Tips For Growing A Wildflower Garden
Whether you are planting a single garden bed or trying to grow an entire meadow, wildflowers can provide a shock of bright yet low maintenance color to your landscape. The following tips will help you integrate the wildflowers into your landscape with the least amount of effort or trouble.
Tip #1: Pick a regional mix
Before purchasing a mix of wildflower seed packets, make sure the selections in the mix grow well in your area and aren't considered an invasive species. This may require a phone call to your local Master Gardeners, Noxious Weed Board, or nursery. Keep in mind that a plant seen as invasive in one area may not be in yours. For example, morning glories can be invasive in temperate climates where they survive year around, but they are generally non-invasive in areas that experience deep killing freezes in the winter. This is why it is best to check each plant variety on the seed packet with a professional agency in your area to be sure. Native wildflower mixes are the best option.
Tip #2: Verify plant care
The best wildflower mixes will have a combination of plants that have the same basic sun and water requirements. This ensures they all grow well together. For the least amount of maintenance opt for regional varieties that thrive in your area's natural moisture. For example, drought-hardy flowers are a better choice for areas with dry summers, while those that need a bit of extra moisture may be a better choice for planting in wet climates or marshy soils.
Tip #3: Prepare the spot
Minor preparation is necessary. You will need to till the top couple of inches of the entire planting area. This is simple enough to do by hand in a small bed, or you can use a gas-powered tiller in a larger area. If you are preparing a new spot, prep the bed several weeks before planting and treat it with a broad spectrum herbicide. Choose one that is only active for a few weeks, such as glyphosate, so that the poison doesn't linger in the soil. Once the weeds die and the poison is no longer active, according the herbicide label, rake the soil a final time.
Tip #4: Provide care
Wildflower seeds are generally spread over the soil and lightly covered with compost or topsoil. Keep the bed evenly moist until the seeds sprout and become established. Once healthy, growing well, and flowering, you should be able to reduce watering until they are simply surviving off of natural moisture. You may still need to water occasionally during extremely dry weather. In general, your wildflowers should require minimal care beyond this. Allow flowers to go to seed and reseed so you don't have to plant. If you cut back the flowers, do so in winter after they have already dropped their seed.