planting a wildflower meadow : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I would like to plant a wildflower meadow. Has anyone done this before and if so, can you offer any advice? I have an Extension booklet which is helpful, but I'm concerned that birds and critters will devour my seeds and young shoots. We just moved to this property and there are no fences (yet).

-- Amy (, January 10, 2001


I can't answr your question, but what a beautiful thought, good for you.

-- Cindy (, January 10, 2001.

I have a seed catalog from WILDSEED, 1991, before the internet. 1- 800-848-0078. They are in Eagle Lake, TX. There's instructions for planting.

Mow area as short as possible, rake and clean up the area and hoe lightly-no more than 1/2" deep. Mix your seed with sand, potting soil or topsoil at 4 parts to 1 part seed. Hand broadcast over area and lightly rake over. Don't plant in clover or grasses that grow during the winter. They need 6 hours of sunlight a day with minimal foot traffic.

-- Cindy in Ky (, January 10, 2001.

Amy this is how we did it....In maryland the state plants wild flowers along the highways so I called them and found the company they get their seeds from,Meyer seed.I got a 50lb bag and into mixed so of my favorits and some annuls.Till the groung and broadcast the seeds,we then cover w/something called kirX {sp}its layered straw w/ a netting. Water for about a month every few days until the plants are stonge.Remember to mow it short in the fall ,and it takes a few years to look real nice. If you cant find the seed mix e-mail me and I will see if Meyer has a web site or ships.

-- renee oneill{md.} (, January 10, 2001.

I had thought that I would plant a wildflower meadow for my wife in an area that had been a soybean field.

I went to great lenths to haul off the rocks from the area, spent a lot of bug encrusted itchy time hauling off as much of the old residue and new weeds as I could, blistered my hands tilling the whole thing up, spent a good amount of money planting the seeds, skipped a good number of suppers trying to get it all hoed in before it was too late in the season, and lastly I spread the area full of my valuable poultry manure.

I wound up with a field of 6' broadleaf and mallow, the flowers were there but the Mrs had to push her way through the weed stand to see them hiding.

I guess the reason Im telling you about this most spectacular failure is that Im thinking that maybe a person should start out kinda small and bake the earth with plastic sheets before planting or use some kind of pre-emergent or something and then expand year after year from there. I would hate to hear that you wound up with the same result I did.

-- William in WI (, January 10, 2001.

Where are you & how much area are you putting in?I have beaucoup info on this for mid & s.e. US. Just finished up a birds,bees butterflies and hummers habitat garden of KY natives that I planned & implememted in city park,with the inmates help.Never again.Oh,the garden is great.And,the inmates were great.It's the local politics that stink.

A warning:alot of "wildflower" seed mixes contain nonnatives,including highway dept mix.I helped put in one of those, as well.Some even include invasives,certainly not something you want to do, if you're trying to establish a wildflower area.

I'm particular about using only that which is native to my area. I have sources I can give you for seed and plants.I recommend the latter.William is all too correct.That's how most seedings go.But,You can also grow out your own seed to transplant size,as I do.Not too hard once you learn their requirements.

I'll provide more info,if interested ,when I have more time.

Cindy in Ky- if you are interested in natives,The Salarno wildlife center in Frankfort has Master Habitat Gardener training.I went and it was pretty good.I already knew alot,but the propagation info was great,and the demo gardens were wonderful.Great opportunity to mix with fellow enthusiasts.Mary Carol Cooper at the Game Farm, puts it on.

-- sharon wt (, January 10, 2001.

thanks to everyone for your responses. You all raise good points. I live in upstate New York (USDA zone 5). I haven't seen this property in the spring or summer months (we just closed on it before x-mas) so I don't know exactly what thrives here. From looking at the plant skeltons in the meadows, I notice goldenrod, yarrow, and common mullein. We have a lot of these plants around here. Motherwort is also abundant here. Other common plants are purple phlox, chickory,stinging nettle, and St. John's Wort. Our soil tends to be acid, but I do have quite a few mature hardwoods along the property lines, which tells me that it probably isn't as acid as the last place we owned (conifers galore!). I would love to plant other Northeastern meadow flowers, preferably a small area to start with. One of my seed catalogs (Johnny's?--have to look again) has some premixed wildflower blends for different US regions. I'm also going to look into the places recommended here. Again, thanks for your help.

-- Amy (, January 10, 2001.

Some resources for you:

Prairie Nursery
Wild Ones
Prairie Moon
Pra irie Nurseries List
Oak Prairie Farm
Spring Valley
Nat ive Plants Galore

-- Joy Froelich (, January 11, 2001.

Not really an answer but I have been seeing on ebay recently, people are selling flower seeds, up to 10,000 seeds can be had for less than $5. (search for "10,000 seeds"). I too am planning on doing the wildflower thing, but I am wanting to plant the dam on my 2 acre pond so I don't have to mow it. Last year started with zinnias, cosmos and sweet william and sunflowers -- my poppies never grew. Also, have you tried "Clyde Robin" on the net? They sell mixtures of wildflower seeds in bulk. Wishing you good luck! (I am in Kansas)

-- Teresa Cobb (, January 13, 2001.

I tried poppies at our last place (California poppies) and had no luck either. Not sure what I did wrong. I do envision ,however, a nice meadow that contains poppies!

-- Amy (, January 13, 2001.

I would avoid those cheap $5.00 shake cans that claim to have 100,000 seeds or more. I used them once and i got a terrible shock. They were mostly annuals and although they looked ok the first year i had 6 flowers in the second year. What a waste! I use Wildseed Farms at They sell regional mixes and also individual plants.

I am still working on my area, but i did it little by little to keep costs and work down. I have so many other things going on, like all of you.

First we worked the area up and amended the soil with compost, manure and peat. Your soil maybe fine or need different additives. Be sure to pick a well drained area. You must go down in the soil as deep as you can. If you just till the top inch or so it will only wake up weeds and they will choke out the young seedlings. As stated above, make sure you have the proper amount of sunlight. After we worked the area, we scattered the seeds and walked around to set them in the soil. We gave it a good waterering, at a mist level to not wash out the seeds and then we kept them moist for the first week or so.

As the area filled in with not just annuals, but reseeding annuals and perennials, we put in plants. It helped speed up the look of the meadow and the flower roots helped to hold the new bed more solidly. It will take a few years to see what your area will look like mature, but it is worth it and we have birds, bees & butterflies abundant. Good luck and enjoy!

-- Shau Marie (, January 15, 2001.

William in WI, you are not my husband-how did you wind up with my wildflower garden???? Good suggestion-start small.

-- diane (, January 15, 2001.

Have had great luck with this company , I believe it to be the same as mentioned in the first response : WILDSEED FARMS their current catalogue gives the website as We are in western NY so HEY NEIGHBOR!! One other thing worth mentioning is to check with your local cooperative extension office to make sure your not introducing invasive non-native species.There are several that have become a real problem around here just by the good graces of a few well intentioned ,innocently planted flowers. Best luck and happy planting NEIGHBOR!

-- dan (, January 16, 2001.

My husband isn't William, either -- how did we end up with his wife's garden?!? LOL!!! Seriously, my husband, being impatient, used Roundup on part of our side-yard and planted a wildflower mix. Predictably (I predicted it, ), the weeds came back up and choked out most of the wildflowers, though several years later we are still getting a few chickory and sweet william flowers every summer. If we ever try that again, we'll start flowers in pots or flats and plant just like planting a garden, and keep it weeded for a year or two til the wildflowers get a good start.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, January 18, 2001.

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