Perhaps you want to take care of migrating Monarch butterflies. Maybe you want to attract the bees and pollinating insects to your vegetables. Or, perhaps you want beautiful, natural seasonal color. Wilflowers can give you all of this, and more! The best time to plant their seed is now, in late summer, and not later as one might think.
First make sure you have full to part sun (at least six hours). There are many varieties to choose from, and some will take less than full sun and still do well.
Make sure you select varieties native to your area. Here at NHG, we have many sizes, mixes and single-species packs from which you can select. Annual species such as larkspur are best started now. These are the types that will usually germinate in fall and winter, bloom beautifully in spring, and then set seed in late summer. More perennial types, those that once started will last for many years, can be planted in spring as well as fall. Good examples to try are Echinacea and Rudbeckia. These perennials will be very rewarding to have in your landscape. Ours was an Engelmannia, or cutleaf daisy.
There are also annuals that reseed, such as our renowned bluebonnet. Remember that once many of the annual types set seed, they might not be the most attractive plants to have by themselves front and center in your landscape, unless you are going for a very wild or naturalistic look. Sometimes it’s best to reserve your wildflower area for the back areas of your landscape, or integrate them into other planting areas so they are not the focal point once they are past their prime blooming time.
You’ll actually be only minimally preparing soil for wildflowers. Prepare your selected site by either scraping the soil bare of existing grasses and removing the resulting debris, or choose a more bare site, and remove any weeds. The key is seed-to-soil contact.
Rake or lightly cultivate no deeper than about one inch to expose loose soil. Most wildflowers do not like to have their seeds buried very much.
Ready to seed? Lightly scatter the seeds over your soil by hand. If the seeds you have are very small, mixing them with a lightweight carrier such as coarse sand or perlite will help you distribute them more evenly over the site.
Try a ‘crossword’ pattern: sweep across, then once more up and down until the entire area is uniformly covered. Then, simply walk firmly through your garden, gently pushing the seeds into contact with the soil.
You may end up seeing some of the seed on top of the soil when you’re done, and this is fine. You can also turn a light leaf rake over, and carefully draw it across the area. It’s most important to have the seed contact the soil surface very well.
Unless you’re making large natural areas of wildflowers and depending on natural rainfall, you’ll need to water your seeds carefully, using a light misting- make sure you don’t unnecessarily spread the seeds out, or cover them with much soil.
Keep the top soil from drying out at all times. Once most seedlings have reached the one inch high size, you can begin to reduce watering frequency. Often 2-3 times a week might end up being sufficient.
As your new garden grows, there is minimal maintenance. Be on the lookout for invasive weeds and grasses, as most wildflowers need a lack of these competitors to get thoroughly established. Each year, be sure to allow the flowers to go to seed first before you mow or remove any spent plants. This way, your wildflowers will spread and return each year on their own.
You can always drop by and speak with a Garden Advisor if you have questions on starting your own bit of wildness!