Ideas for Planting Wildflowers

Wildflowers are native plants that grow in places that are conducive to their needs. If a wildflower is suited to the environment in your yard, it makes an unusual and carefree addition to the home landscape. All states and many geographic regions have their own Native Plant Society. If you are interested in learning about the wildflowers in your area, these organizations can provide a wealth of information. Many hold annual plant sales or seed exchanges.

Grow What is Native to Your Region

The plants that live in the same climate zone where you live are the best choices for successful plants that will be likely to reseed themselves and create more plants the following year without your help. Wildflowers that are native to your region will also attract native butterflies, birds and beneficial insects. Check your soil to learn if it is sandy, loam or clay; if the wildflower favors the same type of soil, it will be a winner in your yard. Evaluate how much sun and shade different areas of your property receive and then plant your wildflowers in the place where they will have conditions similar to their native environment.

Group Plants

Group several of the same plants close to each other. Grouping plants makes more of an impact than a single plant because the flowers will stand out more. Be sure to leave enough space between plants so they do not compete for water and soil nutrients. If you can find your particular plant growing wild, take a cue from nature and plant it as close as possible to the way it grows in the wild.

Graduate Plant Placement and Blooming Times

Plant tall wildflowers in the back row of garden beds, medium-height plants in the center and shorter, smaller plants along the front border of your planting area. If you want a specific color theme in your wildflower bed, choose plants with complementary flower colors, such as yellow, orange and red. Many wildflowers bloom only in spring, while others bloom in summer. For a continuous display of wildflowers, research the time of year various wildflowers bloom and then intersperse spring-blooming plants with those that bloom in the summer.

Order and Start Seeds in Winter

Plan your wildflower gardening project during winter. Search for seeds online and bedding plants at specialty nurseries in your area. If you order seeds from a catalog that specializes in native plants, you will find a larger selection of varieties than most nurseries carry. Different plants grow at different rates, but in general, begin wildflower seeds in late winter in pots or flats you will keep indoors. Be sure to give them sufficient light---many plants require 12 hours of sunlight or artificial light each day. Use a soil that is conducive to each type of plant and keep the soil moist until after the seeds germinate. Then wait until after your final spring frost to set your young wildflower plants in the garden.

Avoid Deadheading and Fertilizing

Many gardeners practice deadheading, which is simply the removal of dead flowers from their plants. However, wildflowers fall into a slightly different category than do other flowering plants such as roses when it comes to deadheading. If you leave the spent blossoms on wildflowers, chances are they will form seeds, which will drop to the ground and sprout new wildflower plants the following spring or summer, just as the plant does in its natural environment. That's how they reproduce. During winter, when all dead flowers begin to disintegrate, you can trim your perennial wildflowers such as penstemons to keep them looking tidy. Because wildflowers do not get fertilizer in the wild, you need not normally give them any plant food.

Keywords: native plants, wildflower gardening, landscape design

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.