North Carolina Wildflower Program
Wildflower Planting Instructions
- 1. Soil Preparation
- Proper soil preparation is one of the most important factors to insure success in planting wildflowers. The site must first be prepared by removing all existing vegetation. The soil is then cultivated with a chisel plow and rototilled to create a fine seedbed. Soil testing is important to determine soil conditions (a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5 is optimal). Dolomitic limestone should be added if the test results indicate very acidic soil. If the results indicate a lack of nutrients, fertilizer should be added during bed preparation. A low nitrogen fertilizer with a ratio of 1-2-2 or 1-3-2 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) is recommended.
- 2. Weed Control
- To eliminate competition from weeds and grasses until wildflowers are well established, beds are selected and maintained to minimize weeds.
- 3. Planting Times and Techniques
- Best results are obtained when seeds are sown in the fall from September through November, or in the spring from March through May. Seeds sown later than November will normally lie dormant and will not germinate until the following spring. Those species that are not winter hardy should be planted in the spring. The seed is thoroughly mixed with clean, coarse sand several times the seed’s bulk for even distribution. Hydroseeders are used for larger areas, while hand seeders may be used for smaller areas. Broadcast the mix evenly into prepared beds. After seeds are planted, the soil is firmed with a cultipacker to insure that the seeds are in good contact with the soil.
- 4. Mulch
- Mulching beds is important for good seed germination. Beds are mulched with coastal bermuda hay, pine straw, fine pine bark, fumigated wheat or rye grain straw. Beds can be irrigated at this time if practical.
- Coastal bermuda hay -- very light, 1/4" deep
- Pine straw -- 1/2" to 1" deep
- Fine pine bark -- very light, 1/4" deep
- Fumigated wheat straw or rye grain straw -- heavy, 1/2" to 1"
- 5. Maintenance
- Once the wildflowers are planted, little or no maintenance is required unless there is an extended dry period. If possible, periodic watering prolongs the blooming period. A slow-release fertilizer may be applied in late winder to insure good growth. Some perennials bloom the first year while others only grow vegetatively and flower the following year. Annuals bloom the first season, set seed and many successfully reseed themselves. To fill in bare spots, break the soil and lightly rake in the seed. If the seed is not harvested, mow once a year to remove old infloresences and further distribute the seed. This should be done about one month after flowers have set seed.