Feeling inspired by the wildflowers of “superblooms”? Learn how to grow wildflowers that come back year after year in your own yard, and you won’t have to travel far to see a show put on by mother nature.
I’ve partnered with Kellogg Garden to bring you this post about how to grow wildflowers.
How to grow wildflowers
Which wildflowers should I plant?
For the best blooms year after year, choose wildflowers native to your area. Wildflower mixes are often sold as regional mixes – choose a correct one for your region or choose a single type native to your area.
Growing wildflowers native to your area improves your chances of success, as these flowers have adapted to your region’s growing conditions. Adding native wildflowers is also a great way to benefit the native pollinators and beneficial insects in your area.
When do I plant wildflowers?
You can plant wildflower seeds any time of year because temperature and moisture levels trigger the seeds to germinate. However, environmental factors such as birds and strong winds may reduce the number of seeds. The best time to plant wildflowers in most areas is in the fall.
When planting wildflower seeds in cold areas that experience freezing temperatures and snowfall, it’s important to prepare the ground for planting BEFORE the soil freezes. Once you have had several hard freezes, then plant your wildflower seeds. Seeds will be dormant through the winter and germinate as temperatures warm in the spring.
In mild winter climates, plant wildflower seeds 60-90 days before your first predicted winter frost. Seeds will germinate in the early winter and bloom through the spring.
In the low desert of Arizona, plant seeds for spring bloomers from September through December. Spring-blooming wildflowers normally germinate in early winter, bloom from February through April, and then drop seed in April and May. The seeds are dormant through the summer until rain and cooler temperatures begin the cycle again.
Where do I plant wildflowers?
You may decide to plant wildflowers for many reasons:
- to replace a lawn
- a border for a property line
- erosion control
- a beautiful view
It may be best to begin by seeding small areas to gain experience and to see what you like. For best results, choose a site that gets at least 6 hours of sun each day. Soil should drain well and be weed free.
How do I plant wildflowers?
- Use a shovel or rake to loosen the top inch or so of soil.
- If the area to plant seeds contains decomposed granite mulch (rocks), pull back rocks and work the top inch or two of soil.
- Many wildflower mixes have filler mixed in to the mix, but if not, mix your seed with 1 part seed to 5 parts sand. Adding a filler before mixing gives a more even distribution of seeds.
- Scatter seeds evenly by hand, or use a hand-broadcast spreader for larger areas.
- After spreading seeds, simply walk directly over the planting area or use a seed roller for larger areas to compress seeds into soil.
- Do not cover wildflower seeds with soil.
- If you pulled rocks back in order to plant, move rocks back into place after planting seeds.
How do I water wildflowers?
Once planted, wait for the winter rains to germinate the seeds.
If you choose instead to water your wildflower seeds, water so that the soil is moist, not soaking wet each day until seedlings emerge. You may need to water 1-2 times per day for 7-10 days to encourage germination.
You may want a wildflower identification field guide to help identify what is sprouting – weed or wildflower? Learn to identify wildflower seedlings and common weeds for your area so you can tell the difference.
Once seedlings are 4-5” tall, water every 7-10 days if no rains are present. The seedlings will usually survive on natural rains. Some years winter rains are plentiful and the blooms are too. In drier years, there may be fewer blooms.
What do I do after the wildflowers bloom?
- Leave plants in place so they can “go to seed”.
- Normally, each flower develops into several seeds. As they mature, seeds fall to the ground, “planting” next year’s blooms for you.
- Once seeds have dropped, plants can be pulled up (shaking off excess seeds into the ground) or flattened to provide a natural mulch for the seeds.
Next year, and in the following years, seeds will sprout and grow all on their own. Sit back and enjoy the accrued benefits!