You’re a lucky person if you’ve seen open fields or mountainous canyons filled with the untamed beauty of wildflowers. It’s only natural that gardeners would want to capture some of that magic and add it to their own landscapes.
The practice of creating meadow and prairie gardens is increasing. Plants in this category such as Black Eyed Susans, Asters, Coneflowers, Blue Eyed Grass and Northern Lights Grass are extremely hardy, drought resistant, not to mention gorgeous! Prairie and meadow gardens should typically be located in sunny areas and these plants tend to bloom during summer. To keep things beautiful throughout the season, you may wish to plant with a backdrop of taller evergreens and add some spring blooming bulbs or other flowers into the mix.
Woodland wildflowers tend to be smaller, daintier and tolerate some shade. Buttercups, Violets, and Columbine are examples of showy wildflowers that will do well without as much sun.
Planting plugs is instantly gratifying, but can be expensive if doing a large area. For beds and smaller gardens, plugs may be the best option as they will establish sooner and are usually easier to weed around. After several years, many of these plants will spread and replicate on their own or can be divided to create a bigger garden.
However, if you plan on naturalizing a large area, using seeds may be the best option. For every 10 square feet of space you will typically need 1 package of wildflower seed. Thoroughly weed your space, then till several inches, but not much deeper than that. Next, mix your seed with some sort of inert material so that the seed will not blow away. Vermiculite or peat moss is commonly used for this purpose. You should aim to use 1:8 ratios of seed to inert material.
Then simply broadcast your seed mix in your tilled area. When it is evenly coated, stamp down your seeds. A light topping of straw mulch may be used to protect seeds from wind and retain moisture.
Plants can take one to several years to establish from seed. But the results are well worth it. Sowing seeds in late fall is generally best for germination.
In many places like woodlands, there may be no seeding or planting required. Often native wildflowers are sitting dormant underneath a canopy of invasive species. Pulling out non-native plants such as Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, and Garlic Mustard (in some areas) can yield a wonderful array of wildflowers that were waiting for you to give them their chance to bloom on!
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