Sow wildflower seed in the fall
Lunceford on Landscaping.BY LU SNYDER
NEILS LUNCEFORDAutumn – not spring – is the best time to sow wildflower seed.By spreading your seed in the autumn, you allow them to remain cold and dormant through the winter – a process some seed require before they can germinate. Additionally, spring snowmelt supplies the seed with natural moisture, decreasing the need for supplemental water.
If you spread your seed in late autumn, just before the snow begins to accumulate, you’ll lose less to wind and birds. If that isn’t practical, however, anytime between now and then is OK.The key is not to sow your seed too early. Be sure to wait until the nights have gotten cold and plants are beginning to lose their leaves or die back.Wildflower mixtures are designed to look wild and natural, so it’s best to sow the seed in less formal areas, such as the edge of your yard, on berms or mixed in with native or taller, non-aggressive clump grasses.
Choose a seed mixture appropriate for the area’s sun exposure and water. Consider your goals as you do so. Do you want blooms immediately or would you prefer native flowers, even if it takes several years?Annuals complete their life cycle in one year. They may reseed, but you’ll need to spread new seed each year to guarantee new blooms. Perennials can live and bloom for many years. When started from seed though, some species take several seasons to germinate and bloom – so be patient. We recommend overseeding perennials for the first three years to establish a full stand of wildflowers.
The better your soil, the more success you’ll have with your wildflowers. If you can, amend the soil with compost and add topsoil if necessary. At a minimum, you should loosen the soil before applying the seed. You can mix the seed with a carrier, such as sand or soil, to help distribute the seed more evenly. Do not cover the seed with too much soil, as some require light to germinate.Seed also need water to germinate. They do best when kept consistently moist. Though you needn’t water the seed in the fall, you may have to water in the spring, after the snow has melted. If you’re spreading your seed over a large area, or where watering isn’t possible, you can still grow wildflowers – it’ll just take more seed and patience.
Sowing wildflower seed is an easy way to bring natural beauty and color to your landscape.LU SNYDER is an employee of Neils Lunceford Inc., a local landscape and design company based in Silverthorne. She can be reached at (970) 468-0340.
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