbDalea purpureaPurple prairie clover14SummerGreat for observing native bees collect pollen. Look for vibrant orange pollen on bees’ legs and underside!
ForbSymphyotrichum laeveSmooth blue aster5FallProvides food for bees and butterflies during late fall.
GrassSchizachyrium scopariumLittle bluestem25SummerHost plant of grass skipper caterpillars. Provides pollinator nesting habitat.

Where to start?

  • Plant your seeds during late fall, spring, or early summer. Many native seeds need winter conditions to break their dormancy before they will emerge. Planting in fall may reduce competition from other plants.
  • Select a site. Plant in a small area or in containers in an area that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. One seed packet contains enough seeds to cover 10 square feet.
  • Prepare your soil. Remove existing vegetation to reduce competition with other plants. There is no need to add fertilizers, as native plants are adapted to poor soils.
  • Provide seed-to-soil contact. Spread seeds directly onto the soil surface and gently rake or press them into soil. Do not cover with too much soil – a soil depth equal to the thickness of the seed is just right!
  • Water. You do not need to water the seeds as long as they receive about one inch of rainfall per week. 
  • Be patient. Native plants put most of their energy into building strong roots the first few years. 
  • Tell us about your planting experience here!

Go the extra mile!

Provide flowers all season long

Pollinators need pollen and nectar throughout the growing season! Early spring flowers like golden alexanders and large beardtongue, and blooming shrubs like wild plum and willows, are critical food sources for early-emerging pollinators. Late-flowering species like asters and goldenrods provide nectar for insects that overwinter, including young bumble bee queens and migratory monarch butterflies. 

Offer nesting habitat

In addition to nectar and pollen, optimal pollinator habitat includes areas for overwintering and nesting. Undisturbed areas that may be used for pollinator nesting include downed logs, bunch grasses, leaf litter, hollow stems, and areas of bare soil. While native grasses—such as the little bluestem in this mix—don’t provide nectar for pollinators, they serve as nesting habitat for several pollinator species!

Minimize pesticide use

  • Identify your garden insects: which are pests and which are beneficial?
  • Accept some insect damage on plants.
  • Use pesticides only when necessary. If you need to apply pesticides:
    • Look for the pollinator protection box on insecticide labels and follow the label exactly. The label is the law.
    • Apply when bees are not foraging (early morning or evening, or when air temperatures are below 55°F).
    • Prevent drift when applying pesticides. Avoid applying pesticides when it is windy.

Additional resources

Last updated: 3/26/2024