When to Sow Wildflower Seeds?
The best time to sow wildflower seeds depends upon certain aspects, like wildflower seed dormancy, growth habits of the plants, the rainy season in your area and arrival of heavy frost. You should avoid planting wildflower seeds in the dormant period, waterlogged condition and most importantly, during heavy frosting. For sowing annual and perennial wildflower seeds, spring is the perfect time, while those having biennial growth habit can be planted in spring, late summer and fall.
For some wildflower species (wild carrot, sweet violet, clustered bellflower, etc.), dormant seeding can be done in late fall, when the temperature is too low to induce germination. In the native habitat, these seeds are exposed to chilling period and germination occurs when favorable conditions arrive in the following year. The same can be achieved by sowing seeds outdoors in the dormant period and covering them with compost. This method of subjecting seeds to low temperature condition is called stratification.
How to Sow Wildflower Seeds?
Creating a beautiful wildflower garden is a passion for most avid hobbyists. But, not many can fulfill their wish, assuming that they call for specific growth criteria. The fact is, these flowering plants cover a large space in the natural habitat and grow as wild species. Hence, the name itself signifies ease in planting these flower varieties. Direct and good contact of seeds with soil is imperative to promote germination of wildflower seeds. It is for this reason why hobbyists prefer dormant seeding in late fall or winter.
The growing tricks for wildflowers are no different from the cultivated easy to grow flowers. But, purchasing their seeds is more of a difficult task than actually sowing and planting them. This is because, many of the suppliers mix true seeds with fillers and grasses, which later become a cumbersome task for gardeners to control unwanted plants. So, make sure you contact a trusted wildflower seeds supplier to avoid future headache. Detailed info for planting of wildflower seeds in your garden are explained below.
- For wildflower seeds having tough, thick skin (e.g., rockrose, sainfoin, bluebell, etc.), a simple preparatory step called scarification will help in inducing quick germination. What you can do is put seeds between two sandpaper sheets and rub them before sowing.
- Inquire whether the wildflower seeds you have purchased require sowing in seed tray or not. While this is a prerequisite for most of the species, some wildflowers like cornflower, violet, corn marigold, corn poppy, etc., should be sown directly in garden soil.
- Accordingly, you can either plant wildflower seeds directly in soil or sow in seeding trays. For the former case, check the size of the seeds. If they are small and have thin skin, you can sow them in the soil surface and leave it uncovered. For large seeds, lightly cover seeds with a layer of compost.
- Rake planting soil to about 1 inch depth and remove unwanted weeds by tilling, uprooting and pulling them. If required, supplement a good amount of compost to the garden beds. For planting wildflower seeds over a large area, mix them with a bulk material (like sand) and use a broadcast spreader.
- For seed application in small areas, you can broadcast them evenly with hands, while moving in straight lines. Consider pressing seeds in the soil, so that they are blown away by winds and water them regularly.
- In case, the seeds require sowing in a garden tray, fill the tray with good quality seed compost and sow them. If available, keep it in a glasshouse for providing optimal conditions. Also, keep the medium moist to promote quick sprouting of the seeds.
- Based on the wildflower species you have opted and the sowing time, the seeds will germinate within a few weeks or several months time. Say for example, wildflower seeds that call for stratification are sown in late fall for sprouting in spring of the next year.
- For those sown in garden trays, wait till the seedlings develop 3 leaves. In the meantime, prepare garden beds by loosening soil, removing weeds and supplementing farmyard compost. As soon as the seedlings bear 3 leaves, you can transplant them in already prepared garden beds.