Interested in growing wildflowers? Spring or fall are great times to plant a new wildflower meadow or renovate an old patch! Here’s how to select wildflowers for your yard and garden.
They are resilient! There are more than 6,000 native wildflower species growing all across America. They occur naturally in their climate so they’re are very resilient in all weather conditions.
They are easy! Wildflowers are happily married to the soil and climatic conditions in which they’ve evolved! When there is a suitable match of plant and growing conditions, it’s easy.
They support the birds and bees! Native wildflowers are not only beautiful but also attract pollinators and nurture the landscape for birds. Without native plants and the insects that co-evolve with them, local birds and wildlife couldn’t survive..
When to Plant Wildflowers
Wildflowers can be planted in the early spring to grow in the summer. Or, plant in the fall for spring flowers. Cool, wet days allow the seed of perennial flowers to germinate, while annual flower seed can lie dormant until spring.
The first step in growing a new wildflower patch is to select the right varieties for your region. To make sure that a wildflower is recommended for your area, however, we advise consulting your local Cooperative Extension Service.
5 Popular Wildflowers
- Indian Blanket is an annual which produces red, daisy-like flowers with yellow edging. It blooms in early summer.
- Shirley Poppy is an annual which produces papery flowers in shades of pink, red, and white. It flowers from spring until mid-summer and often self sows.
- Black-eyed Susans are a classic perennials, producing bright yellow flower petals with a black center. It flowers from midsummer until fall.
- Purple Coneflowers are resilient perennial which produce purple-petaled flowers with a prickly orange center (cone). It flowers from midsummer until frost. It naturalizes and spreads easily.
- Lupine produces tall flower spikes that bloom in early summer in colors such as red, blue, pink, and white. They are perennials and naturalize easily.
Here is a list of more widely-adapted wildflowers to explore.
New England aster
Native Geophytes (Bulbs)
Narrow beach fern
Five-finger maiden-hair fern
Southern beech fern
A Wildflower Meadow in a Can?
Ignore those ads promising that one container full of seeds will turn into a meadow of wildflowers. Establishing any plant community takes prep work and maintenance.
Also, be aware that a wildflower meadow is not neat and tidy. Nature goes through dormancy, and nature can be messy.
Be a Good Plant Shopper
“Preserve it in the wild.
Perpetuate it in your garden.”
That’s the motto of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Shop at reputable native-plant nurseries rather than kidnapping plants from the wild. Collecting wild plants has already seriously diminished and even eliminated whole colonies of natives, and it’s not even very successful.
Find a native-plant nursery which uses plants propagated from wild populations within 50 miles (or as close as possible) to your garden. Look for plants that are “nursery propagated” not “nursery grown.”
For a list of native-plant nurseries, see the Wildflower Center’s suppliers directory.
- For a 500-square-foot plot, use ¼ pound of wildflower seeds.
- Wildflowers prefer a space with full direct sun with a minimum of 6 hours per day.
- Wildflowers do not usually need rich soil; they’ll grow most anywhere. It’s best to just mow an area close to the ground and kill the existing vegetation by hand pulling tough perennial weeds.
- Do not till new ground (which brings weed seeds to the surface).
- Usually, just scratch the soil and sow your wildflower seeds. Press the seed into the soil with your feet.
- Keep watered. Pull any obvious weeds (usually those which grow faster and taller).
- After wildflowers bloom, let them drop their seeds and self-sow. In the fall, mow the patch and leave the cuttings on the ground.
- If maintained, your wildflower patch should grow for several years.
See our video demonstrating How to Grow Wildflowers!