Back to top

Madison Public Library: Seed Library

Borrowing seeds from Madison Public Library is free and easy!

  1. Visit participating libraries to pick up seeds.
  2. Grow your plants and enjoy the harvest.
  3. After harvest, collect and share seeds with neighbors if you'd like!

By participating in the seed library you are helping to create a culture of sharing and community. Saving seeds leads to a sustainable future for your community and your garden.

Participating Libraries

How do I get seeds?

Visit participating libraries to pick up seeds. There's no limit to the number of seed packets you can request and each packet contains about 10 seeds. Please note, just like with our books, there are a limited number of seeds in the collection.

We've created some helpful book lists to use alongside your seeds, as a way to learn more about a variety of topics related to different kinds of gardening.​ You can download and print the booklists or peruse them digitally and place holds using LINKcat.

Download Gardening Book List for Adults
Download Gardening Book List for Kids

Native Wisconsin Seeds

Madison Public Library's Seed Library is launching a collection of native Wisconsin plant seeds in November. This spring, Dane County Land & Water Resources Department donated a limited number of native plant seeds collected by Dane County Parks volunteers. There are five species of seeds: black-eyed susan, blue vervain, rattlesnake master, wild bergamot and yellow coneflower. 

Native Wisconsin plant seeds are best sown in the fall and left to overwinter. Getting seeds is free and easy: simply visit any of the participating libraries listed above to pick up seed packets and growing instructions.

In addition to seeds donated by Dane County, Northside naturalist Alex Singer has donated seeds from a number of other species including:newly sprouted plants

  • Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
  • Nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum)
  • Common mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)
  • Great St John’s wort (Hypericum pyramidatum)
  • Royal catchfly (Silene regia)
  • Smooth Solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  • Purple/sweet joe pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)
  • Wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium)
  • Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
  • Smooth penstemon/Foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
  • Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
  • Tall meadow rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)
  • Cream gentian (Gentiana flavida

Note: Not all of these seeds will be available at all seed libraries.

Why native plants?

“Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soils, are drought tolerant, disease resistant, and have deep root systems that help infiltrate rain water. Once established, native plants are aesthetically pleasing and require little watering, fertilizing and mowing. … They also provide important ecosystem services such as improved water quality and habitat and food for local wildlife, including numerous pollinator species.” (Dane County Land & Water Resources Department)

Interested in helping to pay it forward and collect native plant seeds? Visit https://lwrd.countyofdane.com/get-involved/volunteer to learn more.

Upcoming Events

Seed Starting

February 16, 6:30-7:30PM | Lakeview Library

Starting Seeds class at Lakeview LibraryStarting garden plants from seed can be a rewarding activity. In this talk you will hear from a certified Master Gardener Volunteer from Dane Co. Extension who will give you a solid foundation for growing your own garden plants from seeds.

Included in this talk are tips on factors that make for successful seed starting. You will learn how to purchase seeds, and plant and care for them until they are ready to be planted outdoors. A planting demonstration will be included in the talk. You will leave this talk feeling confident in your abilities to start seeds right in your own home.

Space is limited for this event; registration is required. SIGN UP ONLINE or call (608) 246-4547 to register. Registration opens on February 2 at 10 a.m., two weeks prior to program date.

This program is supported by the Friends of Lakeview Library. 

Seed Starting

March 4, 10-11:30AM | Goodman South Madison Library

Starting garden plants from seed can be a rewarding activity. In this talk you will hear from a certified Master Gardener Volunteer from Dane Co. Extension who will give you a solid foundation for growing your own garden plants from seeds.

Included in this talk are tips on factors that make for successful seed starting. You will learn how to purchase seeds, and plant and care for them until they are ready to be planted outdoors. A planting demonstration will be included in the talk. You will leave this talk feeling confident in your abilities to start seeds right in your own home. Don't forget to pick up seeds from Madison Public Library's Seed Library to use after the program! Space is limited for this event; registration is required. SIGN UP ONLINE or call (608) 266-6395 to register. Registration opens on February 13 at 10AM, two weeks prior to program date.


Funding

Madison Public Library's Seed Library began as a larger project called the Dane County Seed Library, which was started in 2014 with a $5,000 grant provided by the John A. Johnson Fund and an anonymous donor through the Madison Community Foundation. The Seed Library is currently funded by Madison Public Library and the Friends of Lakeview Library.