Have you ever stopped by some meadows just to appreciate and admire the colorful and beautiful wildflowers? Don’t you just wish you have your own garden filled with sweet-smelling and pretty flowers? The good news is you can recreate the eye-catching wildflower meadows you’ve always admired in your own garden.
You also don’t have to be an expert gardener to grow them. All you need is some wildflower seeds and water and you’re all set. If you want to learn how to sow wildflowers and how to take care of them, then you’ve come to the right place.
A Guide to Growing Wildflowers
If this is your first time planting a wildflower garden, this guide will help you understand how to plant and maintain them. You’ll also get to learn about some wildflowers you may want to consider in your garden.
Consider the best time to plant wildflowers
The best time to plant the seeds of wildflowers will depend on your location and the soil’s temperature. It is recommended to check your soil’s temperature to ensure the germination of your wildflower seed. The ideal soil temperature should be at least 55°F or could be a bit warmer. Keep in mind that during spring, the air and soil temperature changes are not the same. The air warms up faster than soil, so it doesn’t guarantee that warm air means warm soil, too. This is why it is important to check the soil’s temperature before sowing the seeds.
If you live in colder climates that experience freezing temperatures during winter, here are the things to remember when planting wildflowers in spring.
- Wait until there’s no threat of frost before planting.
- Late spring frosts can kill young seedlings, so even if the weather becomes warm in spring, consider the possibility of late spring frosts.
- Check your area’s chart on when is the last spring frost date is, and plant after that to prevent the danger of a cold snap.
- It’s best to wait until the air and soil have completely warmed before planting wildflowers. Check the soil’s temperature and see if it is already 55°F.
If you live in warmer climates, consider the following:
- For areas with intense summer heat, consider planting wildflowers in early spring. This will be both beneficial for perennial wildflowers and annual wildflowers. As always, check soil’s temperature and make sure it reaches 55°F.
- Check the rain forecast if you live in a dry and warm area and plant around that time. This will ensure that your seeds will be moist and will get enough water.
- Be sure to water your wildflower seedlings regularly if you plan on sowing in late spring or if the temperature gets warm earlier.
- Best to go for drought-tolerant wildflowers such as meadow sage, purple coneflower, and Agastache or native wildflowers if you live in areas with a very warm climate.
- For areas where it’s challenging to get access to water or is too warm, you can sow in the fall. You can keep your wildflower seed in an airtight canister while waiting for the fall season.
Pick a location and prepare your soil
Choosing the perfect location and soil preparation is the key to growing a healthy and beautiful wildflower meadow. Although wildflowers can grow almost anywhere if you are using a wildflower seed mix, it is ideal to find the right location to ensure they will all bloom.
Most wildflower require full sun exposure, so pick an area where the sun shines for more than 6 hours. However, if you have partial shade wildflower seed mixes, a spot with at least 4 hours and more of sun exposure would be enough.
You also need to find a site where there is proper drainage; this will be beneficial during rainy days. If water stands for more than an hour after raining, this may drown your seedlings. Your soil is another thing to consider, although if weed or grass seed grows in your soil, you can be sure your wildflower can thrive in it as they are very adaptable.
During soil preparation, be sure to clear the area of any plants, weeds, and grasses. You can use organic herbicides or hand tools to get rid of them. The reason for this is that your wildflower seeds will germinate well if they don’t have to share the water and nutrients with other plants. In addition to that, a loosened soil can help make the root grow easier.
Scatter your wildflower seeds
When and how you scatter the seeds is vital in ensuring your wildflower seedlings will thrive. There’s a proper way to scatter wildflower seeds; you don’t just throw and scatter them on the soil. Don’t pick a windy day or raining day to scatter them as they can be easily washed away by both the wind and rainwater. However, it is ideal to plan your wildflower planting when rainy days are near so, you won’t have to water them every day.
How to scatter wildflower seeds
- Get your seeds and divide them into two equal parts. Place each part in two separate bowls or buckets.
- Get 8 cups of dry sand and mix it with 1 cup of seeds. The ratio should be 8 parts of sand to 1 part of seeds. Be sure that your sand is dry so as not to clump which can cause uneven distribution. The reason why you need to mix your seeds with sand is to allow you to see easily where you planted them and to help you scatter them evenly.
- To evenly spread them, you can use a seed spreader. However, be sure to practice first before your planned planting time to ensure you are comfortable using it and understand how it works and how fast and how many seeds come out.
- One technique you can try to ensure you spread them evenly is by scattering your seeds in two plantings. Get the 1st half of your sand and seed mixture and while walking from north to south on your prepared soil. Spread them evenly. Then do the same thing with the other half but start in a different direction.
The amount of seed you need would depend on what’s recommended for your mix or your preferred single wildflower type. Most beginner gardeners make the mistake of adding more seeds in the hope of creating a more beautiful field of wildflowers. However, many of them tend to regret it as most some of the seedlings compete and strangle each other as they grow taller.
Follow good seed to soil contact
Once you have evenly scattered your seeds, it is time to compress them into the soil. This will allow a good seed to soil contact. Doing this will help speed up the germination process and it guarantees that nutrients and moisture from the soil will get into every seed.
It also allows your seeds to have a strong root system. Good seed to soil contact will prevent the seeds from being moved by water, wind, and other natural events.
There are several ways to compress your soil. You can use your foot to compress the seeds by stepping on them. You can do it with or without shoes. However, this is ideal for a small surface only as it can be very tiring if you planted in a very large area.
If you have a medium-sized flower bed, cardboard or plywood will do. Lay the board on the soil and walk on it. For larger areas, a seed roller will be handy. You can either attach it to a farm vehicle or tractor.
Unlike other plants or vegetation, wildflower seeds don’t need to be buried in the ground as they need to get some light to germinate. This is why you only need to scatter them onto the surface, compress them and leave them uncovered. However, there may be times that you might need to cover them not with soil but with straw. This is to allow light to get into the seeds even when covered with straw.
You may need to cover your seeds if you live in an area with strong winds that can move or blow your seedlings. If you are planting your seeds on a slope, you also need to cover them with straw to prevent them from getting carried downhill or from sticking together when it rains.
Water your wildflower seed
Now that you have planted your wildflower seeds, the next thing you need to do is water them and keep them hydrated. It is important to give them thoroughly soak them for at least 4 to 6 weeks or until they are at least 4 to 6 inches tall.
Rain will be beneficial for growing your wildflower seeds to keep your soil moist and the sun does not dry it up. If the weather is hot and dry, water your plants in the morning before the weather becomes too hot and repeat it the following morning. Your seedlings would need daily watering and care. If you have a sprinkler with a timer, you can use it to water your wildflower. This will make watering easier for you and you can be sure you will not forget watering them even on busy days.
Your wildflower seedlings will need a regular supply of water since they can’t get adequate groundwater in their roots. Since they are not buried in the ground, the seeds are exposed to the sun which requires lots of water to keep them from getting dehydrated.
Wait and watch them bloom
Now, all you have to do is wait and see your bed of wildflowers grow and bloom. It can take weeks before you see any growth; it will all depend on your growing conditions and the types of seed mixes you planted.
Perennial wildflowers need a full season of growth before they can bloom in the second year and in the coming seasons. Annual wildflowers typically bloom in 6 to 12 weeks, while biennial wildflowers only bloom in the second season.
As the wildflowers grow and bloom, most gardeners mow a path along their wildflower meadow. They sometimes add a bench so they can relaxingly admire their wildflowers. Others put up bird feeders and birdbaths. You can add anything you want to make the area more beautiful.
How to Maintain Your Wildflower Meadow
- Wildflower meadow maintenance will start even before the spring growing season. Mowing your plants in the fall will make your planting site ready for your wildflowers.
- During late fall you need to water your wildflowers lightly. If you want to dry some of your gorgeous wildflowers, late fall is also the best time to cut them. Maintaining your meadow in the fall usually only involves raking debris and getting rid of dead stalks. If you failed to mow your planting site last fall season, mowing it before springtime will help. After mowing, be sure to rake and clean up the area.
- If you don’t want to risk growing weeds in your meadow, pull them before they develop healthy seeds. It is recommended to pull weeds while the soil is moist to prevent further disturbance of the earth.
- Once you’re done cleaning and pulling out the weeds, you can mow your wildflowers and leave at least 4 to 6 inches of the wildflowers. You can mow them after weeks when the wildflowers had dried and turned brown.
- Mowing your meadow during the fall season will not only make your site clean but can also help in reseeding. However, don’t mow right away after reseeding. Wait until they have seeded if you want a full bloom of wildflowers when spring comes.
- If you live in a place with cold climates, reseeding during spring may be necessary. But those living in other climates may not need to reseed, as most flowers reseed on their own without the help of humans.
- Avoid raking after mowing if it only produced a thin layer of clippings. However, if you ended up having a thick layer of clippings, you might need to rake them lightly as a thick layer may prevent light, moisture, and air from getting in your new seedlings.
How to Control Weeds from Taking Over your Wildflower Meadow
Ensuring that weeds don’t take over your wildflower meadow is part of the maintenance. Although wildflowers need very little maintenance, weeds can grow among them. This usually happens when you overseed or skipped on preparing your site. Pulling the weeds can sometimes damage your wildflower roots. The best way to deal with weeds if you want to avoid ruining the soil and your flowers are to cut them with scissors.
Snip the weeds as low as you can and do it every two weeks. This will help control the weeds from taking over your wildflowers and soon your wildflowers will be the star of your meadow again. However, this may only be effective in a small-sized planting site.
As much as possible, avoid using chemical sprays as they may do more harm than good. You wouldn’t want to accidentally spray them on your wildflowers or other plants you want to grow. Aside from that, insects and other pollinators may be caught by chemical sprays.
How to Identify Weeds from Wildflowers
It may be difficult to identify whether the plants growing in your ground are weeds and wildflowers. You wouldn’t want to accidentally pull out a wildflower you’ve planted just because you thought it was a weed. To help you out, here’s a guide on how you can differentiate a flower from a weed.
- You can use technology to differentiate the two. Get your mobile phone and download a plant identification app. If you want to do it old school, you can purchase a wildflower identification book. This should help you familiarize yourself with the different wildflower species.
- Another thing you can do is to plant your seeds individually from your seed mix and see how they look like as they grow. Label them so you can easily identify them in your meadow.
- You can also try learning about the local weeds in your area. Find out how they look at every stage so, you can be sure that you won’t be pulling out a wildflower. Expect to see around 5 to 10 different weeds in your garden.
When the growing season comes, your wildflowers won’t be needing much help from you to thrive. This is particularly true during the start of their second year. However, you would still need to watch out for aggressive weeds and discourage their growth to keep your wildflowers healthy.
Wildflowers To Plant On Your Land
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)
This is one of the most planted wildflower species. This wildflower with golden-yellow color and brown-purple centers is native to North America. Its flowers can grow with a diameter of 2-3 inches and with leaves of about 6 inches. Different pollinators are attracted to Black-eyed Susan which helps in growing more seeds and fruits.
They bloom from June until October. When sowing this beautiful flower, you need to know that they may try to compete with other flowers planted close to them. When planting this plant, your soil temperature should be at least 70 degrees F. It can take at least 7 to 30 days for germination.
Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus)
This wildflower species is also known for other names such as succulent lupine and hollowleaf annual lupine. Native to California, this plant thrives in heavy soils or moist clays. Its flower can be purple-blue with a pink or white patch. They are one of the most water-tolerant wildflowers. They bloom during the months of April to May and germination period of around 15 to 75 days. They have a light fragrance and they attract pollinators such as bees and birds.
Joe Pye Weed (Eutrrochium Purpureum)
This flower is native to central and eastern North America. It is one of the late-blooming wildflowers with common names such as trumpet weed, gravel root, and kidney root. Just like other wildflowers, they attract pollinators like butterflies because of their vanilla scent. The best time to plant Joe Pye Weed is during spring after the frost snap is over. This species can thrive in moist or well-drained soil with full or partial sun exposure.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea)
This plant is under the aster family with colors of pink and purple. They bloom from the months of April to September. Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to purple coneflower. They also have medicinal benefits. Its extracts are believed to stop the formation of bacteria and enhance white blood count. However, they are best taken in a smaller dose a few times every day than taking them in large doses. Coneflower generally has a fast growth rate compared to other wildflowers.
Blanket Flower ( Gaillardia Aristata)
They are perfect for sunny gardens with their daisy-like flowers in bright red color with bright yellow edges. They grow from 2 to 3 feet. They grow better in areas with full sun exposure with dry to medium moisture soil.
Aster (Symphyotrichum Oblongifolium)
Asters provide a nice smell and usually grow during the fall season. They tend to be very tough and can hold slopes or rocky ground that are prone to erosion. It can grow from 1 foot to 3 feet. It has purple and blue color varieties and may require full sun exposure. Although they are known to be tough, you may need to put a stake when panted in windy areas.
Fun Facts About Wildflowers
- Wildflowers or wild flowers? Don’t worry, both are correct.
- The origin of the wildflower is still unknown, but based on fossil records, the first flower might have appeared on Earth around 80 million years ago.
- Wildflowers can grow anywhere and grows naturally even without human intervention.
- They are not hybrid plants.
- They can be found anywhere, whether in the middle of the desert or dark forest, meadow and even near a river or stream.
- Wildflowers can adapt easily to different weather conditions and types of soil.
- They are mostly native plants that serve as food for butterflies, bees, birds, and other insects.
- The most common wildflowers are daisy and common dandelion.
- There are over 1,600 varieties of wildflowers, and you can find at least 1,500 of them in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North America.
- You can find the longest wildflower trail in Mount Jiri (Republic of Korea) with a length of 295.1 km.
- The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve becomes a bed of orange poppies during spring.
- Wildflowers are not weeds and they can be hard to differentiate sometimes.
- A wildflower can help in keeping the soil healthy.
- Thanks to wildflowers, we have a variety of cultivated garden flowers.
- A lot of wildflower species have been lost because of invasive plants and land development.
- They help in regulating air quality by filtering pollutants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I just sprinkle wildflower seeds?
Yes, you do not need to dig the soil to plant wildflower seeds. You can sprinkle the seed into the ground or your planting surface and water the area where you planted them. Just make sure to keep the soil moist as the seeds grow.
When should wildflower seeds be planted?
While you can plant wildflower seeds any time of the year, the ideal time to plant is in autumn. Planting in autumn will give you the earliest blooming of wildflowers. It usually takes 60 to 80 days for these flowers to bloom when planted before or after autumn.
How long does it take for wildflowers to grow?
It normally takes 14 to 21 days for wildflowers to germinate. After germination, wait for another 45 to 60 days for them to bloom.
Is it easy to grow wildflowers?
Yes, they are very easy to grow and do not need much maintenance and caring for. As long as they are watered adequately, they’ll be in full bloom in no time.
What are early spring wild flowers?
The first flower to grow in early spring are the spring ephemerals, such as bloodroot, eastern spring beauties, trout lily, starflower, and the Virginia Bluebells.
Which wild flower grows in early summer?
The most common early summer wildflowers are Butterfly Milkweed, Purple Prairie Clover, and Oxe Eye Daisy.
Are you excited to plant wildflowers in your garden now? Whether you prefer perennial or native wildflower species, having your own wild flower meadow can be fulfilling and it does not need a lot of work. Aside from that, you can help a lot of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators have a place to live and eat. All the work is mostly done in the first year, but after that caring for your wild flower meadow will be a lot less work.
To sum it up, all you need is a nice spot for your wildflowers, soil preparation, scattering of the seed into the soil, watering them, wait for it to germinate, and witness the growth of your very own wildflower meadow. Soon you’ll have a garden filled with yellow, white, blue, red, and purple flowers.