Whether you have a meadow you would like to establish with wildflowers or just want to plant some bee and butterfly friendly flowers in your landscape, NOW is when we plant the seeds that will provide the blooms next spring. Adding native grasses and wildflowers provides food for the birds, nectar and pollen for the pollinators, and can assist butterflies in migration.
Are you ready to get started? If you have existing warm season grasses where you would like to seed wildflowers, mow the grass short and remove thatch, if applicable. The seed need to come into contact with the soil to germinate. Small areas can be raked by hand to a depth of no more than one inch, as excessive tilling will expose dormant weed seeds. The least amount of soil disturbance will result in the least amount of weed seeds exposed.
Larger areas to be seeded should also be mowed, and plowed several times to expose weed seeds and existing seed roots to hot and dry conditions so they will die. You may also choose chemical weed killers or solarization with plastic to rid the area of weeds.
The goal of seeding is to make sure the seed comes in contact with the soil. There are many ways to spread the seed. You can toss it out by hand, use a hand “seeder”, a broadcast or drop spreader or a seed drill for larger areas. I have found it helpful to mix fluffy, light seed with a “carrier” for more even dispersal. Coarse sand, perlite, or rice hulls may be mixed with the seed before sowing to help distribute them evenly.
You may choose to irrigate, or allow nature to determine when the seeds will germinate. If you choose to irrigate, you must continue to irrigate regularly until the plants are established. When the plants are about 1” tall, you may begin to reduce the frequency of irrigation until the spring rains can take over.
Regular weeding of the newly established wildflower area will help cut down competition from invasive weeds. Always allow the flowers to mature and set seed that matures before mowing your new wildflower meadow, which will ensure more flowers in the years to come.