Seed help please!
May 31, 2012 9:13 AM   Subscribe

What are some native seeds / plants to Pennsylvania and Delaware, that would be able to grow in San Francisco?

I'm heading to a wedding in San Francisco next month, and had an idea for the gift - the couple is from the east coast (Philly area and Delaware to be exact) and moved out to San Francisco about 4 years ago. The bride-to-be is an expert gardener, so I was thinking it might be nice to get them an assortment of seeds native to their home area, as well as a personalized pot with their wedding date, etc.

The pot has been secured, but I now reach a hang up in that I know nothing about the plants native to the Philadelphia area or Delaware. Is anyone aware of any local species? Even better, does anyone know if I could procure these seeds online? I'm in New England, so I wasn't sure if plant stores / nurseries here would be of much help.

I'd have a preference for flowering plants, but I will take what I can get!
posted by CharlieSue to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I'd be very careful about this--California's got a lot of invasive species that have been imported from other places, and are choking out the native species. One person's native wildflower is another's weed. The Winterthur garden blog might give you some ideas.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:20 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

To second Ideefixe warning, things like the burpee catalog have specifics about which plants are not shippable to certain states. Hawaii and California seem to be the most often listed states.

That said, usually something like heirloom catalogs or the generic "organic" seed catalogs can give hints about what/where the plant is local. (eg southern seed exchange)
posted by k5.user at 10:09 AM on May 31, 2012

Oh wow, thanks for the heads up Ideefize and K5.user - I was not aware of the invasiveness issues - maybe I'll just stick with a nice Californian plant instead!
posted by CharlieSue at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2012

Two you could try are black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). (I just scanned the inventory list at the Delaware Native Plant Society nursery, and they sell both those plants.)

This is a really sweet idea, but as a Bay Area gardener, I'm going to throw out another caution, which is that gardening in San Francisco is kind of bananas -- some places are pretty warm and sunny; some are in the fog belt and it always feels dark and wet. These microclimate issues are very specific to where they live.

Also, space is likely at a premium, so you might delight the bride more with a gift certificate to one of our superb nurseries than with a plant you chose that may or may not work for her. I would hazard a guess that there isn't a Bay Area gardener who would turn down a gift certificate to Flora Grubb Gardens or Annie's Annuals & Perennials.
posted by purpleclover at 11:27 AM on May 31, 2012

(Neither of the plants I mentioned are invasive. They're both pretty common, and there are lots of different, interesting varieties available, many from seed.)
posted by purpleclover at 11:31 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some more Delaware natives that are commonly available in California nurseries:

Liatris spicata

Cephalanthus occidentalis (shrub, var. californiae is native to California)

Verbena hastata

Symphyrotrichum novae-angliae

Penstemon digitalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Eupatoria dubium

I'm pretty familiar with what is invasive here, and as far as I know, none of these are. Most of them have been available as plants from Annie's Annuals, linked by purpleclover.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:53 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could ask the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society's "ask a gardener" program. While locally-based they are likely to know about gardening conditions elsewhere. Fairmount Park and Bartram's Garden both have native plant lists (can't find Bartram's online for some reason but you could call them and ask).
posted by sepviva at 7:57 PM on May 31, 2012

Could you order a copy of Golden Gate Gardening to go along with the plant? It has excellent microclimate suggestions and you could leaf through it beforehand to decide on the appropriate plant.
posted by kdar at 11:49 PM on May 31, 2012

This is a lovely idea for a wedding gift, and I may have to borrow it sometime. I agree with other posters that native CA plants are the way to go. I'm not sure if you're in the Bay Area yourself, but wanted to direct you to the Native Plants Nursery next to Golden Gate Park. They have tons of native plant starts (not sure about seeds) and are a great resource for info on natives in general :
posted by missmobtown at 8:54 AM on June 2, 2012

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