By Kathi Fast, Denton County Master Gardener Association
Sowing wildflower seed mixes is an inexpensive way to fill an area with a variety of colorful springtime blooms. Native bees and other pollinators appreciate the nectar that wildflowers provide early in the season.
To have the best chance of success with your wildflower garden, here are a few things to consider:
Select seeds of species that are native to your area. Some seed suppliers prepare blends that are labeled for specific geographic regions. You can also compare the seeds listed on the packet with the native plant database on the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center website (www.wildflower.org). Texas A&M’s Wildflowers in Bloom website (https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/) also provides detailed growing information and photographs for dozens of wildflowers.
Locate your wildflower garden in full sun. It is essential that the soil drain well.
When to Plant
In North Texas, sow wildflower seeds in fall for spring bloom.
Start with a clean slate. Remove weeds and turf grasses that will crowd out wildflower seedlings. Lightly rake the surface no more than 1” deep to loosen the soil, but not so deep that you expose more weed seeds. Integrating organic material or compost improves soil by adding plant nutrients and helping break up clay soil.
Scatter seeds by hand or with a handheld spreader onto bare earth. You can add sand or perlite to your mix in a ratio of 4 parts inert material to 1 part seed mix. Do not cover the seeds with soil, but do press down on the area by walking or using a roller. It is important that the seeds are in contact with the soil but not covered with more than 1/16”-1/8” of soil.
Ongoing Care of your Wildflower Garden
Gently hand water at first sowing and keep the area evenly moist (but not saturated) for the next 4 to 6 weeks until the plants are a couple of inches high. Once established, wildflowers need minimal supplemental water.
If you planted a mixture of seeds, germination will be sporadic. Be aware that emerging seedlings could easily be mistaken for weeds. Texas A&M’s Wildflowers in Bloom website includes photographs of common wildflower seedlings to assist in identification.
For more information about gardening in North Texas see dcmga.com/north-texas-gardening.