- Michele Spence
How-To-Guide For Planting your Wildflower Mix for the Southeast
First, thank you very much for caring about wildlife. The flower seeds that you purchased will help our pollinators thrive.
Here are the directions for planting your Wildflower Seed Mix for the Southeast-
Choose Your Season:
It is a pleasant surprise for many gardeners to learn that Flower & Wildflower seed can be successfully installed at various times throughout the growing season. Though spring is the most common and conventional time of the year to sow flower seed; successful results can also be achieved by planting in summer and fall as well. This seasonal versatility is a great advantage to the flower & wildflower gardener and brings many diverse benefits and possibilities.
Spring Planting: For most temperate regions of the United States, spring planting is best carried out within a month or so after the final frost of the winter season. The exact date will naturally vary based on your region and the severity of the winter season. The important thing is to not ‘jump the gun” and plant too early; if seeds are installed prior to a late-season frost, they will be lost for the season and will need to be re-seeded.
Summer Planting: Summer planting is advisable for cooler areas where temperatures don’t hover at 80 degrees or more for long periods of time.
Fall Planting: Though it may seem unusual to plant flower seeds in fall, it is actually the preferred time of year for many seasoned wildflower gardeners. The main benefit: a jump-start in bloom the following spring! However, if you do decide to plant your seeds in the fall, the trick is to do so after the first killing frost of the season.
Choose Your Site:
The general rule of thumb when considering the optimum planting site on your property is “the more sun the better”. This naturally means that areas with little or no tree coverage and as little obstruction from any structure such as a house, garage, or barn are best.
Soil too is sometimes a consideration when planting flowers, but it’s important to keep in mind that wildflowers will generally sprout in all but the most difficult conditions. This means that pampering your site with fertilizer or rich sod is not usually necessary. In fact, doing so can sometimes achieve the opposite result by inviting unwanted weeds and grasses. Only in the poorest of conditions, where the soil is literally sterile, is using an accelerant advisable.
Lastly, when choosing the best site for your seed installation, the availability of a steady watering source is helpful, but not usually necessary. In most regions and during most seasons, natural rainfall will be sufficient to provide the water necessary for a successful bloom. However, if you live in a particularly arid region, are planting during drier months, or are simply experiencing prolonged drought, it will definitely be to your advantage to water your site every other day or so for the first few weeks after planting until root growth is established.
Clear Existing Growth & Loosen the Soil:
This is an absolutely vital step in the installation of any successful wildflower seed project. Though it may sound tempting to randomly cast your seeds into thin air and hope they will sprout, it is simply a waste of time and money to do so on a site that has not been properly prepared for planting. Though wildflower seeds are tenacious by nature - and a few might even persevere under the most inhospitable of circumstances - they, like all seeds, will perform best when rid of noxious weeds and grasses.
There are several ways to effectively remove existing growth and cultivate your soil, and the size of the site will typically be the deciding factor in which method is ultimately chosen. For smaller sites, a rake, hoe, or shovel is often sufficient to do the trick of removing unwanted grass, weeds, etc., while for larger sites, a roto-tiller is often the preferred method.
The two methods that are most advisable for the home-owner are 1) the old fashioned hand-broadcast method (for smaller jobs), and 2) the use of a rotary or “cyclone” seeder (for larger jobs). The former involves simply scattering the seed evenly over the site by hand, while the latter accomplishes the same results through the use a hand-cranked spreader that can be purchased relatively cheaply at any garden center. If seeding an area of several acres or more, hydro-seeding is our recommended method, and we invite you to contact us for information if your plans to call for such a sizable project.
Regardless of which sowing method you choose, we strongly recommend mixing your seed with regular “sand box” sand at a ratio of about 5 parts (sand) to 1 part (seed). This allows for a more even distribution and also provides a convenient way to mark which portions of the site have been seeded and which have not. This is not a required method for a successful planting, but most will find it a simple, affordable, and practical step.
After sowing, we recommend that you lightly compress your seeds into the soil – no more than a ½ inch - so as to protect them from birds, wind disbursement, etc. The key here is to compress them, but not bury them. If the site is of a manageable size, you can accomplish this by simply walking over the portion that’s just been seeded, or if it’s a larger area, you might want to use a standard seed roller; often used when planting grass seed.