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Planting Guide: Step 1
The Plan: Where to Start and How Much
Good planning almost always means good results. Here are some things you should consider.
How large is the area and how much seed do you need? In the southern states, 1 lb. will cover about 2000 sq. ft. but in the other regions 1 lb. will cover about 3-4000 sq. ft. There is increased competition in the south with more moisture and more weeds (undesirable wildflowers, if you will). Therefore, the recommended rate for large area is 2X or double. Southern rate=15-20 lb. per acre All other regions 10-15 lb. per acre.
What is the exposure? Is it full sun, or partly shaded. Dark shade (no direct light whatsoever) is not recommended for seeding wildflowers (there are however a few varieties that will do well). If the area has less than 6 hours of full sun or is dappled light, you will want to consider using a shade tolerant mixture or shade-loving species.
Wildflowers are an investment in beauty, natural heritage, wildlife of all kinds, and color. Wildflowers that are native (originally found in an area) are EXPENSIVE, but the results are beautiful, natural, and long-lasting. Less expensive mixtures of seeds can certainly be found but the amount of native seed in those is quite small. The cheaper wildflowers are showy and colorful but they are not as able to naturalize and grow on in an area, on their own, as most of our native plants here in the eastern (of the rockies) United States. In Arkansas we have many wonderful native seeds but they are in short supply and are expensive to include in mixtures BUT WE DO! So there’s the long and short of it. Be prepared to spend on seed$480-$800/acre, or $59-$69 per lb. on 1-10 lb. quantities.
Planting Guide: Step 2
The Prep: Time Spent in Preparation Will Pay Off in Flowers
The objective is to remove as much unwanted vegetation as possible. We rely heavily on Round-up herbicide and post-emergent grass-killer, such as “Poast” or “Ornamec” or any GRASS-SPECIFIC herbicide. “Round-up” will kill any green plant that is actively growing, so we often start out with Round-up to kill existing weed or grass growth. If you just want to kill grass, use a post-emergent grass-killer. If you do not want to use herbicides, we recommend the “hot-house” method of covering the soil with clear plastic for the entire growing season. This allows the weed seeds to germinate and the heat generated under the plastic will burn up the seedlings. For best results we recommend this method for smaller areas. and that the edges of the plastic be secured to the ground for maximum heat build up.
When your area is brown and dry rake off any thick vegetation left and till the soil lightly. Deep plowing will bring up more weed seeds. Some areas are able to be hand raked to smooth clods. We have found a renovator useful in going over lareas rather than tilling the soil. All that is required is a surface of half-way decent soil. A few rocks won’t be a problem but if there are more rocks than soil, you’ll need to bring in some topsoil or, better yet, compost. If your area has grown weeds and/or grass successfully it is good enough for wildflowers.
Now you FINALLY have your soil prepared!
Planting Guide: Step 3
The Prep: Putting the Seed in the Soil
Now comes the fun part!!!! But you don’t want to use up your seeds before you run out of space. So we suggest getting some slightly moist sand or vermiculite and mixing the seed in about a 5 to 1 ratio of sand to seed. Just take a bucket and mix in your sand and seed, squish your hands in it and mix well. This also helps you to see where you have seeded. Hand broadcast sand/seed or put mixture in a hand or push seeder.After you have seeded the area.
You want to press seed into soil lightly which is done naturally as you lightly mulch over the area with wheat or pine straw (seedless as poss) in a light layer so you can still see the soil but coverage is over entire surface. Other mulches cover the seeds and can prevent light from getting to seeds. Covering the seeds with soil (or heavy mulch) is the main reason for poor germination.
Now, water thoroughly and pray for good rain over the next few weeks to help seedlings establish. If you can irrigate, one inch per week is adequate. Fall or winter planting is recommended if you do not have irrigation available.
Planting Guide: Step 4
Patience: Don’t Judge Your Success Too Soon
When do wildflower seeds germinate? When the conditions are right. Period. Many wildflowers germinate in cool temperatures, (another plus for fall planting), others in hot summer temperatures. Therefore if you’ve planted a mixture, you’ll have seeds germinating at their preferred soil temperature over a long period of time as the soil temperature goes from cooler to warmer temperatures.
Many perennial (ones that come back each year from the root) wildflowers do not bloom the first year from seed. So if your mixture has both annuals (ones that flower and produce seed then die) and perennials you will see some new flowers the second year. Holland Wildflower Farm seed mixtures are usually a special combination of annuals, biennials(also bloom second year), and perennials. The second year will bring new blooms and a more established wildflower plot. Yes, Yes, patience, I said PATIENCE.
Planting Guide: Results
The Powerful Impact of Wildflowers
Wildflowers are wonderful for large open areas or in smaller pockets where low-mainenance color is desired. Consider wildflowers in ditches, property edges, along drives, and if you love the look of wildflowers consider using our individual varieties in your flower beds where you can design lovely swathes of color to suit your site and your purposes. Want cut flowers, flowers that attract butterflies and birds, or something you don’t have to replant every year? We can help you choose just the right wildflowers for your project.
Need help? Call us at 479-283-6709. At Holland Wildflower Farm, we’re here to help you plant your dream!