By Rachel Webb
If you like the charm of a natural flowering meadow with a mismatch of blooms, you should try growing your own wildflower garden.
Wildflower seeds are widely available at most all nursery or garden centers but you will want to choose packets that have flowers that are grouped according to the area or zone that you live in for the best results.
As with any kind of gardening, soil preparation is one of the most important steps to successful flowers. Without a good soil base, the roots will not be able to find nutrients to insure a healthy plant.
You will want to remove any existing vegetation and weeds by breaking up the soil and adding organic materials that are rich in oxygen. You are trying to create an airy soil that can drain well also. Compacted soil has few air and water pores. Ideally you want your soil to drain the water in 10 to 30 minutes. Less than 10 minutes means that your soil will dry out to quickly. Over 30 minutes of drainage time means that you will have to water slowly to avoid runoff. Wildflowers will not require a perfect soil combination but you should strive for the best soil conditions you can.
You can make your own wildflower mix by gathering seeds from plants that you know are native to your area or region. Take into consideration where you will be planting the seeds and determine if it will be a shady or sunny location as well. You will want to try and choose wildflower seeds that are the best suited for your particular use.
Generally speaking, 1/4 pound of wildflower seed will cover 1,000 square feet of space. Reduce the square footage coverage if you prefer a thick coverage of flowers. Lightly scatter your seeds by hand on the prepared soil. If the seeds are to small to handle easily you can mix them with sand to aid in sowing. Mix one part seed to four parts clean sand. You can lightly rake the seeds into the soil when you are finished. If you are expecting heavy winds you may want to cover the area with straw to keep it moist to protect the seeds from blowing away.
I suggest that you purchase extra seed so that you can lightly re-seed each year. Wildflowers are often a mixture of annuals and perennials and so many of the flowers should come back each year. Re-seeding lightly can help keep the flowers at their best.
You will need to do some weeding of course. At first it may be difficult to distinguish the wildflowers from the flower seeds but the weeds will tend to grow the fastest and will try to choke out other plantings.
To aid in the natural seeding process, leave your dead wildflowers alone at the end of the season until the mature blossom has gone to seed. Then you can mow down the dying crop to help scatter the new seeds and keep your garden looking neat and tidy.
If you live in a dry climate, the best time to plant is when you are expecting a rainy season. The rain will assist you in watering wildflowers that you may be planting in a area without a sprinkling system installed. In cold Winter climates you will need to plan on planting in the Spring or early Summer to avoid frost. Ideally, the rainwater will sprout your seeds and make your gardening job much easier but if not, you may need to hand water daily until the seeds are up and growing strong.
About the Author Author Rachel Webb designs large and decorative write-on/wipe-off magnetic fridge calendars made entirely out of heavy-duty magnet! Guaranteed not to slide off when the kids slam the fridge door!