There are few better ways to connect with nature on a regular basis than to grow a garden in your own backyard. And wildflowers like black-eyed Susan, wild bergamot, and butterfly weeds are the perfect way for gardening newbies to start: not only do they grow back every year with relatively little maintenance, but even a square foot. can support your local ecosystem, providing food for pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies and songbirds.
Plus, every little bit counts – surprisingly, we are losing more and more acres of native grasslands and wildflowers every year. And that’s bad news for all kinds of wildlife.
The Great Plains region of the United States alone has lost 33 million acres of these habitats since 2009 (that’s half the size of Colorado!).
Environmentalists and even companies like Air Wick are also contributing to the cause. They have team up with the World Wildlife Fund to reseed a billion square feet of wildflowers and grasslands across the United States over the next three years. Want to do your part? Here are the steps (and the tools you’ll need) to plant.
1. Prepare your space.
Wildflowers don’t need much to thrive, but they love sunlight a lot. Choose a location in your garden (at least one square foot) that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Fall is a great time to build your flower beds, and there is still plenty of time to plant, depending on when the frost hits your area (you should aim for an 8-10 week window, but discuss your plans with a local gardening specialist).
You’ll want to start with a blank slate, so grab a pair of gloves and others. gardening tools it will facilitate the work of your body. Gently break up weeds and clods with your hands or a larval hoe, cleaning the area of existing vegetation, rocks or other debris. Finally, use a rake to level the ground on a flat surface.
2. Study your soil.
Although you already have some flowers in mind that you want to plant, they may not be compatible with the growing conditions native to your area. Before ordering seeds or visiting your local garden center, you should know the local climate and soil type. Use the United States Department of Agriculture Map of plant hardiness zones to determine which plants are most likely to thrive where you live.
Only consider flower varieties with your zone number or less so that they are sure to survive the winter. Another way to see which wildflowers will work best in your garden is to measure the acidity and texture of your soil’s drainage with a simple pH test, available at your local garden center.
3. Choose your seeds.
Once you know the type of soil you are working with, a gardening expert can suggest an ideal seed mix to suit your space and budget; this will help ensure that whatever you plant is well suited to where you live. (You can also request free seeds from Air Wick that are appropriate for your region). All wildflowers attract pollinators, but some types are more likely to attract specific species of birds, bees, and butterflies, so you may want to consider that as well.
4. Plant your plot.
When you first see the seeds, you will probably be surprised at how small and dust-like they are. To plant them evenly, start with moist soil, then mix the seeds in a small bucket of sand and sprinkle the mixture over the bare soil. This will make it easy to see where you have and haven’t sown. For good measure, gently rake the area as well, then apply a thin layer of mulch or shredded straw all over to retain moisture. As a last step, water the area to keep everything in place.
Tip: don’t crash all of your seeds at a time. Instead, save some for when the garden begins to grow. That way, you’ll have a few extras on hand to fill in any bare plots you might have missed.
5. Give the flowers a little TLC.
Although wildflower gardens are long term self-sufficient, they do require follow-up care, especially in the early stages. Once the seeds germinate (which can take up to three weeks), they need constant moisture to make strong seedlings that will grow into vigorous plants. Be prepared to water the garden every day, if it isn’t raining, especially if the weather is hot and dry. However, don’t drown the soil, just let it soak until the water seeps in for several inches.
6. Plan ahead for next season.
Weeds are an unfortunate natural byproduct of any wildflower garden, but there are steps you can take to limit their growth. Once the perennials have gone dormant for the season (usually in late fall), mow the plants to about four to six inches to help reduce out-of-season weed growth.
In the spring, the first plants to emerge in your wildflower garden will be the cool-season weeds. Mow them before the weeds have time to flower and seed. At this point, the wildflowers, which are mostly warm-season plants, will only be a few inches tall by this time, so when you mow you will be removing weeds but sparing the wildflowers. This will give your garden plenty of time to flourish, creating a square foot (or more!) Of gorgeous space for you. and your local fauna to enjoy it all season long.
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