Category Archives: Wildflowers

Planting Wildflowers 2019

This post will be very helpful for “How” we planted our wildflowers to get such a great stand of color. It’s not as difficult as some would have you believe.

Above you see my 2 secret helpers. A motivated child and a garden tractor with a dethatching rake. In 2018, I used a manual garden rake to scratch up the surface of the ares of killed grass. Since I was planting a larger area in 2019, I decided I wanted to try a larger tool, too. So I put my detatching rake behind my mower and made 3-5 passes over each new area to scratch the surface, allowing the possibility of soil to seed contact. Now, it’s time for some seeds

Seeds Harvested in 2018

The seeds harvested from 2018 were simply hand pulled/cut and placed into this paper grocery bag. I learned to store seeds in open paper bags early on to avoid mold/rot forming before the seeds have a chance to dry. These seeds just stayed in my unheated garage in this bag through winter. They dried effectively in the cold, dry air. Now it’s time to separate the seeds from the heads. If you’re saving your own seeds, you don’t have to be fancy here. I find that rubbing them over a wire mesh does a decent job of separating. No need to try to winnow the seeds or really clean them up. All of the petals and chaff are just going to be re-broadcast onto the ground when seeding. Plus, it’s really hard to see where the seeds go if you only have pure seed. I add sand and/or sawdust to my seeds to make it easy to see where I have already planted.

Seeds after initial threshing

Seeds will start to look like this after the initial threshing. I continue to manually work the large seedheads until there are only small pieces that easily pass through the mesh. You might notice that this is a HUGE quantity of seeds compared to what you might buy in a seed packet. Saving your own seeds can be very cost effective.

Once the seeds are mostly separated, I mix with sand and sawdust to make it easy to broadcast. I find it is simplest to just throw this seed mixture by hand, although I have tried other broadcast spreaders, too.

Spreading the seed

After spreading the seed, there is one VERY IMPORTANT step you should not skip. Press the seed into the ground to ensure soil to seed contact! Most of these seeds do not need to be buried, but many require sunlight to germinate. However, they all require soil contact. There are many ways to do this, but I chose to continually drive over the area with my lawn mower. The large turf tires do a great job of pushing the seeds down to the soil. Other methods would be a roller, boards, or similar way to compress the seed down. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!

2018 Wildflowers, part 3

If you haven’t seen how I got started creating my wildflower meadow, be sure to look for posts 1 and 2 from 2018.

August brought a huge amount of color and full growth to these wildflowers. The work is finally starting to pay off! There are some truly stunning colors developing.

The Monarchs are loving all the wildflowers to choose from, especially these red zinnias.
Wildflowers, Milkweed, and existing meadow in background

By the end of August, the Mexican Sunflowers and Cosmos were around 4 feet tall. It’s clear that the Black Eyed Susans are going to thrive in this area, and the Zinnias add a nice splash of color. Most of the small/short flowers are done blooming, and these taller species are taking over to put on quite a show.

Establishing a Wildflower Meadow, Post 2

Here’s the mid summer update with some growth pictures.  If you haven’t seen my first post on how I got started, click here.

By June 17, there were signs of life!  Flowers  had started sprouting, and by the large leaves it is clear that these are flowers and not grass.Wildflowers: Signs of Life!

Wildflowers: Signs of Life!

Now the waiting game…  Fast forward to July 10 & 14.  It’s clear that a good stand of flowers are starting, but there’s very little color at this point:July 10 2018 Wildflowers

It’s clear that there’s a lot of weeds coming up, too.  I’m not sure if these were in the mix, or just existing in my soil.  Either way, they’re there.  I tried pulling some, but ended up damaging a few flower seedlings and realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep  up, so I just gave up.

 

July 14 2018 Wildflowers

Finally, near the end of July, we start to see some real color and growth!I think this method of creating a wildflower meadow may work!

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Establishing a wildflower Meadow

We had an existing grassland meadow behind the house that we wanted to convert to a wildflower meadow.  I’m trying 2 ways to get flowers established.  1 – Mow down the grass, turn the ground over with a shovel, and transplant an existing flower and 2) Kill a large area of grass (approximately 10’x10′) with Roundup and then plant seeds.  In either case, the grass is firmly established and wants to out-compete the flowers, so this will be challenging.

These first couple pictures are June 2016, where I transplanted some seeds I started indoors earlier in the spring.  I cleared small spots with the weedeater, then turned the ground with a shovel, and planted the flowers.  They seemed to take off OK, but not spectacularly.

 

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Clearing and planting small areas
Clearing and planting small areas

Here’s a look at how these returned in 2017.  Some came back, others look like they were annuals and didn’t re-seed.

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The next attempt was in June 2017, where I cleared some areas with roundup:

Areas cleared with roundup for wildflower planting
Areas cleared with roundup for wildflower planting

I let the areas die for about a week, then roughed up the ground a bit with a garden rake.  I then hand broadcast some wildflower seed into these areas.  I used about 1/2 pound of a seed mix.  I think it may have been a bit heavy, but I’m hoping to get a thick flower stand to help it compete with the grasses.  I’ll post more photos of these areas through the summer.