The bees are abuzz because it's spring, the season for gardening! If you're looking to transform your ordinary backyard this year, grow wildflowers. Planting wildflowers is perhaps one of the easiest activities in spring gardening. Unlike other spring-blooming flowers, they are easy to maintain and may not need additional tending during the growing season. Wildflowers have weed-like features that allow them to dominate in a barren landscape as soon as the temperatures warm up. They are also versatile and can adapt in urban and suburban gardens, where external stresses are always present.
Still not convinced? Keep reading to learn about the benefits and how to plant wildflower seeds.
Benefits of Growing Wildflowers
Growing wildflowers from seed in your lawn can bring a natural meadow into your backyard, making it a muscle-stretching hobby after being cooped up during the cold season. Wildflowers can:
- Attract pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and birds.
- Help reduce pest infestations in your garden.
- Add color and beauty to the landscape.
- Improve soil health.
- Diversify your backyard.
- Protect the soil from wind and rain erosion.
Now that you know the benefits of growing wildflowers, let's dive into when and how to plant them.
How to Choose the Right Wildflower Plant
When it comes to choosing the right wildflower plants for your garden, there are several factors to consider:
- Plant native wildflowers: It's important to choose native wildflowers adapted to your region to avoid competing with local flora, which can have catastrophic ecological consequences. For example, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and American blue vervain (Verbena hastata) are native to the US and Canada.
- Consider local climate: Choose wildflowers that are expected to adapt well to the local climatic conditions. However, some species have a wide range of tolerance, including black-eyed Susan, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and wooly mullein (Verbascum thapsis).
- Soil moisture: If your garden soil is often waterlogged, opt for moist-loving species such as Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Rose Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua), and Pale Gentian (Gentiana villosa). Dry-loving plants like Black-Eyed Susan, lupines, cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), and Cosmos (Cosmos spp.) may fail to grow in inedeaquate moisture.
- Select a diverse mix: The more diverse the species blend, the better the chances of establishment. Many wildflower seed packets are sold as mixtures adapted to your zone.
- Perennials vs. annuals: Perennials may take longer to emerge but come back year after year. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata), and Blue Flax (Linum perenne) are some ideal perennials to sow. Meanwhile, annual plants may emerge immediately but are ephemeral. Sometimes, seeds dropped on the ground may sprout the following season, but the chances are minimal. Consider beautiful annual wildflowers such as coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.), California poppy seeds (Eschscholzia californica), and zinnia (Zinnia spp.).
After considering all these tips, it's time to find your green soulmate. Wildflowers, like people, are versatile. Find the one that speaks to you and bring it to life in your garden!
How to Plant Wildflower Seeds Step-by-Step
Follow the simple steps on how to grow wildflowers:
Choose the Right Spot
Laws, sunny backyards, or gardens are perfect for creating artificial wildflower meadows. It promotes germination, reduces fungal diseases, and induces flowering.
Clear the Weeds
Weeding the area is crucial to make the wildflower grow successfully. Manual uprooting, cultivating the soil, burning dried grasses, spraying herbicides, or combining these techniques are some of your choices. If weed control is not done prior to seeding, your wildflowers may fail to grow.
Sow the Wildflower Seeds
Broadcasting or sprinkling wildflowers on the ground is the next step after denuding the land. It can be done manually or with hydroseeding techniques which are applied with the use of seeding equipment. Unless your garden is golf-course size, manual seeding is recommended. Use sand as an additive to the seeds to facilitate even application.
Irrigate the seeded area using a garden hose or sprinklers. Do it thoroughly to ensure the water permeates the seed coat, which is crucial for the seed embryo to emerge.
Wildflowers do not need close tending. You might need to water them again, if the soil has been completely dry for long. If there is an expected late spring frost, little can be done when the seeds have emerged. However, you can cover the field with a plastic burlap net or old blankets to keep them cozy and prevent the adverse effects of the cold spell.
Oh… One more step. Enjoy your spring meadow, of course.
Wildflower Plant Care Tips
After learning how to plant wildflowers, here are some tips to guarantee your plant’s establishment and blooming:
- Stomping or pressing the seeds. Treading the seeded ground may sound destructive to the seedlings, but it will help them germinate. The greater the soil contact, the higher the chances of germination.
- Adding compost. Wildflower seeds can germinate in poor soil conditions, but adding compost increases the success rate of seeding. Compost contains some nutrients, helps conserve moisture, and promotes flowering.
- Secondary watering. If you live in dry climates, keeping the ground moist after establishment will help wildflower seeds develop solid and deep roots. Water it during the first 2-3 weeks after germination.
- Do not apply fertilizers. Adding fertilizer may do more harm than good. Because wildflowers are low nutrient-requiring plants, concentrated fertilizers might be more beneficial to the weeds. Adding compost is enough for wildflowers.
Now you're all set! Put the gardening gloves on.
When to Plant Wildflower Seeds
In general, the best time to plant wildflower seeds is in the fall in regions that experience harsh winters where the ground can be snow-covered or the temperatures remain below freezing for several months. On the other hand, if you are in a tropical or mild winter zone, you can plant in winter, spring, or just before the rainy season begins. Here are some specific guidelines for when to plant wildflower seeds based on growing zones:
The climate in zone 5 is characterized by four distinct seasons. Although winter is considered mild in northernmost areas, it often reaches subzero (-20°C or -28.9°F) minimum average temperatures. Therefore, planting in mid to late autumn from October to November is recommended. The cold can keep the plant dormant and promote germination as the temperature rises.
Zone 6 is described as having cold winters and warm summers. The average temperatures can range between -17 to -12°C (0-10°F). Like zone 5, autumn is the recommended season for planting wildflower seeds, roughly from November to December. However, with the proper selection of species, some can be sown after the last frost date in winter.
In zone 8, the season for planting wildflowers is also from autumn to winter (September to December). The average minimum temperatures can also reach below freezing, although they are higher than in the previous zones. Fall plantings of wildflower plants will ensure early sprouts in the following spring. Alternatively, spring planting is also possible after the last frost date. Just ensure you water your plants properly.
Finding out your zone is just as exciting as reading about your zodiac sign, if you're a green thumb. Google right away!
How Long Does It Take for Wildflowers to Grow?
The answer depends on the species and the field conditions that stimulate the emergence of wildflower seedlings. Various species have different time frames before they emerge. If given the right conditions, seeds sown in spring can take approximately 2-3 weeks to emerge and bloom about 2-3 months later. Autumn seeding may take longer as germination is inhibited by the cold. However, as soon as the early signs of spring arrive, you will soon see the lush vegetation of your wildflowers!
Wildflowers are low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow. If you haven't tried gardening with wildflowers before, now is the perfect time to start! Planting wildflowers is a simple way to help the environment by promoting biodiversity and providing habitat for local wildlife.
Share your wildflower-growing experiences in the comments section below and connect with other wildflower enthusiasts. We would love to hear about your success stories!
What Is the Best Way to Plant Wildflower Seeds?
The best way to plant wildflower seeds is to scatter them on weed-free ground and then tamp the ground down lightly to ensure good soil contact. After sowing, give the area a generous watering to stimulate germination.
Can Wildflower Seeds Just Be Sprinkled on the Ground?
Yes, wildflower seeds can be sprinkled on the ground, especially for small lawn areas. We recommend mixing the seeds with sand to ensure uniform distribution. For larger areas, hydroseeding is recommended.
Do Wildflowers Come Back Every Year?
Some wildflowers, such as perennials and some annuals, can come back every year. Annuals may self-seed, but the results may not be as consistent as reseeding the area yourself.