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It's Time To Plant Wildflowers

It’s Time To Plant Wildflowers

Wildflowers often appear in spring, sprouting in abandoned or fallow fields, pastures, along railroad tracks or country roads. The seeds initially brought there by birds, or other animals have reseeded themselves. Unlike many of our domesticated and non natives plants, wildflower reseeding occurs in the fall, when the flowers drop off, seeds form and fall to the ground.

A growing number of gardeners along the Gulf Coast are becoming particularly fond of native wildflowers, using them as accents in their yards. Some have entirely removed turfgrass and simply rely on native plants and wildflowers.

Like natural reseeding, most wildflowers need to be sown now for them to sprout in the spring.

How to sow wildflowers

Wildflowers and prairie grasses are best sown on bare ground. Decide the area you want to plant the seeds and then remove any vegetation from it. Rake the bare soil to loosen it, but don’t rake more than an inch. That’s because weed seeds may lie dormant deeper than an inch, bringing them to the surface will cause them to germinate.

Mix your seed with some coarse sand, equal to the volume of the seeds e.g., a palmful of seeds plus a palmful of sand. For larger areas, a pound of sand for a pound of seeds. Lightly spread the mix on the spots you’ve designated. Then, sprinkle more mixture of sand and seed a second time. Some gardeners add a light compost dusting. I prefer to press the seeds into the soil with my foot. Since wildflower seeds need sunlight to germinate, simply putting them in contact with the earth will be enough to ensure they will grow.

This method works particularly well when you have a patch of lawn that is not doing very well. Wildflower patches quickly replace dead grass, adding another element of beauty to your yard.

Another method

Some gardeners spread wildflower seeds direction over an area already covered by lawn. You will need to use more seed to compete with the turfgrass, but remember, turfgrass usually goes dormant in the winter. Since most wildflowers need cooler weather to begin the germination process, the dormant grass lessens the competition. Just remember not to mow that area in the spring, because, in addition to clipping the green, you’ll also top off the wildflowers.

Don’t expect a wildflower prairie right away. It may take up to three years for the plants to reach their full potential. But when it does, voila! You have a beautiful garden.

Great sources for wildflowers abound, but I have found two that are exceptionally good. And no, I do not make a commission from either of these sources:

Native Plant Society of Texas

Louisiana Native Plant Society

Mississippi Native Plant Society

Alabama Native Plant Society

Florida Native Plant Society

Chelsea Green Publishing - the leading publisher of sustainable living books since 1985.