Sowing wildflower seeds for the do-it-yourselfer
The most popular and best performing species in Oklahoma are black-eyed Susan, Indian blanket (our state wildflower), Indian paintbrush, bigflower coreopsis, prairie coneflower, purple coneflower, clasping coneflower, lazy daisy, lemon mint, missouri primrose, and plains tickseed.
Sowing seeds harvested in Oklahoma, rather than in other parts of the country, helps ensure success since these seeds are regional hardy. Sow seeds in the fall for best results.
To sow on small area of existing grass:
1. Use an herbicide to eliminate competing vegetation, or
2. Mow vegetation as short as possible; remove clippings.
3. Rake area no more than 1/4” to loosen soil.
4. Mix seeds thoroughly and hand broadcast.
5. Lightly rake area.
6. Fertilize lightly only if soil lacks nutrients.
Advisory: Do not sow wildflower seeds in annual rye grass, fescue, or other winter-growing grasses. These grasses won’t give wildflower seeds a chance. Don’t fertilize plants again unless you want few blooms and tall, floppy stems.
To sow on small area of bark mulch:
Remove bark mulch.
Follow steps 3 – 6 above.
To sow large area:
1. Mow grass as short as possible.
2. Drag a railroad tie spiked with long nails to rough up the soil.
3. Hand broadcast or use a hand-held broadcast seeder to sow seeds.
4. Drag a piece of chain-link fence weighted with concrete blocks over area so seeds contact with soil.
Advisories: Do not use a roto-tiller; it stirs up dormant weeds and digs too deep. Wildflower seeds should be planted less than 2” deep. Be sure seed gets through existing vegetation to the ground. A dense stand of Bermuda with thick thatch can prevent or reduce seed germination.
Some seeds germinate in 10-20 days. Others germinate in early spring. Water during germination and seedling stage only if soil is dry. Most wildflowers love at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, want water once in awhile and hate foot traffic.
Perennials return year after year. Annuals return if allowed to reseed before mowing. Reseeding takes about 2 weeks. When dense brown foliage offsets the floral colors, the plants can be trimmed or mowed.