Native plant seeds behave a little differently than most garden cultivars. Follow the link to learn more...
Native plants have gotten the reputation for being hard to start from seed, but nothing could be further from the truth. The trick - don't treat them like just any old seed from a packet.
Native plants need to sprout in the wild. To prevent seed from sprouting and then quickly dying during the middle of winter or other hostile conditions, many types of native seed have developed mechanisms to prevent just that. The seed has to go through a winter season to germinate. The freeze thaw cycles of winter will help crack protective seed coats and work the seed into the soil. There are some native seeds that lean toward the prima donna side of the spectrum that require lots of seed prep, but for most native plant seeds, going through a winter cycle will work. Your native seed vendor will know which plants require more seed prep.
Why isn't that the case for pansies, petunias, and other garden favorites? For one thing, many of them are not native. Winter may not be something that is an issue where they are originally from. Secondly, in general, those plants have been cultivated (cultivars) over the years, and one of the traits that growers may have selected for is near instantaneous germination.
Here are some examples of native plants whose seed likes to go through a winter season to germinate: Prairie Onion, New England Aster, Bottle Gentian, Prairie Blazingstar, and Cardinal Flower.
So, if you have some native seed you've been wanting to try, consider starting it outside now to let winter work its magic.