Wildflower Gardening
This is my site Written by Geoff on May 1, 1998 – 5:43 pm

Wildflower Gardening has, in recent years, enjoyed an increase in popularity as gardeners have discovered just how versatile our native plants can be. Wildflowers are not only finding their way into the traditional garden but, are being used increasingly as a replacement for the traditional lawn, all but eliminating mowing. States are turning to wildflowers along highways to reduce maintenance costs. Like all gardening though, wildflowers have their own demands.

Successful wildflower gardening requires careful planning, soil preparation, and seeding. Pick your site carefully, preferably not north facing or one that has a history of heavy weed growth. Make sure that the area receives enough sunlight for the wildflowers you will be using. Usually site preparation will take one to two years using a combination of cultivation and herbicide applications to eliminate existing growth, roots, and weed seeds. Your task will be made easier if you choose a site that does not border areas of aggressive weedy plants. You will also have to allow for the soil type in site selection. For example, many plants hate heavy clay soils while others cannot stand to have their feet wet.

Make your seed selection carefully. Look not only for flower type but also purity of seed. We recommend using nothing less then 95% pure seeds. Also, avoid those packaged seeds geared to the tourist trade. It might be nostalgic to use “North Manitou Island Wildflowers” in remembrance of that special moment in your garden, but the chances of them growing into something beautiful are slim. Select a variety of wildflowers including some of our native grasses. You want to have a variety, not only for color but to maintain bio-diversity. By providing plants occupying different parts of the soil, you help insure that wildflowers will squeeze out competing weeds. This is one of the secrets to having a low maintenance garden.

Wildfowers certainly have a place in the garden but, do not expect to buy a packet of seeds at the corner drugstore, sprinkle them around, and magically have a field of flowers. It just does not work this way. With a little planning and some up-front work, you can have something that will last for years with little maintenance. The butterflies and birds will love you too.

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Modified: March 8, 2009 at 8:45 am GMT-0800

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