Wildflowers – Should you water them?

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I hope to give you enough information in this post that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to water your wildflowers.

How I Determined How to be Successful with Wildflowers

I’ve grown a lot of wildflowers over the years and oddly enough became successful by doing almost the opposite of what the folks who sell wildflowers recommend.

My “rebellion” did not really stem from a rebellious attitude — but rather from not having the means to do what they recommended and still having an overwhelming desire to be successful with wildflowers.

As I became more and more experienced and understood the conditions necessary for success — I found ways to obtain those conditions but in a slightly different manner than what the “experts” suggested.

Moisture is Necessary for Germination

One of the most important conditions required for wildflowers to germinate is moisture.

For this reason wildflower seed companies advise that you mist (or use a sprinkler on) the seed bed after you plant and keep it moist until the young plants are 6 to 8 inches tall.

A way around the conventional recommendation.

#1 Taking advantage of the wettest season

One of the reasons I started planting earlier than is recommended by the seed companies, is to take advantage of the rainiest (or wettest season) — which in our area is late winter. Even the driest of areas are delightfully moist about now.  If I waited to plant until danger of frost was past in late April — I’d run into a lot of dryness and the possibility of no rain when it’s critical for wildflowers.

And yes, I have to keep an eye on the weather the best I can and make an educated guess as to when I should begin to plant. As I mentioned in the last post I don’t want to be sowing wildflowers in deep snow or when the ground is frozen solid and there is every indication it’ll stay that way for a while.

Since we can never predict exactly what the weather will be — succession sowing a week or two apart for about 4 times really helps increase your chances for great success.

#2 A very thin layer of straw

The companies who sell wildflower seeds warn: “Remember, some of the seed you’re sowing is tiny; even the lightest covering of soil can stop it from germinating.”

As I  mentioned in the post on Poppies — after I sow the seed I cover it with an ever-so-light layer of straw. Sometimes I put the very thin layer of straw down first and then sow directly onto it. I haven’t had any problem with it stopping seed from germinating.  But believe me — I’m very careful to make that layer of straw as thin as possible.

If I have time — I’ll even cut the straw with the lawn mower to make it very fine.

To look at that very thin layer of straw on my wildflower beds — one would think it could not hold moisture at all. Unbelievably — and lucky for me —- it does.

#3 Add straw as the plants grow

As my wildflowers come up and continue to grow, I continue to “sprinkle” straw on the bed.  Why?

Most years we have a month or more of drought here in Virginia.  So keeping every bit of moisture that I can in the soil is important.

One More Thing

If you decide to water your wildflowers, water less than you think you need to.

Most people can’t resist over watering.  That’s a sure way to make those wildflowers dependent on you.  And there goes your carefree wildflower bed.

Not to mention that some of those wildflowers don’t like to be watered all the time and won’t do well if they are.

Coming Up Next

In the next post, I’ll cover whether or not you should plant wildflower seeds via the wintersown method.

See you then.


Suggested Reading before making your Decision:

Watering – Guidelines to Consider

Watering – It’s Overrated

Needs One Inch of Rain a Week — Oh Yeah?

Should You Garden if You Can’t Water? – Yes!

Backyard Landscaping Ideas – Wildflowers


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