Home Gardens: How To Grow Wild Flowers

An overview on preparing and growing a wildflower garden.

A wildflower garden can be one of the most beautiful aspects of your yard. Wildflowers are easy to grow and easy to maintain. When beginning to think about wildflowers, the key idea is to think native, as most wildflowers do best in the geographic location that is part of the normal environment where they will thrive.

Cultivating wildflowers offer many benefits to your property. Not only do they offer color and contrast, but also they allow attract a unique variety of songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Wildflowers offer these birds and other creatures food and shelter, thus giving them help in survival.

The first thing to think about when deciding on a wildflower garden is where to begin. You will want to choose a spot in your yard that is not only beneficial to the wildflowers, but also allow you the view to enjoy. The initial step is to evaluate your soil and how much sun/shade the spot you choose has to offer. Once you know that, it's a simple matter of choosing the right seed for your soil and sunlight factors.

Next, you will need to get the site ready for planting. First, you will need to get rid of all grasses and weeds so they are not competing for nutrients, water or sunlight. The best way to do this is to till until the soil is smooth. Then add compost, till again to aide in drainage, and add nutrients to the soil. Water the site thoroughly so that any remaining grass seed or weeds will germinate. Pull these by hand or shallowly till the soil once more. Allow the soil to rest for at least thirty days.

After the month of resting, your garden is ready to plant. An easy way to sow the seed, since many are tiny, is to mix your seed with sawdust or sand. A good mix is eight parts sawdust or sand to one part seed. This will help in spreading your seed uniformly over the garden plot. Once you have spread your seed, your next step is to gently press the seed into the ground. You can use your hands or a garden roller for this process. Once that is done, cover the entire plot with a light application of straw. This helps retain moisture for seed germination and prevents erosion.

Fertilizer is generally not needed if you have followed the steps above. Using wildflowers that are native to your region will naturally thrive.

With some wildflower seeds, some pre-treatment is needed, although most will do fine if planted outside in the late fall or early winter. Most dormancy problems will be solved by this method. Other solutions can be cold moist stratification and scarification.

Cold moist stratification can be done by placing the seeds in a freezer bag, adding an equal volume of sand or peat moss. Add water and mix the contents together, making sure there is a bit more water than seed mix. Label the outside of the bag. Check after twenty four hours to make sure the mixture is still moist. At this point, store the seed mix bag in the refrigerator for the length of time recommended on the seed package.

Some seeds, such as Wild Indigos, have a tough, hard coating that prevents water from penetrating. Scarification is the process of weakening the hull to allow for quicker germination.

There are two methods for softening the coating. The first is to place your seeds in hot water and allow them to sit over night. The water should be approximately two hundred degrees.

The second method is to rub your seeds between sheets of medium grit sandpaper. This scratches the surface of the seed coating allowing water to enter.

Since many wildflower seeds are self seeding, very little more work needs to be done. Sit back and relax. Have patience and as spring and summer approach enjoy your wildflower garden.

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