Wildflowers are very popular right now, and I've seen some people get amazing results by planting an entire flower bed with wildflower seeds. Garden stores sell huge containers full of nothing but wildflower seeds. This year in my daughter's second grade class, each child was given a pack of wildflower seeds by some program or another. There is plenty of opportunity to plant wildflowers, so how do we best take advantage of that opportunity?

The best way, and the most successful way to grow wildflowers would obviously be to carefully plant the seeds in a well prepared garden bed, water the area regularly, and cultivate the bed to remove any undesirable bugs or weeds. Well duhhhh..but that kind of defeats the whole idea of wildflowers doesn't it? In my mind, the whole idea behind this sudden increase in availability of wildflower seeds is that the seeds will be randomly scattered everywhere and our world will become more flowery. And yes...if you take a package of wildflower seeds and throw them to the wind, some will survive. This is how I like to plant wildflower seeds, however.

Most packages of seeds will state whether the plants within are to be grown in sun or shade. This is important. Full sun generally means that the area with the plants in it must recieive 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Also, some sort of moisture helps the plants germinate and keep growing. Chances are, if there are plants growing there now, wildflowers will survive. It doesn't take much water. Time of year is also important. Seeds spread in early to late spring will not only have water available usually, but they will have to compete less with existing plants, as those plants will also just be sprouting.

I like to gently disturb the soil in the area where I am going to spread the wildflower seeds. I do this with a bamboo rake. I can rake over the area, and this breaks the surface of the soil without uprooting existing plants or totally disrupting the soil layers. If the soil is slightly moist, this is even more effective. Then I broadcast sow the seeds, that is, I spread them onto the ground by tossing small handfuls, spreading the seeds out as much as i can. My final act is to toss about 1/2 inch of compost over the newly spread seeds. This not only keeps the seeds from blowing away and drying out, but the compost gives the seeds needed nutrients so they can get a good start.

I've had really good luck planting wildflower seeds with this method in places where grass and other plants already exist, such as roadsides and empty lots. It's fun, and as most wildflowers are either perennials or self-sow, the area that I plant stays flowered for a long time.