Feeling inspired by all of the wildflowers of ‘superbloom’ 2019? 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. Waiting to plant the seeds until it’s time for them to germinate ensures more of your seeds become flowers.
In Arizona, for example, 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.
When planting wildflower seeds in cold areas that experience freezing temperatures and snowfall, it’s important to wait to plant until after the threat of frost has passed and soil temperatures are at least 55℉.
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. 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. After sowing seeds, move rocks back into place.
How do I plant wildflowers?
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.
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 want a wildflower identification field guide to help identify what is sprouting – weed or wildflower?!
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 (such as we are experiencing in 2019), 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!