San Francisco is iconic for its outdoor areas and green spaces, but even the most vibrant of cities can feel a bit neglected when it comes to forgotten sidewalks and empty lots. Shalaco and Phoenix of SFinBloom have decided to take things into their own hands by scattering California native wildflower seeds wherever they go!
The process is simple: Fill a parmesan cheese shaker with native seeds, and sprinkle to your heart’s content. After planting seeds all over town, there’s nothing better than seeing a thriving indigenous garden in a previously sparse corner of the city.
Seed shaker scavenger hunt
In the spirit of Secret San Francisco, Shalaco and Phoenix have stashed some free wildflower seed shakers in their favorite secret spots around the city, just for Secret SF readers to find. Grab a friend and see if you can track them down, so you can get in on the fun! See their complete Instagram reel for hints on where to look – a little birdy told us that the Wave Organ and Seward Street Slides might be good places to start.
You can also buy your own seed shaker kit right from the SFinBloom website. The shakers contain native seed blends for plants such as California Poppy, Blue Flax, and Golden Lupine, mixed with rice hulls to help with dispersal. There’s a California seed blend and a hyper-native Bay Area Hipster blend.
What is SFinBloom?
On their first date, Shalaco and Phoenix planted a tree for a neighbor whose citrus tree had been stolen from their garden. Now, ten years later, the tree is the size of a car and SFinBloom is a full-fledged business where they can share their expertise and passion for plants! They’ve gone viral on TikTok and Instagram for their awesome before and after videos planting California wildflower seeds around the city. You can see the fruits of their labor all over San Francisco, but a good example to check out now is the 24th Street corridor in the Mission.
In addition to the seed shaker kits, SFinBloom offers garden consultations, planting and irrigation workshops, wildflower seed resources, classes, seed planting soirees, and more. Phoenix, who’s a landscape contractor, also owns a garden design business called Green Earth Gardeners.
How to scatter seeds responsibly
California has over 7,000 native plants, which is more than any other U.S. state! At least a third of the plants aren’t found anywhere else in the world. If you’re interested in joining the movement, a crucial first step is researching the native species in your area.
Resources for doing so include the California Native Plant Society and the National Wildlife Federation’s Plant Finder, which let you search by zip code. Of course you can also refer to SFinBloom’s website. Examples of native California plants are Achillea millefolium (White Yarrow), Lasthenia glabrata (Goldfields), Linum lewisii (Blue Flax), and Phacelia campanularia (California Bluebell), plus thousands more.
Once you have your seeds ready to go, it’s time to plant! The folks at SFinBloom swear by taking the seed shakers with you wherever you go. “We do it year-round here,” says Phoenix. “If you sow seeds outside of your rainy season, they will likely lay dormant as a seed bank… so they’ll grow and come up when the time is right for that seed. You can sow year-round, you’ll just have to wait until those rains come.” Sowing a blend of seeds is also a good bet for optimal payoff, because different seeds will sprout in different conditions.
In other words, sprinkle seeds as much as you like, and just be patient. Part of the magic is discovering a new splash of wildflowers in a place you visited months before! If you’re hoping for speedy results, try to sow right before the rainy season, which generally arrives in San Francisco’s winter months.
When it comes to scattering wildflower seeds, it really is a doorway into an entire community ranging from self-proclaimed “petal punks” to casual gardeners. Because after all, planting seeds is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to land conservation, restoration, and rewilding. As California fights through invasive species, wildfires, drought, and more, the promotion of native gardens is essential for the preservation of its landscapes.
“With SFinBloom we want to democratize gardening and make it accessible for people, so that’s what we bring to the content we create… People have called us activists, and said that we’re disruptors. But [planting native seeds] is kind of the most natural thing. We’re just helping them out a bit,” Shalaco tells us. “We’d love for the day to come where this is just a normal everyday thing that people do,” adds Phoenix.
Featured image: Courtesy of SFinBloom