Wild Flower Planting and Maintenance Tips
Rid the area to be planted with wild flowers of weedy vegetation by:
Smothering the area with black plastic, plywood or a thick layer of leaves for about two months.
Using herbicides (consult local specialists for herbicide recommendations).
A combination of the above.
Since most wildflower seeds go into a dormancy stage, the may need special treatment to germinate. Some seeds need to be stratified (go through a cold spell). To simulate this at home:
Mix one part seed with 10 or more parts moist sand and peat moss in a sealed plastic bag.
Store in the refrigerator just above freezing for the required time period (if stated) or 2 weeks to 3 months.
Some seeds which have hard seedcoats must be scarified. Rub the seeds gently between sandpaper to break the seedcoat or soak the seeds in hot water. Plant immediately. (See individual packages for treatment required.)
Starting Seeds Indoors:
Pretreated seeds may be started indoors during the winter. Use a sterilized, porous soil mixture with sand or vermiculite to prevent damping off of the seedlings. Sow seeds shallowly, as many seeds need light to germinate. Transplant outdoors in spring or late summer.
Seed in the late spring to early summer or late fall before freeze-up. Do not pretreat seeds for fall planting. Mix wild flower seed with a lightly dampened carrier such as saw dust, peat moss or vermiculite. Broadcast the mixture over the planting area. Rake and lightly pack the soil covering the seeds with 0.25 inch of soil. While not required, adding mulch may be especially beneficial on sandy or heavy clay soils.
To contain wildflowers that spread by root and can be invasive (as stated on seed packages) install a 6 inch plastic or metal strip below ground to surface level around the seeded area.
Late spring/early summer and fall seedlings benefit from regular watering. Water just enough to keep the soil moist for the first 4 to 6 weeks. Watering after 6 weeks in not necessary unless there is a long dry spell.
Controlling weeds in the first year is important for growing wildflowers successfully. Being mostly perennials, wildflowers establish root systems the first year and will likely not grow taller than 6 inches. Weeds can be controlled by keeping them mowed back to 4-6 inches. Pulling weeds is not recommended in the first year as the seedlings are small and can be uprooted.
Once the site is established, little maintenance is required. In the second and subsequent years the site should be mowed in spring and the cuttings raked off. Do not mow after the new plant growth has reached a foot or taller. Fertilization is not recommended for it increases foliage at the expense of the blooms.