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Master Gardeners: Establishing a Wildflower Garden

By Sheri Bethard

Orange County Master Gardeners

September is the time of year to start working on your spring wildflower garden. Below is a list of the tools you will need for a successful blooming spring wildflower garden.

Tools & Materials:

Mower or clippers

Steel garden rake

Sprinkler

Clear 2 – 4 mil plastic enough to cover area twice

Garden hose

Rotary tiller

Garden fork

Compost

Wildflower seed mix for Zone 9 or your area

Process—

Broadcast spreader – Remove grass & weeds. Mow or cut existing vegetation as low as possible to the ground. Till area with Rotary tiller and water thoroughly, then cover with plastic. Lay hose on top of plastic and place extra plastic on top. Seal edges with stone, brick or something heavy to keep plastic in place. (Plastic will heat area from sun and kill any remaining roots and seeds.

Depending on the amount of sun and how hot the daily temperature is this process can take as little as 2 weeks or as long as 6 weeks. The goal is to raise the soil temperature to above 100°F 3-6 inches deep in the soil. When you remove the plastic, rotary-till the area again. Water and wait 2 weeks for any remaining weeds to sprout. Remove those that do.

Sow Seeds – Sowing your seeds in mid to late September eliminates many of the sprouting weeds that often plague spring plantings but is very useful for many grasses and perennial flowers. Use a broadcast spreader, sowing the seeds at the rate recommended for the mix and rake gently into the top 1 inch of soil. For the plants to become well established, keep the soil evenly moist for the first growing season. Remove any invasive weeds, tree and shrub seedlings as they come up. As the years go by, add additional perennial and grass seeds to fill in gaps and replace any annual seeds needed.

Tips – Some mixes contain common annual flowers, such as bachelor’s buttons and cosmos, which are self-sowing, so you will see them next year, also along with the wildflowers that reseed.

Meadows of mixed flowers and native grasses can replace your lawn, cover a slope or enhance a roadside, thus saving on required watering of your lawns. Most wildflower beds require less watering once established and rarely need mowing, thus saving you time and the expense of mowing. Some wildflowers bloom only in spring while others bloom later on and thru-out the summer. Try to get a good mix of wildflowers to keep your bed flowering all summer long.

Some reputable companies I have purchased wildflower seeds from are Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Turner Seed in Breckenridge, and David’s Garden Seeds in San Antonio all Texas Companies.

Remember, if you have a horticultural question, please contact our hotline on 409-882-7010, Tuesday and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., email ocmg1990@gmail.com or post to our Facebook group Orange County Texas Master Gardeners. We look forward to serving the extended Orange County Area.