Growing plants from seeds is probably my favorite part of gardening. My second favorite part of being a gardener is finding ways to make gardening easier for myself and spending less money. While I spend a lot of time growing seeds in plastic baggies, and making homemade biodomes, I find direct sowing seeds to be the best method for perennials. Take, for example, this purple coneflower seed head I direct sowed in the garden last fall. Purple coneflowers are so inexpensive at garden centers and nurseries, but they're even cheaper to grow from seed, especially if you direct sow your purple coneflower seeds in the fall.
In the fall as the blooms to go seed I'll just cut off the seed heads of my purple coneflowers and stick them right in the soil where I want them to grow. If I'm not feeling like a lazy gardener, which isn't often, I may break apart the "cones" and spread the seed. Usually, I just plant the whole seed head in the soil. Sometimes I come across the purple coneflower seed heads sprouting in the garden when I'm working the soil to plant something else like in the picture above.
The result is an expansion of the purple coneflower colonies in the garden which attract a lot of Red Admiral butterflies.
I know that by direct sowing the entire purple coneflower seed head I'm breaking a couple of seed starting rules, but I don't care. I don't expect every single seed that you see sprouted in the photograph above to grow into a mature flowering plant, just some of them. Purple coneflowers seeds need to undergo stratification to germinate and sowing individual seeds inside seems like a waste when I can just plunge an entire seed head into the soil and let nature do the work. This fall as you're preparing to put the garden to bed if you have any purple coneflowers that you're thinking of saving seeds from, don't do it! Just stick the seed heads in the soil where you want them to grow and soon you'll have more coneflowers than you know what to do with.