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Guide to Planting Wildflowers - Seedland.com

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Planting & Cultural Information For Wildflowers

Instructions On How To Plant & Grow Wildflowers

Wildflower Maintenance Summary

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Mixture Formulation Of Wildflower Seed

Our wildflower mixtures are formulated on the basis of climatic conditions (rainfall. temperature range, humidity) and elevation. Most species in our mixtures adapt readily to different soil types provided climate and elevation are suitable Annuals have been included to establish never quickly and to give color the first year: some may produce new plants the following year (the biennials may also reseed). Perennial plants live for more than two years. and most flower from the second year onward.

Seedland's mixtures are blended to give the widest possible range of colors and periods of bloom. Very few wildflowers bloom continually throughout the season: therefore, we have included spring, summer. and tall-blooming species in each mixture. Colors include blue, purple, red, white, yellow and pink. Mix heights vary from 10 inches to 8 feet. See species chart for the height, color and blooming period of each species. In general, our mixtures are formulated to contain approximately equal numbers of seeds of each species.  This varies somewhat because of costs, availability and/or climatic conditions. For example, in the Moist Mixture we have given less seed of species that are particularly aggressive. We strive for a balance of the highest qualify for each geographic area. Mixtures may vary occasionally from the indicated listing, based on availability of individual species.

Wildflower Seed Quality

Most wildflower seeds and mixtures have a purity of 95-99% and total viable seed percentages of between 70-95% The total viable seed percent is the active germination percent, plus the hard seed or dormant seed percent. Hard seeds have impermeable seed coats and cannot imbibe water during seed testing. Dormant seeds are viable seeds that have specific physical or physiological conditions that prevent the seed from germinating at the time of seed testing. The PLS (Pure Live Seed) is obtained by multiplying the percent purify by the percent total viable seed and then dividing by 100.

Selecting a Mix of Wildflower Seeds

Our Regional Mixtures are designed to fit the dread cross-section of conditions that generally exist within any one geographic region (and within any one project), i.e.. variations in sell, slope. drainage, exposure and availability of moisture. For example, we include species for both moist and dry conditions in each mixture, provided that these conditions exist in the particular region. Furthermore, species are included on the basis of their versatility or ability to adapt.

If conditions are relatively consistent or the requirements exacting. one of our Special-Use Mixtures may be appropriate (eg; Dry. Moist, Low Growing, Super-Short or Shade Mix). For instance, on the rough of a golf course whose moisture is controlled, our Moist Mixture may he a better choice than the Regional Mixture indicated for the area. Likewise. our Low-Growing Mixture (less than 16 inches high) and Knee-Hi Mixture (less than 24 inches high), have been designed to meet the demand from urban end suburban landscape architects and contractors for low-growing blends. These mixtures have a “semi-wild” appearance and can be used along roadsides, in parks. and in commercial and residential developments without looking weedy. Neither mixture will need mowing except once in the late fall, if desired. Both mixtures are very versatile and contain species that will flourish in either dry or moist situations.

We offer our regional mixtures in both PREMIUM Mixtures and cost effective VALUE mixtures.

Custom Mixtures Of Wildflowers

In certain cases, a custom blend will be most suitable for your project. We can blend a custom mixture according to your specifications. Such mixtures may he based on color, height climatic conditions, blooming times, or ether considerations. Proportions of species are determined by seed size, aggressiveness and cost. The best mixtures include both annuals and perennials and usually contain 10-20 species. Look though our SPECIAL USE Mixtures and CUSTOM Mixtures for a mixture designed for your particular needs and location. (Note: Custom mixtures only sold in 10 lb. sizes).

Technical Advice

We encourage you to contact us with the specifications of your project, we will he glad to assist you in selecting the mixture best suited to your needs. Our service includes free email consultation on planting times, sell preparation and seeding techniques. If you wish to personally determine or confirm which species of wildflowers are found in your area, we recommend the 11-volume series, Wildflowers of America, by H. W. Hickett and the Nehana / Audubon Society Field Guide for North American Wildflowers (Eastern or Western Region). These books picture many wildflowers in color and are available in libraries and/or book stores throughout the United States.

Site Selection

Sowing wildflower seeds without care and planning usually produces unsatisfactory results. Here are some important factors to consider:

Planting Rates For Wildflowers

Each wildflower mixture in this catalog has a recommended minimum and maximum planting rate. Minimum planting rates are based en 60-70 seeds per square feet (4 to 12 pounds per acre), which is usually sufficient to establish a good stand at wildflowers on prepared soil when adequate weed control can be maintained. Maximum planting rates are based on 120-140 seeds per square foot (8 to 24 pounds per acre). and are recommended when adequate soil preparation and weed control are not possible, or when maximum color is required Avoid using more than the recommended rates since poor perennial establishment may result.

When to Plant Wildflower Seed

The best time to plant in your area depends on the climate arid rainfall patterns, as well as the species you are planting. In cool climates plant annuals, perennials or mixtures of annuals and perennials in spring, early summer or late fall. Fall plantings should be late enough so that seeds do not germinate until spring. Perennials can also be sewn in early fall provided that there are at least 10-12 weeks of growing time before the plants go dormant for the winter. Late fall plantings are advantageous when supplemental irrigation cannot be provided and adequate rainfall is anticipated in the spring. In mild climates, plant during the cooler months of the year, fall through spring, for best results. Fall plantings done prior to periods of rainfall will insure an early display of flowers the following spring

Use of Grasses With Wildflowers

Wildflowers are at their best sown alone, but they also can be planted with grasses for most areas of the United States, we recommend using one of our native grass mixtures. For specific requirements, individual species may he preferred. Hard Fescue or Sheep Fescue work well in most areas of the United States. However in the southeastern states of Alabama Florida. Georgia. Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. we recommend warm-season grasses; Hard and Sheep Fescue will not thrive in these climates. Follow the recommended planting rates for grasses. A higher planting rate for grasses is recommended when planting grasses alone; while a lower planting rate is recommended if including wildflowers.

Warm-season grasses to consider include the Grammas, Buffalo Grass and Bluestems. These grasses grow very slowly and are planted for aesthetic and ecological reasons rather than prompt stabilization of soil. Aggressive grasses should be avoided because they will crowd out most wildflowers. These aggressive grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Smooth Brome, Crested Wheatgrass, Bermuda Grass and Annual Rye. If wildflowers must be used with these grasses, the flowers should be planted in high-density patches as accents to the grassed areas. Or the flowers may be sewn with the grasses if the planting rates of the grasses are reduced significantly. Keep in mind that over time grasses will tend to replace much of the wildflowers present on your site.

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INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO PLANT WILDFLOWERS

Site Preparation

Proper site preparation is important for prompt germination of seed and healthy growth of seedlings. Best results will be obtained by planting on cleared ground. Remove existing vegetation to avoid competition from other plants. This may be done by pulling, tilling under, spraying with a general herbicide, or by a combination of these methods, depending upon the size of the area, type and density of vegetation and other factors. Loosen soil by scraping, tilling or scarifying.  Tilling should be used utilized only when soil is very compacted and further weed control measures can be taken. Specific recommendations are given under the heading "Weed Control".


Seed Application

Method of application depends on the size of the area and the terrain. On small areas, broadcast seeds evenly ether by hand or by use of a drop or cyclone spreader. It a helpful to mix a carrier such as clean, dry sand with the seed; sand adds volume and aids in even distribution of your seeds. We recommend using a ratio of 1 or 2 parts sand to 1 part seed. Rake in lightly covering seeds to a maximum depth of 2-3 times their thickness. Or drag the area lightly with a piece of chain link fence to mix the seed into the surface of the soil. For seeding large areas over one acre, specially designed seed drills are most effective. Drill to a maximum of 1/4 inch and firm soil with a culti-packer; this maximizes seed/soil contact.

Hydroseeding Wildflowers

Hydroseeders are also effective, especially for steep slopes, rocky terrain and other areas where conditions make it impractical for walking or driving equipment. Hydroseeding is the application of a slurry of seed and water to soil. The slurry may also contain mulch (hydromulching), a tackifier and fertilizer. Mulches are made of wood fiber, paper or excelsior, and their purpose is to hold seeds in place, help retain moisture and provide protection from erosion; mulches are usually dyed green as a visual aid in even distribution. Rates of application for most mulches are between 1500 and 2300 pounds per acre. In general, hydroseeding / hydro-mulching is most successful in moist climates or in irrigated areas. Most authorities agree that germination is better when seeds are applied first with 5 to 10% of the mulching fiber -- the balance at the mulch being applied separately as a second step. This approach ensures optimal seed/soil contact, otherwise, many seeds are wasted because they became suspended in the mulch fiber and do not germinate well in this location. It is important that proper procedures are followed to minimize the amount of time that seeds are circulated through pumps or paddles prior to application. Over-circulation may damage the seeds.

Moisture

All seeds, including wildflowers, need ample moisture to germinate and to develop into healthy seedlings. Best results will be obtained by soaking the planted areas thoroughly and maintaining consistent moisture for 4 to 6 weeks -- then gradually reducing watering In non-irrigated situations, plant in the spring or before periods at anticipated rainfall. After seedlings are established, watering may he reduced depending on the climate and rainfall. In arid climates or during drought conditions, up to 1/2 inch of supplemental water per week may be required to maintain an optimal display. If weeds are present, remember that they benefit from moisture as much as the wildflowers and may dominate over watered areas.

Fertilization

Many wildflowers benefit from some fertilization if the soil does not have adequate nutrients. Some wildflowers do fine in poor soils while others require a more fertile environment. We recommend that a soil test be performed when soil quality is unknown. If the soil needs improvement, use a low nitrogen fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio or add organic matter such as weed-free straw or grass clippings, well rotted compost, peat moss, or leaf mold. In addition to adding nutrients, organic materials enhance the soil structure and encourage beneficial microorganisms. Avoid over-fertilizing which may promote weed growth and lush foliage rather than flowers.

Weed Control

Weed control is the biggest problem facing plant establishment and one which has no easy solution. Weed seeds are present in many situations and lie dormant, but viable for long periods. A weedy area converted to wildflowers will have a large reservoir of weed seeds in the soil ready to germinate when conditions are favorable. In most cases it is advisable to consider weed control in two phases—as part of site preparation prior to planting, and as an important component of the post germination maintenance program.

Before planting, remove existing weeds by pulling, tilling under, applying a glyphosate herbicide such as Roundup®. or by a combination of these methods. For additional weed control after site preparation, a soil fumigant may he used, or the area may do irrigated to encourage weed growth and then sprayed with a general herbicide. In very weedy areas the following method is suggested: (1) Till soil or spray vegetation with Roundup®. When using a herbicide, allow vegetation to die, then rake out the dead debris. If perennial weeds such as bindweed are present using an herbicide is more effective than tilling. (2) Irrigate to encourage germination of weed seeds near the surface; most seeds will germinate within two weeks if consistent moisture a available.  Do not till the soil again because this will bring even more weed seeds up to the surface, where they may germinate. (3) Spray any new growth with Roundup®*. (4) After raking out dead vegetation, allow soil to recover for 3 to 4 weeks before planting seed. From our experience, a recovery period at this duration a advisable because extensive use of glyphosate herbicides may cause a delay in germination and in the vigorous growth of new wildflower seedlings.

Once the seeds have germinated, further weed control is usually necessary. If practical, pull all weeds as soon as they can do identified. Other successful techniques are spot spraying with a general herbicide or selectively cutting weeds with a string trimmer.  Be sure to remove weeds before they reseed.
Many unwanted annual and some perennial grasses can be controlled with the herbicides such as Grass-B-Gone®*, Ornamec®tm and Fusilade®* if registered for use in your state. These post-emergent chemicals do not affect broad-leaved plants so they can he applied over existing flowers; they are most effective when sprayed on new growth and young plants. Take care to avoid treating areas with desirable native grasses or fescues.
*Observe all precautions and follow manufacturers recommendations for applications of chemicals. Consult with your local cooperative extension agent concerning chemicals legal for use in your area and restrictions that must be observed.

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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PLANTING WILDFLOWERS

Wildflowers can provide an excellent, low cost alternative in large-scale, high main­tenance situations, as well as a satisfying change from traditional urban landscaping. However, during their initial establishment period, wildflowers require as much maintenance as traditional plantings. A smooth, weed and vegetation-free planting bed is important for good seed-soil contact and prompt germination. Avoid seeding more than the recommended rate since overseeding can result in crowded conditions the first year and poor establishment of perennials. Cover seeds lightly to protect them from drying out during germination, and to prevent them from being eaten by birds. Consistent moisture is important for 4 - 6 weeks after planting. A wildflower planting requires the same weed control measures as traditional land­scaping. Effective measures include site preparation prior to planting and a post- germination maintenance program. Most of our wildflower mixes contain annual, biennial and perennial species. The annuals, which may not be native to your area, are included to assure maximum color during the first season and to act as a nurse crop for the slower-growing perennials. Annuals germinate quickly when conditions are favorable, providing a quick ground cover and competition against weeds. Annuals may come back to a limited degree the second year but generally will not be as dense as first year plantings. Natural reseeding of annuals ranges from significant to minimal, depending on the species, cli­mate, soil texture and other factors.

Most perennial and biennial species begin to bloom the second season, but not as profusely as annuals. Therefore, wildflower plantings will look noticeably different after the first year. Perennials do not normally bloom the first year. Sometimes it is desirable or even necessary to sow seed in second and subsequent years. Reseeding may be necessary if establishment of wildflowers is spotty or poor. It is possible to reseed bare areas with the original mixture. Loosen soil of bare areas and provide adequate weed control and supplemental irrigation as needed. Where natural reseeding of annuals is minimal, sowing annuals each spring can produce a magnificent annual and perennial display throughout the growing season. If desired, wildflowers may be mowed in the fall following seed set. Mow to a height of 4-6 inches, and leave the residue on the ground because it is a reservoir of viable seeds.

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MAINTENANCE SUMMARY:

Maintenance is an essential ingredient in the creation of a successful wildflower planting. The key to an effective, long-term wildflower maintenance program is evaluation and timely follow-up. The site should be evaluated periodically during the growing season to determine if expectations are being met. Some conditions must be dealt with promptly while others may be corrected at a later time. Here are five areas of maintenance that require consideration:

RESEEDING

Many people prefer the vibrant, long lasting colors that are provided by annuals. In most parts of North America, there is just one way to create annual color year after year -- by reseeding each year. Exceptions are the Pacific Coast and the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, where annuals readily reseed on their own. Annuals can be reseeded in the spring or fall. Spring reseeding should be completed as soon as the ground is workable to take advantage of spring moisture. Remember that the planted area must be kept consistently moist for four to six weeks to ensure good germination. In cold climates, fall seeding should be quite late so germination does not occur until the following spring. In mild climates, planting annuals in the fall will ensure an early display in the spring. Important: follow our recommendations for appropriate planting rates because reseeding too heavily may cause crowding and poor growth.

If emphasizing perennials is your goal, inspect the planted area and roughly note the number and kinds of perennials growing there. Bare areas, if any, can be overseeded with the original planting mix or with a custom mix. Establishing a solid cover of perennials is one of the best ways to control weeds. When reseeding, some scarification of the soil surface may be necessary to ensure good seed-soil contact. A mixture of spring, summer, and fall-blooming perennial wildflowers will produce a changing display of color throughout the growing season.

WEED CONTROL In Wildflower Gardens

A monthly program of weed control is essential to ensure a satisfactory display of wildflowers year after year. Weeds should be eliminated as soon as they can be recognized, either by pulling, spot-spraying with a general herbicide, or selective cutting with a string trimmer.

SUPPLEMENTAL WATER

Water is a critical factor in wildflower maintenance. During the hot summer season, up to one-half inch of moisture per week may be required to keep wildflowers at their peak.

FERTILIZATION

Fertilization may be beneficial in a long-term maintenance program, particularly if the soil is sandy or very poor in nutrients. If there is a reason to suspect a problem with soil fertility, we recommend a soil test and/or plant tissue analysis. These tests will enable you to determine which specific fertilizer may be appropriate for your needs.

FALL MOWING AND CLEANUP

If a neat appearance is desired after the wildflowers have gone to seed, mow them to a height of four to six inches. To prepare the area for fall seeding, it may be necessary to remove any excessive plant material or mulch that could prevent good seed-soil contact. We cannot stress too strongly the importance of a regular wildflower maintenance program, which will be dictated by the specific goals of the project. You will be rewarded with a wildflower planting that meets or exceeds expectations and provides a beautiful display year after year.


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