Tips for your wildflower garden

Photo: istockphoto.com/Eric Isselée
Wildflowers have the appeal of being low maintenance while adding colour and beauty to your garden. While some species are easily established, most need specific soil and temperature conditions. But, lavish some attention in the beginning and you'll be assured of a beautiful wildflower garden for seasons to come. Avoid these common mistakes:
  • Planting at the wrong time of year. Some seeds need to overwinter, so check with your garden centre, and keep the seeds that need to overwinter to plant in your fall garden.
  • Location, location, location. Make sure to choose the right spot. A flower requiring full sun just won't bloom in shade, or vice versa. When in doubt, go with the rule of thumb that most wildflowers need eight hours of sunlight a day..
  • Good drainage is crucial. Soggy roots are fatal for wildflowers.
  • Don't be over zealous when preparing the soil. Anything more than 2.54 cm (1 inch) may encourage dormant weeds to start growing and suppress the flowers.
  • Don't cover the seeds with soil. For the best results, simply sprinkle seeds on top and gently roll or walk on the soil.
  • Keep seeds moist for the first four to six weeks and then leave them alone. Overwatering kills them. Most wildflowers have adapted to the climatic conditions and will survive until the next rainstorm. That being said, don't let them get bone dry.
  • Don't be stingy. Spreading your seeds too thin lets weeds take over and stops your wildflowers from becoming established.
  • Perfect lines and borders just don't happen in nature. So relax your designs and let your wildflowers– well – go wild!
  • Be patient. Wildflowers take time but once established will come back year after year.
  • Anne Colvey is a freelance writer based in Montreal who researched this article after becoming impatient with her wildflower garden.