Whether you want to give back to nature or you are looking for an easy way to add color to your yard, wildflowers should be on your radar. Planting a patch of wildflowers can help take care of those bare or boring spots in your yard, they require much less water and maintenance, and they help local pollinators. Win, win, win.
Planting instructions specific to your flower variety will be included on the seed packet, but here’s a brief run down to help you prepare.
Step 1: Choose an area that receives 4 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Step 2: Clear the soil of all existing growth.
Step 3: Scratch up the surface of the soil to make a place for the seeds to nest into.
Step 4: Spread seeds and cover with a thin layer of soil or mulch (⅛ inch).
Step 5: After planting, make sure the area gets well watered either by rain or gently by hand.
Sit back and enjoy. After that, wildflowers pretty much take care of themselves.
The ideal time to plant wildflowers is in the late fall or early spring. For fall, plant several weeks after the first frost. The seeds will germinate in spring when temperatures rise. For spring, plant seeds 4 weeks before the last hard frost. Wildflowers can be planted successfully throughout the year in more temperate climate zones.
Wildflowers’ self-sustaining nature makes them a great fit for areas of your yard where your grass might struggle. Whether it’s the back strip where the soil isn’t as good or the edge that the sprinkler misses, wildflowers can usually make it work.
Since wildflowers need sun, avoid planting in tree shade. South-facing yards receive the most amount of sun, while North-facing receives the least.
Many annual wildflowers will reseed themselves each year. Some wildflowers are perennial meaning they go dormant in winter and return in spring, just like your grass. To prevent wildflowers from taking over, plant at least two feet away from established plants.
To discover wildflowers native to your home, check out our friends at Xerces Society’s regional wildflower planting lists. Growing native flowers will ensure you are getting the best plant for your soil, climate, and local pollinators. (Sunday offers free region-specific wildflower blends with smart lawn plans).
You can find wildflower seed packets at your local gardening or hardware store. Be sure to read the sunlight, water, and planting depth and spacing requirements listed on each seed packet to help you pick the best types of wildflowers for your little plot of land.
Wildflowers will need little to no maintenance after they start growing in. They are drought tolerant and usually don’t require any fertilizer. They are “wild” after all. In most areas, Spring showers will bring enough precipitation for seeds to sprout. If planting after the spring rains, supplemental water may be needed depending on your local climate. After that, wildflowers may need to be watered during long dry spells. You can consider adding compost to your wildflower patch in the spring, but many wildflowers will do just fine with no maintenance whatsoever.
As if saving pollinators wasn’t enough, wildflowers are practically the best multipurpose yard-fixers. Here’s a short list of their can-do qualities: