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Fall is for Wildflowers!

With warm days and cooling nights, fall presents the perfect time to plant Wildflowers.  Fall planting mimics the natural life cycle when flowers begin to fade, produce and drop seed.  Fall planting can allow for earlier blooms the following spring, which is appealing to anyone that lives in a region with short summers and long winters! 

It’s important to understand the best planting times depending on where you live, so below I’ve share some helpful tips for a successful fall wildflower planting.

Wildflowers

Fall planting in colder climates:

The preparation of the area would be the same as if you’re planting in spring.  Clearing the area best possible and getting rid of existing growth to expose bare soil to broadcast your seed on to.  Always keep in mind that the better you prepare the area, the better results your planting will yield.

After properly prepping the area, the next step is waiting for the ground temperatures to cool enough so that when you’re ready to sow, the seed will not begin to germinate.  So how do you know this?  You could purchase a soil thermometer, like the one we sell here.  Ideally, you want your ground temperatures to be consistently below 50 degrees.  Another indicator is that when your grass stops growing or has slowed, that’s usually a good sign that your ground temperature is cold enough to begin sowing.

Once you’ve sown your seed on the cold ground you’re all set.  Your seed will lay dormant through the winter months and begin to germinate once the ground warms the following spring.  There’s no need to cover but if the area is exposed to high winds, you could cover with some straw.  What about all the birds that may eat some seed?  Let them feast all they want.  There are 300,000 seeds on average in one pound of our mixtures, so they can eat a few without worry.
 

Fall planting in warmer climates:

Fall plantings have become more and more popular in warmer climates for a number of reasons.  Quick, longer bloom times and less watering are just a few advantages of sowing in fall versus spring.

As I mentioned previously, the preparation of the area will be the same regardless of spring or fall planting.  Once the area has been prepared, you’re ready to sow.  In warmer climates, you don’t have to be as concerned about colder ground temperatures, but more importantly that the seeds will get the proper amount of moisture for germination. Zinnia Ideally, if you can plan your planting around the “rainy season,” this weather condition will provide the optimal environment for quick germination and your planting will be well on its way.  This means less watering for you as well!  You can plan on enjoying your Wildflowers throughout your winter and spring months, with reseeding taking place during the warm summer months.  If you want to prolong your blooms, you could also plan on a second planting come spring, but keep in mind that it may take much more watering. If you live where there is a chance of water restrictions, make sure you’re aware of this.

So as you can see, fall presents the perfect time to plant Wildflowers.  Whether you’re in Maine or Montana, North Carolina or Washington, you can add fall color to any landscape and spend your spring enjoying more color from your Wildflowers!

Happy Gardening! – Mike “The Seed Man”

August 1, 2013 · Mike Lizotte · 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Gardening in Fall, How-Tos, Wildflowers

2 Responses

  1. Susan Narigon - August 4, 2013

    I have a question with regard to my newer wildflower area. In its first year, it is crazy with weeds, ones that were likely dormant until the neighbor tilled it and then sowed grass seed which I then killed with Roundup. (I had given permission for my neighbor to uproot three large trees and then tile in the area. I did not, however, give him permission to till and plant it with grass seed. My dad thinks that the weeds are a result of that process. Do I simply mow the area this fall and then sow a whole lot of additional seed? My daughter reminded me that my older area, now three years old, was really weedy the first year. What do you advise?

  2. Mike Lizotte - August 5, 2013

    Hello Susan,

    Thanks for your question! I would agree with your daughter’s statement about the grasses being from the disturbance of the area from the tilling. It’s not uncommon that when an area is disturbed with a tiller, it can bring dormant grass and weed seed up which can cause problems. Ideally you only want to till down a few inches, getting rid of the surface growth but not bringing up too much soil below. If you really want to get ahead, I might suggest a shallow till again next spring and planting at that time. If you are to just mow and sow, your grass is going to continue to get the upper hand. I hope this information helps and please let me know if I can be of further assistance!

    Happy Gardening!
    Mike “The Seed Man”