Gardening With Wildflower & Native Grass Seeds
Growing any type of flower garden from seed is easy and very inexpensive compared to potted plants. Whether you want a flowing meadow of wildflowers, a neatly structured look, or anything in between, your imagination is your guide. The use of wildflower and garden flower seeds can be used to create your flowering masterpiece or to enhance as existing area.
Establishing any type of plant from seed does take planning, preparation, and maintenance. If you follow the guidelines outlined for growing beautiful wildflowers, I promise you will pleased with the results.
Assessment and Planning
An assessment of your site for planting is imperative before site preparation. Throwing seeds onto an area without care generally produces unwanted results. All seeds and plants compete for water and nutrients. Seeds that have to compete with established vegetation have a much lower germination rate. Evaluation of unwanted vegetation is your first step.
Secondly, does your site have adequate moisture to ensure germination and support seedlings in case of drought? Is supplemental water available if needed? Ample water will enhance germination success and length of blooming time.
Thirdly, plan the overall design of your garden. Decide on the height, color, and special needs (i.e. shade, sun, dry, wet) of your area to be planted. Then select the plant species or mix that will thrive in those conditions, and will provide you with the criteria delineated. Measure the square footage of the area to be planted in order to calculate the amount of seed needed.
Preparation of the area is extremely important to establish a perfect wildflower garden or meadow. Ridding the area of weeds and turf grass before you start is a must. If you have a small area you can dig it by hand and then dispose of all weeds and their roots. Weeds should be disposed of in garbage bags to prevent seed dispersal. If you have an area to big to dig up by hand, spray the area with an herbicide like Round-Up, and once the area has died back, remove weeds by raking and dispose of them properly. If your site is extremely weedy, spray with herbicide, let the area vegetation die back, water the area to induce germination of weeds and grass, then when the area germinates again, spray with herbicide again. Remove dead debris. Wait at least 2 weeks before seeding after herbicide treatment.
If you chose not to use herbicide, you can lay black plastic over the area, securing the edges, and not adding any moisture, to burn up unwanted vegetation. This works on very small areas, but does not get rid of the weed seeds that are in the soil.
If you start with weeds and grass and seed the area, you will end up with what you started with, weeds and grass! You will be happy you took the time to prepare your area before seeding.
After ridding the area of vegetation you will need to loosen or till up the soil at least 3-4 inches. You need to have a soil surface that is "bumbled-up", not hard pan. All seeds need to have a soil-seed contact for germination.
Small areas can be broadcast seeded by hand or use of a drop or cyclone spreader. I have hand seeded areas of an acre or more by hand, and found that with planting, it is not that time consuming. Before seeding divide your area into 4 or more equal parts, more parts for larger areas. Then divide you seed into equal parts into plastic bags. By placing each bag of seed on each equal area you will ensure that your seeds will cover your area equally and not use the seed up too quickly. If you use a spreader add 1 to 2 parts of clean sand with one part of your seeds. This will help even the flow of seed, as some seeds are as small as pepper and others the size of a pea. After seeding rake the area LIGHTLY, as not to push the seeds to one side of the site. Using the rake in a chopping motion works very well. If you are seeding a large area you can pull a piece of chain link fencing over the seeded area with an ATV or riding mower. Simply attach the piece of fencing with a chain or strap used for hauling at two ends of the fencing and attach to the ATV at the hitch.
Each wildflower and grass specie has a different number of seeds per pound, selecting the amount of seeds depends on the types of flower and grass species you decide on. Minimum rates are based on 60-70 seeds per square foot or 4 - 12 pounds per acre. This rate is recommended for maximum color when the area has been properly prepared.
When to Plant
The best time to plant in your area depends on the climate and rainfall patterns as well as the species you are planting. In cool climates, plant annuals, perennials or mixtures of annuals and perennials in the spring, early summer or late fall. Fall plantings should be late enough so that seeds do not germinate until spring. Planting after the fall equinox usually works great. When ever you plant the seeds will need at least 10-12 weeks of frost free growing time to establish properly. Late fall plantings are advantageous when supplemental water cannot be provided and adequate rain fall is anticipated in the spring.
In milder climates plant during the cooler months of the year, fall through spring, for the best results. Fall plantings done prior to periods of rainfall will insure an early display of flowers the following spring.
If you have more patience than money, or you just want to grow your own, follow the basic steps, whether you have 100 square feet or acres, and I guarantee astounding results.
What To Expect
Seeds will germinate within 1 to 6 weeks, depending on the seeds type, plus the soil and air temperature; this is where patience come in handy. Annuals bloom the first year. Those plants die, but reproduce by seed each spring. Perennials grow foliage the first year, bloom the second year. Perennial plants live for years, producing new plants each year by seeds. To enhance reseeding mow or stomp the plants down to 4-6" after they are dead from frost, leaving the residue on the ground, as it is full of seeds for the next growing season. Do not Mow green plants.
Wildflowers can be combined with native bunch grasses for a low maintenance meadow, seeded overt bulbs, around potted plants, shrubs and trees; the combinations are as extensive as your imagination.
You can use the low-growing fescues for a no-mow lawn too!
Now be patient and watch your garden grow!
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