Wildflowers

Though wildflowers start to bloom in the spring, the process of growing wildflowers begins in the fall.

Fields of blooming wildflowers bring to mind thoughts of springtime and sunshine; however, the process of growing wildflowers begins now. In order to create a flowing backyard meadow, fall is the time to begin the planting process.

According to Alabama Extension home grounds agent Dani Carroll, the wilderness of the backyard can best preserve local flowers while encouraging wildlife to visit the garden.

“For less lawn-mowing maintenance and more wildlife watching, growing a backyard meadow is the perfect deal,” Carroll said.

Not to mention, they’re a beautiful addition to any backyard space.

Purchasing seeds

The first important step when purchasing wildflower seed is to survey the planting area conditions. Choosing seeds that will grow best in specific conditions is essential. Gardeners can ask a wildflower seed supplier which mixes would be best for specific areas and soil types. For assistance from a supplier, gardeners can consult Xerces — a resource for seed supplier information in the Southeast.

In addition to choosing seeds that will thrive best in a given area, try picking a varied seed mix.

“Try to choose a mix with annuals, perennials and grasses for different bloom times, shapes and more diversity,” Carroll said.

Planting a medley of wildflower varieties will provide a more natural, wild meadow-like atmosphere.

Growing your meadow

After selecting seed, it is time to prepare the garden.

“One of the biggest challenges of starting a wildflower meadow is area preparation,” Carroll said. “It is crucial to remove existing vegetation from the soil.”

There are several options to remove surface vegetation: manual removal, sterilization with clear plastic and even composting on top of the soil. In addition, if a proper herbicide is chosen, Carroll said that may also be a good removal solution.

After removing all existing vegetation, it is time to begin sowing seeds. Carroll said fall temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for sowing the wildflower seeds. This allows perennials to become established for an early spring bloom.

To plant the seed, rake the area lightly to create a proficient seed to soil contact. Also, try mixing the seeds with damp sand or a similar source to help spread the seeds evenly over large areas.

Finally, to prevent the seeds from washing away, cover them with a layer of light straw.

In addition to natural beauty, there are many other benefits to planting a wildflower meadow.

Carroll offers the following added benefits:

• Borders of wildflowers near vegetable gardens are ideal for attracting pollinators like butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds;

• Native perennials and reseeding annuals enhance gardens with blooms, as well as having few pest and disease problems;

• Wildflower perennials will brighten a flower border with striking beauty;

• Planting colorful varieties of flowers in wooden barrels and clay pots near seating areas creates a pleasing conversation spot; and

• Easily maintained wildflowers can instantly make roadsides more welcoming.

Whether you are looking to spice up the garden or brighten a dull area, wildflowers are the perfect flowers to start sowing this fall. For more help or to ask questions, visit www.aces.edu or call 256-232-5510.

 — Posted by Mary Leigh Oliver.

Trending Video

Recommended for you