Most people do not think about spring wildflowers during the fall. We just left the hot summer months with day after day of heat and just want to enjoy the cooler days and brisk nights.
But now is an excellent time to plan and plant for that brilliant color next spring and summer. I know what youíre saying right now ó if these wildflowers grow in the wild and are native to our area, they must be really easy to grow. Right? Well, yes and no. Yes, they can be easy to grow and provide much enjoyment if grown in the right condition. However, if you do not provide the right conditions, your spring wildflowers could be few and far between.
Here are a few tips to help with a successful wildflower crop next spring.
Taking a cue from nature, we recommend planting wildflowers in the early fall, the same time mother nature puts her seeds out.
First, select a site and prepare a clear seed bed, removing all existing vegetation. Rake or till the soil no more than an inch. Then spread the seeds evenly over the seed bed by hand or spreader.
Next, gently press the seeds into the soil with your foot print or a roller. Donít be alarmed if many of the seeds remain visible. This is what you want. Wildflower seeds need not be any deeper than 1/8 to 1/16 inch to germinate. Keep the soil bed moist for two to three weeks following planting to ensure germination.
Among the best wildflowers for northern and central areas of Texas are bluebonnet, Indian blanket, Indian paintbrush, eryngo, Maximilian sunflowers, Blackfoot daisy, Engelmann daisy, goldenrod, coreopsis, horse mint, black-eyed Susan, Mexican hat, purple prairie coneflowers, clasping coneflowers, yarrow, gayfeather, prairie verbena, and snow-on-the-prairie.
Perhaps the most sought-after wildflower is the bluebonnet. The current method of breaking dormancy, acid scarification, has greatly increased success rates with bluebonnet seeds and has even made it possible to grow transplants for the nursery trade. Acid scarification involves soaking seeds in pure, concentrated sulfuric acid. This is a hazardous process which should be left to professional seeds people. Planting acid-scarified seeds in late summer is the surest way to establish bluebonnets from seed.
Or if you want to strategically place them in the flowerbed, Bluebonnet transplants will be available in area nurseries and garden centers in August and September. Selections will include white, pink and assorted shades of blue. Plant bluebonnets in a well-drained site in full sun. Fertilizers are not required.
Over-watering may be the greatest threat to young plants. Water the transplants when you plant them and donít water them again until the soil dries to a depth of one inch.
Planting in flower boxes or decorative pots will help showcase your bluebonnets. Fill in around the rosettes with pansies or dianthus to create interest this winter. The bluebonnets will easily push up through them for the main attraction next spring.
For more information contact the Somervell County Extension Office at 897-2809.