Seeds or Plants... Choosing the Right Option for Your Native Plant Project

When adding natives to your landscape, the question as to whether to use seeds or plants can cross your mind and the same question often comes across our desks! While we're a little partial to seed, each has it's pros and cons. Let's be fair and investigate.



  • Provide a faster establishment and often provide more flowers the first growing season.
  • Better aesthetic. If you are looking for a cleaner and more traditional landscape look, native plants may be your best option. Just keep in mind you will need to manage to keep that look, or the plant species will mix and create a wilder and more natural look.
  • Gives you control of how many of each species gets planted. Also, it ensures you get all of the species wanted represented in the project area.


  • Expensive.
  • Susceptible to stress or fatalities from being transplanted.
  • Require more management in watering and/or fertilizer.
  • More targeted by wildlife for foraging.
  • Requires more planning to ensure the right species are selected for the planting area.
  • More labor intensive.
  • Can be hard to find sources for native plants.
  • More dependent on short term weather.



  • Inexpensive.
  • Requires less management.
  • Increases the chances that a certain species will like the location they are planted. You may have 20 species in your seed mix versus 1 species when you use plants. This helps avoid choosing the wrong species for your location.
  • Typically, less targeted by animals for foraging.
  • Less dependent on short term weather. Seeds will lay dormant until growing conditions are suitable.
  • Less labor intensive than plants.
  • Allows you to increase your species diversity.
  • Readily available from OPN Seed!


  • Less control on the overall aesthetic.
  • Requires patience...perennials may take a few years to establish.

As you can see, good and maybe not so good for both. Let's dive a little deeper into the financials.

Overall, seed is inexpensive! But, I know what you're certainly doesn't seem inexpensive to me. Here's an example:

Homeowner With a 250 Square Foot Plot

Installing plants to cover this area (1 foot spacing) will require 250 plants. Plugs are the most economical option and cost around $3.00 a plug. Larger container stock can range from $15-$30 per plant. So, if we do 1 foot spacing and plant plugs, the cost for plants is $750.00.

Installing seed to cover this area requires 1 OPN Seed Packet. The packet provides a seeding rate of approximately 50 seeds per square foot. This rate potentially provides 50 times the plants per square foot. The retail cost of the packet is $15.95! For the whole plot, using plants provides 250 plants while using seed can provide over 12,000 plants.

Ultimately, we want you to pick the best option for your landscape. After all, the end goal is the same. Native plants for pollinators, wildlife and biodiversity.  If that option is plants, awesome! There are great folks out there growing native plants for sale and we may be able to point you in their direction.

If that option is seed, we're here to help! Contact us about your property and let's get started helping you create the native area of your dreams!