The Best Technique For Growing Wildflowers From Seed

Planting wildflowers is an excellent and economical way to turn an underused part of the landscape into a lush, vibrant flower patch. Wildflower mixes are widely available at nurseries, home and garden stores, and online, so planting the seeds seems like a no-brainer. But how do you give those seeds the best chance to germinate and become established before the weeds encroach on the space and start competing for sunlight and nutrients?

The best technique for planting the wildflower seeds is to mix the seeds with sand in a 1:8 ratio before you scatter them. The sand helps distribute the seeds and shows you where they have landed. Next, spread the seed mix once walking from one end of the lawn to the other, and broadcast again coming back. Finally, use a sod roller to press the seeds into the soil, but don't cover them — sunlight helps wildflower seeds germinate. Once planted, irrigate the seeds by misting  to avoid washing the seeds away. Also, tarp them before heavy rains barrel through your area (you only need to do this until the plants are semi-mature). Now, these are just the best practices, but there's still a lot of work to do before the seeds are ready to be planted. Below, we'll show you how to plan and prepare your wildflower garden site properly to give the seeds their best chance of success.

Decisions to make before seeding wildflowers in your yard

Before you plant, you must choose an appropriate site, determine how much seed you'll need, and decide when to plant. When selecting a location, avoid those with poor drainage, like parts of the yard where standing water accumulates after rain. Slopes are a good option, since their grade ensures water runoff. Most wildflowers love sun, so it's best to find a location that stays sunny for a portion of the day. Now, the seed mix should specify whether full sun is required, or if the plants need a shady break after several hours. If you have a location in mind, consider how much sun it gets, and choose the seed mix accordingly.

When buying the seed mix, pay attention to the seed coverage rate. Knowing how this number corresponds to the dimensions of your planting location helps you buy and plant the correct amount of seeds. For example, if the mix coverage rate is 1 pound per 1,000 square feet, and the designated spot measures 30 by 50 feet, you'll need at least 1.5 pounds of the mix. If the coverage rates are shown as ranges, stick to the low end for an unobtrusive, natural-looking lawn, or the high end for a more opulent aesthetic. If you're planting perennials, spring is a great time to plant once the frosts are gone. Summer is suitable for annuals, but the seedlings may need frequent irrigation to weather the heat. Fall planting also works, especially for long-lived perennial mixes.

How to prepare the soil before seeding wildflowers

With planning out of the way, you have to prep the soil to ensure the planting is successful. For starters, make sure that the location is weed-free, since any weeds will outcompete the wildflower seedlings. How you get rid of the weeds depends on the size of the area. If the area is large, you can rototill it — this will quickly pull weeds out and loosen the soil in the process (loose soil aids the seedlings' root development). This technique will leave the pulled-out weeds laying around, so you will need to rake them after. Alternatively, if you have one, use a sod cutter to remove the weeds along with their roots quickly and neatly. You'll still need to loosen the soil a bit after employing this weeding technique.

It's possible that you already have a wildflower garden and only want to seed parts of it. In this case, you still need to prepare the soil, but the weeding methods would be more suitable for smaller areas. Identify the problem areas, then use hand tools like a hoe, a shovel, or even a simple DIY wire weeder to extract the weeds from the soil. The process is labor-intensive, but it shouldn't take you long if the area is small enough. Regardless of the weeding technique, it's a good idea to plant the wildflower seeds quickly after weeding. Doing so will deny weeds the chance to return before the seedlings are established.