Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The pros and cons of self seeding plants

Self seeding plants

This summer I've noticed several self seeding plants popping up in the garden at home and at work.

Self seeding weeds

In some cases self seeding plants are seen as a nuisance. The definition of a weed is 'a plant out of place'. This means anything that self seeds that you think of as being a nuisance can be classified as a weed. The trick to managing self seeding weeds it to remove them before they grow seed thereby eliminating their method of reproduction (easier said than done). Examples of notorious self seeding weeds are dandelions, plantains, clover and many others.

Desirable self seeding plants

If a self seeding plant that has miraculously grown all by itself is desirable then there is nothing more magical than watching a plant you love materializing all own its own. One of the best things about a desirable self seeder (apart from the fact that you have had to do nothing to grow it) is that they are sometimes superior to plants you have sown yourself.

Examples of desirable self seeding plants

One example of this is an echinacea plant that sowed itself at my work garden. The funny thing is that we were trying to grow this particular form of echinacea but it only grew very small. We couldn't keep the poor little thing alive and forgot all about it. The next season a massive Echinacea plant sprouted up less than one metre away from the original one on the opposite side of a path that separates the two locations. The self sown plant is huge (almost twice the size of the original). Another example is a massive sunflower that self seeded also at work. It has to be the biggest sunflower that I've ever seen. The plant grew without any help whatsoever and the single flower head was huge (see the picture below). The other very popular example of self seeding is that of self seeding edible plants (parsley, chives, chard, lettuce and many others).

Annual flowers are by nature great self seeders. Annuals (lasting only one year) obviously need to be good self seeders to keep propagating themselves. Annuals I have at home that have done this include amaranthus, pansies, sunflowers and hollyhocks. Hopefully next year I can add poppies and calendula to that list.

This is the seed head from the self seeded sunflower. Unfortunately it was in bloom when I was on leave from work so I couldn't get a picture of it in its full glory. I'll save all those seeds and plant them at home next spring.

Amaranthus that grew itself in my home garden. Note all the annuals in the background that I've purposely left to run to seed. They should add to next years warm season annual display.

Below is the humble pansy. These little troopers keep reproducing themselves year after year. Heaps of them sprouted in my annual bed of my Macedon home last spring.


  1. love that humongous sunflower! where did you get that huge?

    1. It grew from seed that fell from a sunflower the previous year. Pretty big alright.

    2. Yes that Sunflower is Awesome. Nice Garden as well.

    3. Thanks Paula. The garden is looking very dry at the present time as we haven't had much rain.

  2. I had massive sunflowers two years ago; all self-seeding from a discounted pack of seeds from Bunnings the previous year. Last year's not so big; one or two this year medium size. Years of random fun from one pack of seeds costing a dollar.

    1. Yes they really do produce lots of seed. If you are diligent enough to collect the seed you can have sunflowers every season. Also you are correct that you get variation in the size of self seeding sunflowers. I always seem to get at least 2 behemoths and then some mediums and a few smalls.