Activity | Seed Ball | Desert Botanical Garden


Did you say seed ball?

Spring is a perfect time to start or replant a garden. Gardening in the desert can be tricky and it is important to understand the best strategy for a successful garden. Indigenous people have created expansive gardens throughout the Sonoran Desert using extensive canal systems, sunken beds (to capture rain) and tapping into seasonal rain patterns to help keep their gardens flourishing. In contrast, early farmers who first learned to garden in the desert, used to spend hours reseeding their fields, often with little pay off. Their seeds would lay on top of the soil and wash away, often eaten by animals or baked by the sun resulting in an unsuccessful crop.

Trial and error led farmers to using seed balls to help the seeds germinate (grow). Seed balls consist of many different seeds rolled into a ball with clay, and addressed the problems farmers had with having a bountiful crop. The seed ball strategy simplied the process–allowing farmers to easily walk their fields and toss the seed balls without significant worry of germination.

Create a Seed Ball

Seed balls are a great way to reseed a garden and teach kids of all ages the importance of native plants and the environment while creating habitat for local animals.


  • Dirt/Clay
  • Native Seeds
  • Shredded Newspaper
  • Water
  • Large Mixing Tub
  • Cool Dry Place for Storage

Seed balls activity materials


  1. Shred newspaper into fine bits.
  2. Mix two parts dirt/clay with five parts shredded newspaper and water together in a large tub. Slowly add more water until the mixture is the consistency of modeling clay.
  3. Add seeds to the mixture. Keep kneading the mixture until the seeds are mixed evenly.
  4. Take small bits of the soil mixture and roll into a ball about one inch in diameter. The ball should hold together easily. If not, add more water.
  5. Squeeze out the water and let sit in a cool dry place for at least 24 hours.
  6. Your seed balls are ready to go! Place them carefully over the area you want planted.
  7. Watch them grow!

Mixing seed balls

Native seed ball

Native seed balls

Seed Sources:
The Garden Shop has many seed packs available in store and online.  Did you know that free seeds are also available through the Phoenix Public Library. To learn more, click here.