Landscaping with Wildflowers

The increased interest in wildflowers is part of a general trend away from the traditional, more formal approach to gardening carried over from Europe, especially England.

The highly stylized design and structure of European gardens gradually was incorporated into the American urban landscape, and many European plant varieties found their way into American gardens as well. The newer, more casual look in gardening has resulted from an increased interest in our native flora and from concerns about maintenance costs and the conservation of water.

Wildflowers can provide an exciting and satisfying change from traditional urban landscaping. The delicate and natural beauty of wildflowers, combined with a hardiness and self-sufficiency not found often in cultivated and exotic garden plants, has contributed to their popularity. The wildflower market in the United States has matured over the past 10 years and consumers are expressing more specialized interests. In demand are native and naturalized species, low-growing species and mixes, fall-blooming species and those which attract wildlife.

Because native and naturalized wildflowers tend to establish longer than non-native wildflowers, many consumers prefer them for urban and commercial settings. Naturalized species are those which have been introduced into an area and persisted there because they are native to regions with a similar climate and soil type. Many seed companies are offering regionalized mixtures which are suited to specific geographic regions.

Because tall wildflowers can have an unkempt and weedy appearance, especially after blooming, many people are requesting low-growing mixtures and species for their urban settings. Urban and suburban landscapers request mixtures that are 24 inches or less in height for more traditional “tamed” looks.

Many wildflower mixtures contain spring- and summer-blooming, but few fall-blooming species such as asters and goldenrods. In order to extend the blooming time of a mixture so there is color all season long, landscapers are beginning to request more fall-blooming wildflowers.

From a maintenance standpoint, there are several advantages of planting wildflowers rather than traditional garden varieties. Wildflowers perform well in soils of low fertility. Fertilizing is usually unnecessary and actually will encourage weed growth and lush foliage rather than flowers. Mowing is not necessary during the growing season. However, a fall mowing after the wildflowers have bloomed will improve their appearance and help disperse seed.

For good establishment of wildflowers, proper site preparation is essential. Poor germination of wildflower seeds and competition from neighboring plants can result when existing weeds and other vegetation have not been removed before planting. Clearing existing vegetation can be accomplished by pulling, tilling under, spraying with a general herbicide or a combination of these methods. Tilling should be avoided except where the soil is compacted because tilling brings weeds to the surface.

Sufficient water must be supplied during the first four to six weeks after sowing seed- enough to keep the soil consistently moist but not wet. Once wildflowers are established, they will require less supplemental water than many exotic and cultivated plants.

Once wildflowers have germinated, additional weed control is usually necessary. Weeds should be removed as soon as they can be identified. Pulling, spot-spraying or selectively cutting weeds with a string trimmer are successful techniques for reducing weeds. Weed control will be an ongoing activity until wildflowers are well-established.

Free Wildflower Seed Catalogs

Nothing adds more beauty and magic to our yards, parks, streets and landscapes than that of beautiful flowers. Regardless of the type of garden you may grow there are a wide variety free seed catalogs to aid in your garden planning and organization.

With the aid of garden accessories, flower seeds and vegetable seeds gardening enthusiasts all over the country create a myriad of gardens to include; window boxes, containers, hanging baskets, herb seed gardens, flower seeds gardens and vegetable seeds gardens.

A lovely addition to any garden is with the use of wild flower seeds, free wildflower seed catalogs can include wildflowers such as; lavender hyssop, jack in the pulpit, wild ginger, sky blue aster, wild senna, black cohosh, ozark coneflower (echinacea), fireweed, wild strawberry, wild geranium, oxeye sunflower, wild lupine, bergamot, royal fern, wild iris, wild petunia and virginia bluebells to name a few. Wild flower seeds are available in a variety of mixes some of which might be suitable for specific state and site conditions.

Wild flower seeds can also be found to include spring, summer or autumn blooms. A wildflower garden usually requires little maintenance and care if appropriate flower seeds are selected.