Latest Blogs

The End of the First Growing Season
October 29, 2020
By: Dave Riddell
The leaves are falling and it's time to put the cargo shorts in the closet. The growing season is coming to an end and I'm sure you have some questions on how to put your prairie to bed for the winter. The fact is your prairie is still active during the winter months. The seed that was sown or has fallen is going through a cold and moist stratification process. This occurs as we have...
Why You Should Grow Native Grasses
September 8, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
I often feel some folks wince just a little when they read seed mix contents and grasses / sedges are in the line-up. It's like a new food item on the menu. "Hmmm...I'm not sure I'll like that." Generally, our experience with grass is lawn or large, plume-y clumps decoratively placed around office park entrances. Just like native wildflowers or forbs, native grasses or graminoids "work"...
First Year Native Seedings: We've Got Flowers!
July 31, 2020
By: Dave Riddell
Here we are in late July and we finally have some flowers! Black-eyed Susan, Indian Blanket, Partridge Pea and Lemon Mint have bloomed and are ready to host our pollinator friends. The weather has been hot and dry which has likely lead to slow growth this season. Remember, we haven't done any watering or weeding in this plot.
The weed pressure is the same or less as we have seen...
I Wish You Could Smell This: It's Milkweed Time!
July 9, 2020
My Instagram feed is full of friends’ photos of monarch eggs on their milkweed. I, on the other hand, have been waiting like an expectant mother for the first monarch mama to find my milkweed patch. Of course, maybe I haven’t been looking at the right time. After all, she is less aware of me than I of her.
Today, my wait is over. Mama arrived along with bees and other bugs. As I stealthily...
First Year Native Seedings: The Sequel
June 26, 2020
By: Dave Riddell

Alright folks...I'm sure you were waiting for the follow-up on first year seedings, so here we go! Below is a photo that shows the current growth of the plot.
As you can see, the growth is still slow. This is typical for the first season and can be from a variety of factors including the mulch source. We used a typical bagged mulch from a local hardware store for this case study....
First Year Native Seedings
June 10, 2020
By: Dave Riddell
*Most of you have probably talked to Dave on the phone at one time or another and we finally convinced him to write for the blog! Be on lookout for answers to your more technical questions!
This time of year, we get a lot of questions about how to manage areas that were planted the previous fall, winter or spring. All the tips given in this blog pertain to freshly seeded areas only....
Example of Year Two Native Plants from OPN Seed
May 22, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
As I've previously shared, I'm a grandma of twins...preemie twins. As the saying goes, "days go slow, years go fast" when rearing kids. My grandbabies turn two this month and I am in awe of how far they've come. From NICU to careening down the street into my arms, my two-year-olds are definitely picking up speed. The same is true of my garden two-year-olds. All my seeded babies are...
Telephone Talk: First Year Native Seed Planting Questions
May 8, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
A week ago my eyes got misty as I drove to work. My heart sung as my car merged on the highway headed towards Hiram. Hope. It reared it's beautiful head as I headed for the seed room. Distancing and all other COVID protocols in place, it felt good to see each other face-to-face, sorta. This door never looked so good!
As I worked in the mail room, readying packages for your delivery...
Native Plant Garden Style Ideas
March 24, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
Picture your home's junk drawer. We all have one. That place that stuff gets tossed that you neither have the time nor inclination to organize. Sure, once in a while (especially now that were all home more!) we dump it out and find treasure we thought long gone. There is satisfaction in order, a sense of accomplishment and sanity. But I invite you to embrace a titch of disarray, particularly...
Foxglove Beardtongue Plant - OPN Seed's Favorite Native Perennial Wildflower
February 17, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
Favorite. Preferred. Beloved. Chosen. Heavy hitting words for native perennials. When asked which flower is my favorite, my answer is often "depends". Favorite for what? Dry, wet, tall, short, color or another parameter. But I got myself into this blog so I'll have to get myself out.
My favorite flower of the day is Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis). HUGE leap for me because...
OPN Seed's Favorite Native Grass - Little Bluestem
February 5, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
If you caught my favorite native seed mix blog then you've been expectantly waiting for this one - favorite native grass. As before, this is tough because all non-forbs (forbs being wildflowers) have delightful, unique characteristics depending on your seed sowing conditions. But I promised a pick, so here it goes...
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) gets my vote! This grass...
Barb's Native Seed Must Haves - Monarda fistulosa - Wild Bergamot
January 20, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
Surfing the TV channels this past December for holiday movie viewing, my head spun at the onslaught of "best gift" infomercials or "celebrity holiday must-haves". Who hasnt heard of Oprah's Favorite Things or Ellen's (however many) Days of Giveaways? Then, there it was...the best Christmas movie of all time. The Sound of Music! What? Don't get me wrong. LOVE this flick. It's a classic,...
Cleaning milkweed seed with a paper bag
January 3, 2020
By: Barb Holtz
If you're thinking about collecting and cleaning the milkweed seeds from your wildflower garden to share or sow, here's a harvesting tip. Before all that fluff tickles your nose, invades your hair or gets stuck on your sweater, grab a paper grocery bag. No need to pick seeds from downy kites. Just give them a shake.
When to Harvest:
YES! These seeds are ready to harvest. The pod has...
How to Prep a Garden Bed for Seeding
December 4, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
Late summer I removed a small patch of non-native iris in my yard. While I did my best to sift out rootstock remnants, I decided to play it safe and prep this area for seeding with cardboard and mulch. This method also known as sheet mulching or lasagna gardening helps give your native seed the best chance for success. Here's how to do it...
Native seed requires a clean slate for greatest...
Stem Nurseries for Bees
November 21, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
Open any gardening catalog and you'll likely see this:
Bee houses act as nurseries for cavity nesting bees. Bee houses aren't bad, but do require maintenance to be healthy for the native bees we wish to support. Regular cleaning and sanitizing is a must or your quest to be bee-friendly will end in sick bees. In such compact living quarters, fungi and disease can spread. Again, not...
Autumn Views at OPN Seed
November 7, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
I pulled down the OPN drive last week not yet ready to let go of late summer purples and golds. Blossoms had faded into bounty, stem tips laden with winged or downy seed. Flocks of songbirds gathered to harvest, flitting about the fields like the doors have just opened on the first holiday sale. This is what OPN Seed is all about - the seed. That little piece of germ plump with the...
When & How to Sow Native Plant Seeds
October 28, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
For many folks, autumn is garden clean up time. Snip dead bloom heads (WAIT! - those dead heads hold savory bird seed snacks!) Rake the leaves. (Actually, better to leave them - Put Down the Rake.) Or maybe you're planting bulbs and placing mums on your stoop. Whatever your fall garden routine, if you plan on sowing native seed, now isn't the time to hang up your tools.
Before any...
Types of Yellow Asters for Fall Planting
October 7, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
My birding buddies referred to many sparrows and the like as LBBs - little brown birds. Those non-descript feathered flyers with few distinguishing marks at casual glance. To this non-birder, even a hard look doesn't help when it comes to a tweedy-taupe covering on a body flitting from branch to branch.
DYAs or "Darn Yellow Asters" (meaning from the Asteraceae family) evoke the same...
Attracting Bumble Bees
September 11, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
Remember that childhood tune?
I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee. Won't my mommy be so proud of me. I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee. Ouch! He stung me.
I've been singing a number of oldies but goodies to my grandkids of late, realizing many of these innocent melodies are far from innocent. This is one I karaoked with one of their toys. Why does the bee get a bad rap? The kid...
A Closer Look at Bumblebees
August 26, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
If you've ever had a home near yours go up for sale, then you know that curiosity of who's looking sets in. It's instinctual. With whom we will share our daily doings? As you invite native plants into your yard, be curious! Hang out in the 'hood and meet the new neighbors. I can guarantee that increasing native plant diversity in your landscape will invite a myriad of winged guests...
Attract Monarch Butterflies with Milkweed
August 15, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
Not long ago I shared a "baby picture" of my milkweed sprouts. Hope sown in November 2018 comes to fruition in late spring 2019. As any proud mother, I dote over my milkweed offspring, especially as they make friends. The monarchs have taken to my patch and what fun to watch!
While I know as a purveyor of seed how it all works, I still get a thrill when it actually does work. It's...
When to Sow Native Plant Seeds
August 1, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
The short answer? No. The heat of summer is better spent planning for a late fall seeding or in a patio chair with a cool beverage or BOTH! Buying seed now is cool but planting it now, not so much.
The OPN Seed rule of thumb: there's not really one rule, just different times to seed depending on the species. Fall planting or dormant seeding is best when soil temperatures are below...
What's Up in Barb's Yard? - Rattlesnake Master!
June 28, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
Spent the end of last week literally sitting in my garden bed plucking interlopers from around intended seedlings. It's a thrill even for this old botanist to welcome nascent sprouts into the garden fold. So bright and green and full of promise. It's been a treat to truly decipher who's who as their lives begin.
I love all my germinating kids, but Rattlesnake Master is one of my favorites....
What's Up in Barb's Yard? Milkweed!
June 17, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
I've welcomed y'all into my yard as I plant and seed my way to native-ness. This is our second summer in what our kids call "the retirement home". It's a pretty standard suburban setting. My goal is non-standard, suburban plants. Native, northeast Ohio plants are my standard.
Last November I sprinkled a Milkweed Madness packet over a prepped bed. Don't tell my boss, but I'm pretty...
New Life on the Prairie
May 31, 2019
By: Barb Holtz
If you’re a fan of musicals, Camelot belts a tune entitled the Lusty Month of May. Granted the lyrics outline the raciness of spring and frivolity between lads and lasses. But the lines, “Whence this fragrance wafting through the air? What sweet feelings does it's scent transmute? Whence this perfume floating everywhere?” tell of the best part of May’s unfolding...
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