First step? Plan ahead. Prepare your site by having the soil in that area tested to determine the pH. Proper pH will allow your wildflowers to absorb nutrients from the soil and benefit most greatly by the fertilizer you apply. This is the time to add any soil amendments that are indicated by the pH reading and soil composition. Kill the existing weeds and grasses by using a non-selective herbicide such as Killzall or Roundup. A second application of the herbicide, 10 days to two weeks later, may be necessary.
Remove the debris and scuff up the soil. Tilling is not recommended because that can raise weed seeds, otherwise too deep to germinate, closer to the soil surface and allow them sprout. If you want to keep the existing grass, mow to 2” in height and rake up the clippings.
Take note of the amount of sunlight your new garden will receive keeping in mind that trees in the area leafing out may reduce the number of sunny hours in that particular area. There are blends of wildflower seeds, containing both annuals and perennials, that are partially shade tolerant so don’t be discouraged if you find your desired location to be not quite as sunny as you originally thought.
Decide on the kind of flowers you want on your site.
• Lots of color – sow more heavily
• Flowers the first year – plant a mix of annuals and perennials
• Meadow effect – wild flowers combined with ornamental grasses
• Just perennials
Know your seed package. Read the label to check the expiration date. Notice the percentage of seeds as well as the type of seeds. Find the information about fillers, the purity of the blend, germination rate and the number of square feet the package will cover. Many mixes and sizes of packages are available at Wedel’s. Here’s an idea of what you’ll find here. We have 2 ounce packages that cover 500 square feet; 1 pound packages to cover 1,000 to 4,000 square feet depending on the mix.
Olds Earth Carpet Seeds have no fillers and are pure seeds. Beauty Beyond Belief come in 1 ounce packages for 100 square feet, 4 ounce packages for 375 square feet, 8 ounce packages for 750 square feet and 1 pound packages to cover 1,500 square feet. There is no filler; all pure seed.
The types of seeds we have at Wedel’s are:
• Deer resistant
• Birds and butterflies
• Drought tolerant
• Native prairie
• Midwest nature mix
• Low growing
• All annual
• Erosion control
• Midwest meadow
• Crown vetch
• Economy meadow grass with wildflowers
• Low maintenance grass with wildflowers
We carry packages to cover small and large areas and can place special orders if we don’t have what you need.
Be aware of optimal sowing times. Mixes with annual seeds should not be planted after June 3. Annuals will not have enough time to flower and self-sow. If sown past this date, annual seeds can be added in the following year.
The best time to plant perennial mixes is mid-August. to mid-September. Perennials will put down roots and flower the following year.
Plant any mixes in late fall when soil temperatures are below 50 degrees. For this method to succeed, make sure your site is well prepared and weed free as outlined above.
Immediately before sowing the seeds scruff the soil up. Seeds are best sown with a carrier such as Milorganite or sand. One handful of seeds to one quart of carrier is the right ratio. Lightly rake the seed in by hand or use a lawn roller to lightly set the seeds. Always avoid planting too deeply or on compacted soil.
Keep soil moist for several weeks in order to assure the germination of as many species as possible and then reduce watering. Seedlings usually emerge in 2 to 3 weeks with the first bloom of annuals in about 6 to 10 weeks. If, by mid-summer, you have a crop of weeds, mow at the highest setting on your mower and reseed annuals in the spring and again in the fall. Be sure to irrigate during dry spells. The first fall after sowing, mow the site to a height of 4 to 6 inches in order to scatter the seeds.
If you do the prep work properly, sow at the right time and maintain the correct level of moisture, especially as your new seeds are germinating and sprouting, overseed as needed with some of your favorites and weed periodically, you will have a beautiful wildflower garden to enjoy for many years to come.
Come by Wedel’s and check out our wildflower garden. Our knowledgeable staff will enjoy chatting with you about the wildflower garden you’ve always wanted.