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Fall Seeding Take #2!


So now that we know the best time to plant this fall, I would like to turn our attention to the preparation of an area for fall seeding.  Whether sowing in the fall or spring, the proper preparation is always important in determining success or failure of a wildflower planting.

Better preparation = More Flowers!

For one reason or other, this is the one area that we tend not to put as much time and effort into as we should.  I know the thought of having to fire up the roto-tiller or work the ground with a spade for a few hours doesn’t appeal to most, but it’s the most critical step for success with your planting, both long and short term.

No matter if you’re sowing 5 acres or 5 square feet, the better you prepare the area and get rid of weeds, grasses and other competition, the better results your planting will yield.  I wish I had a nickel for everyone who told me, "I just threw the seed out there in my field" and then are disappointed when they don’t have wildflowers.  You’re not giving the seed a good chance of survival if it has to compete with existing root structures in the soil.  The better you prepare the area enables two very important things to happen:

  • Allows the seed to germinate in soil with very little competition to start.
  • Once your seed begins to germinate, it will be better suited to compete with weeds and grasses that might try to grow back.

Timing is key!

For fall seeding, timing is the key.  We want to plan on working the soil before the ground freezes, but we’re not actually going to seed until the ground is nice and cool.  It may be 2-3 weeks after tilling or preparing the area that you’re actually sowing the seed.  We don’t want the seed to begin germinating before winter!  The seed will just lay dormant through the winter season and begin to germinate once the ground warms next spring.

Don’t cover me please!

Similar to a spring planting, there is no need to cover the seed. However, In some cases, such as if you’re seeding a slope or the area may be exposed to strong winds,  you will want to cover the seed with a light layer of straw.

So you’re well on your way to a successful fall planting!  Follow these steps and you will be bursting with color early next season.

Our "autumn season" is upon us…Embrace the opportunity to enjoy fall gardening…The Seed Man

September 29, 2011 · Mike Lizotte · 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Wildflowers

13 Responses

  1. Maria - September 30, 2011

    Can the seeds still germinate in the fall once there is frost at night?

  2. Dr Jim Nichols - September 30, 2011

    Unfortunately have not had much luck with planting seeds in the fall despite several attempts. Have done well with hosta planting and bulbs,but seeds have been a disaster.

  3. Christina - October 3, 2011

    Hi.

    I have an already established wildflower strip along the edge of my property. Some of the wildflowers are perennials. How do you prep the ground for Fall reseeding when you can no longer till the area?

    Thanks.

  4. Mike Lizotte - October 3, 2011

    Hello Maria,

    Yes seed could still germinate after only a few frosts. It does take a while for the ground temperatures to cool. That’s why it’s important to wait until after numerous frosts before you sow. I hope this answers your question and certainly let me know if I can be of further assistance!

    Happy Gardening!

    The Seed Man

  5. Mike Lizotte - October 3, 2011

    Hello Dr. Jim,

    I’m sorry to hear about your disappointing results from previous fall seedings. If you would like to discuss further feel free to give me a call toll-free at 1-877-309-7333 ext. 12 and I would be more than happy to discuss. It can be tricky sometimes if Mother Nature doesn’t choose to cooperate! Seeds can begin to germinate when it’s not really an ideal time if there’s a warm spell or seeding it done too early.

    I’m glad to hear you’re having success with other fall plantings!

    Happy Gardening!

    The See Man

  6. Mike Lizotte - October 3, 2011

    Hello Christina,

    Great question! You are correct that you want to be careful not to disturb your established perennials. Ideally if you can get in there with a steel rake and rough up small patches and sprinkle more seed, that would work. Ideally you want to make sure you’re getting good seed to soil contact when adding the new seed.

    I hope this information helps and please let me know if I can be of further assistance!

    Happy Gardening!

    The Seed Man

  7. Rachel - October 3, 2011

    Hi Mike,
    I planted the Summer Splash seed mix this summer, and no flowers came up. While I am disappointed, I keep hoping that the flowers will still come up in the spring…is this possible? Thanks!

  8. Minnesota Dan - October 4, 2011

    I over seeded my wild flowers that have done pretty darn good- I waited until after first heavy frost- mowed existing down and ran the aerator through to loosen some soil- but not wipe out the perenial flowers.. now it is unseasonably warm this week- will they be okay as there is no rain – or should I over seed again closer to freezing to be safe?

  9. mid-atlantic pete - October 5, 2011

    You suggest early fall seeding for warmer climates, late fall for colder ones. Any thoughts on what you would define as “warm” versus “cold”, especially in the mid-atlantic where we seem to get the worst of both extremes?

  10. Mike "The Seed Man" Lizotte - October 5, 2011

    Hello Pete,

    I would define “cold” as anywhere where the ground freezes for an extended period of time. This would include the northeast, midwest, mid-atlantic and some western geography.

    I would define “warm” as an area where the ground may not freeze for an extended period of time. This would be the southeast, southwest and warmer coastal areas that the ground stays mild year round.

    If you’re located in the mid-atlantic I would consider you “cold” for fall planting as your ground temperatures get cool enough so that seed will lay dormant through the winter months, mother nature cooperating of course!

    I hope this information helps and please let me know if I can be of further assistance!

    Happy Gardening!

    The Seed Man

  11. Mike Lizotte - October 5, 2011

    Hello Rachel,

    Well that’s certainly a bummer regarding your Summer Splash planting. Keep in mind that all our products are 100% guaranteed with our “Happy Gardener Guarantee” so don’t hesitate to contact us.

    As for your planting, there are perennials in this mix which should begin to flower next season. I would recommend mowing this fall and seeing how things turn out next spring. Hopefully your perennials will fill in just fine. If not let’s plan to discuss in the spring.

    I hope this information helps and thanks again for choosing American Meadows. We appreciate your business!

    The Seed Man

  12. Lisa Silbert - October 7, 2011

    I live in NH, we did logging last winter and this summer we stumped and leveled the ground in an area near our driveway and planted clover and grass. In Sept I bought and spread out 3#s of northeast wildflower seed into the very sparse grass that had come up (Lots of open areas where you can see the dirt still abound) just before a few days of rain. I did that with the hope that the rain would help the seed go into the ground…now I read I should have waited, I am wondering what my chances are of having wildflowers next spring? Do you recommend I reseed again in the spring? When would be the best time to do that. The plan is to cut this area once a year with the rest of our well established field. I was hoping if this really worked out well each year I would add more wildflower seed to our field. Of course the well established part I see will take a bit more work.

  13. Mike Lizotte - October 7, 2011

    Hello Lisa,

    Our Northeast Mix is a nice blend of annuals and perennials. Although you may lose the annuals this season, the perennials should be just fine and begin to flower next spring. If you wanted to add some seed next spring I would suggest adding some annuals once the ground warms.

    I hope this information helps and if I can be of further assistance, let me know!

    Happy Gardening!

    The Seed Man