Planting Information


We dedicate this part of our website to your success with wildflowers.  Simply click on the information link, and the answer to your selection will appear.  If you require additional information or have a unique situation, please contact our customer service department toll free at (800) 848-0078.

1. When should I plant?

Wildflower planting dates largely depend on site location and geographic weather patterns.  The planting timetable should be decided by seasonal precipitation in your area rather than by temperature.  Wildflowers can be planted in the fall or early spring throughout all regions of the U.S. In the northern and northeastern geographic regions of the United States, USDA Zones 1 through 6, where extremely harsh winters are experienced, an early spring planting is recommended. In the Southern regions of the United States, USDA Zones 7 through 11, your wildflowers can be sown in early spring if desired.  Note: There are risks associated with an early spring planting in USDA Zones 1 through 11.  Warm spring weather and adequate rainfall will accelerate germination and seedling growth.  However, if rainfall is sporadic after initial germination followed by an extremely hot, dry period, supplemental watering may be required to keep the ground from drying out and the seedling from dying.  Sowing In the southern and western portions of the United States, USDA Zones 7 through 11, the autumn months of September through December are the most favorable to plant your wildflowers.  Many of the species will quickly germinate in order to allow the seedling enough time to establish a healthy root system before going dormant in the winter.  Some of the seeds may not germinate if the ground temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  These seeds will remain dormant within the soil until early spring and will begin to emerge under more favorable conditions.  In the northern regions, USDA Zones 1 through 6, your wildflowers can be planted in late fall.  If you decide to plant your seeds in the fall in Zones 1 through 6, the seed will remain dormant during the harsh winter months and germination will begin at the first indication of spring.  NOTE: There are risks in sowing exotic garden varieties and "domesticated" species D in the fall.  Freeze damage may kill these varieties if unseasonably cold temperatures persist for long periods of time.

2. What should I consider when selecting a site for wildflowers?

Placement is a good start! Prior to planing your wildflowers, select a site that will be appropriate for the nature of your project. Improper site selection or planning usually produces unsatisfactory results. Here are some important factors to consider. 

  • Does the chosen site support plants now?  If you have an area that is naturally void of any plants, including unwanted weeds, the area is unlikely to support wildflowers.
  • If rainfall is inadequate during germination and the seedling establishment, can you supply supplemental water if necessary?
  • Does the area receive a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight per day?
  • Have you determined the existing soil type and drainage within the area?  Poorly drained or heavily compacted soils will produce unsatisfactory results.  Assessment of the important factors will be necessary to ensure your success!
  • 3. How do I start my wildflower seeds?

    Wildflowers are becoming an increasingly popular landscape alternative by adding color and natural beauty to any area. Unlike the typical European-styled formal gardens of straight lines, square corners and manicured edges, wildflower gardens have the appeal of low maintenance by requiring little water and reduced mowing frequency once established. There is a common misconception today that wildflowers are easily grown from seed. Indeed, some species require little more effort than casting the seed on the soil and waiting for growth.  Most wildflowers, however, require specific soil and temperature conditions, a certain degree of ongoing personal attention and most of all, patience.  We have tried, in this catalog, to assist you in your wildflower selection by labeling each species with an average "planting success" rate on a scale of 10% to 100%.  Wildflower species with a lower percentage ratio may require more of your time and attention, but will be worth your effort.  Additional information about the temperament of each species is included within the description.  Unlike ornamental flower or vegetable seeds, most of the wildflower seeds in our catalog have not been genetically altered to achieve specific traits such as rapid germination, height, color or adaptation to specific soil types or climates.  Each species has been tested for purity and germination by an independent laboratory and meets our high standard of quality before we make the seed available to you for planting.  As wildflower enthusiasts, we want to produce in two to three years a display of color to match that which has taken Mother Nature hundreds of years to achieve.  Nature plays an important role in the success or failure of all wildflower plantings.  Adverse weather conditions such as drought, hail, or excessive rainfall-obviously beyond human control-may seriously affect the success of your wildflowers.  Soil or drainage problems in your planting area may also hamper germination of your seeds; interpretation of the best possible planting area is the customer's responsibility.  At Wildseed Farms we are anxious for your success with wildflower gardening.  Additional help and technical advice is available simply by calling our toll free number (800) 848-0078.  We cannot, however, assume liability for the results obtained based on advice given, nor can we be responsible for substandard performance of our product due to conditions beyond our control.

    4. How do I plant wildflower seeds?

    In order to achieve a successful stand of wild flowers, it is very important that the soil is prepared correctly and the seed is rolled or pressed into the soil after sowing. Burying the seed too deeply or casually broadcasting the seed over an unprepared area will only product disappointing results. Steps for planing a successful wildflower meadow. 

    1. Select a site that drains well.  Oftentimes we tend to plant in areas that are low-lying or poorly drained, thinking that the wild flowers will flourish under these moist conditions.  Moist locations are usually very weedy, because as water drains through the area, thousands of weed seeds are deposited onto the site that were collected upstream.  Remember...most wildflowers thrive in well drained soils.
    2. Use a herbicide to eliminate any vegetation which may compete with your wildflowers (Optional).
    3. Mow the existing or dead vegetation as short as possible.  Collect the clippings and remove the material from the site.
    4. To prepare the seed bed, rake or lightly till the surface of the soil to a maximum depth of one inch.  Shallow soil preparation will limit the disturbance of dormant weed seed.
    5. It is helpful to thoroughly mix a carrier such as masonry sand, perlite, potting soil, etc., with the seed to increase volume and aid in even distribution over your site.  We recommend a minimum of 4 parts of inert material to 1 part of seed. 
      * Sowing a pinch of seed in a flowerpot or cup filled with potting soil will provide you with a transportable specimen to take to the meadow for easy identification.
    6. Broadcast one half of your seed as uniformly as possible over the prepared area.  Sow the remaining seed in a direction perpendicular to the initial sowing.
    7. Press the seed into the soil by walking or rolling over the newly planted area.  Do not cover the seed any deeper than 1/16th of an inch.  Some of the seeds will remain visible.   NOTE:  DO NOT plant wild flowers in clover or grasses that grow during the winter (example: annual rye grass or fescues) as this vegetation will be too aggressive to allow the wild flowers to become established.

    5. Do I have to water? When Should I Water My Wildflowers?

    Your wildflower seeds will require ample moisture to germinate and develop into healthy seedlings. For best results, the area should be kept moist for 4 to 6 weeks during the establishment period. If natural rainfall is inadequate, supplemental watering with a garden hose may be necessary. Light and frequent applications of water should be applied to keep the ground moist. Once your wildflowers begin to germinate do not allow the site to completely dry out but avoid over watering the area. If the soil becomes overly saturated, the seedlings could die from the lack of oxygen supplied to the root system. How frequently you water your newly planted area will depend on local rainfall and soil types. In the western United States you may need to water every day. In the south, central and eastern regions of the United States you may need to water every couple of days. In the southwest desert region, several waterings a day might be needed until your plants are well established. After your seedlings are 1 to 2 inches in height, watering should be gradually reduced and applied only if the plants show signs of stress. On larger projects that cannot be irrigated plant in the fall or early spring during the months when rainfall is usually abundant. If adequate moisture is not received by natural rainfall and irrigation is not possible at your planting site you may run the risk of disappointing results during a dry year.

    6. Can wildflowers be planted in the shade?  How much sunlight do wildflowers need?

    Most wildflowers require a great deal of sunshine.  If your area receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day, your wildflowers will prosper.  A few species can tolerate partial shade, but for best results they must have at least four hours of sunlight each day.  If you are planting in an area which will receive 4-6 hours of partial sun, the below list should help in your selection.  Should the area selected receive less than 4 hours of direct sun it is not recommend that wildflowers be planted.  Our BUTTERFLY HUMMINGBIRD MIX contains many of the more shade tolerant wildflowers.  Perennial wildflowers require 2 springs before flowering so have patience.  Perennials wildflowers are listed in the left column; Annual wildflowers in the right.  Each species is linked to a photo.   NOTE: Sun loving wildflowers that are planted in a shaded environment will produce spindly or "leggy" plants with very few blooms.

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    7. How do I store my wildflower seeds?

    Your leftover seeds will maintain a high germination percentage if stored under proper conditions.  How long your seeds remain viable will depend on the temperature and moisture levels the seeds are exposed to.  Seeds which are improperly stored will quickly deteriorate if unprotected against high humidity and dramatic temperature fluctuations day after day.  For best results, store any unused seed in a water resistant container.  Common household items such as ziplock storage bags, glass jars or plastic containers with snap-on lids work well.  Place the unused portion of seed in the storage container that you have chosen.  Before sealing the container add a packet of desiccant to the seed such as silica gel.  The silica gel will remove any moisture that remains in the storage container after it is sealed.  Seed stored under these conditions will remain viable for many years.  If you collect seed from your own wildflower area, the seed should be thoroughly air dried on newspaper.  Seed which are not completely dry prior to storage will contain excessive moisture which will cause mold to grow and damage the seed.  After the seeds are completely dry  the seeds should be cleaned to remove as much chaff and leaf litter as possible.  Follow the above procedure to store your how grown wildflower seeds for future use.

    8. Should I fertilize?

    We do not recommend fertilizing your wild flowers unless the area is depleted of nutrients.  Fertilization of wildflowers after the plants are established will encourage the growth of unwanted weeds, produce lush foliage and very few blooms.  If you must amend the soil, use a conservative amount of fertilizer at the time of planting.   For best results we recommend a low nitrogen fertilizer with an approximate ratio of  1-3-2  (1 part nitrogen - 3 parts phosphorus - 2 parts potassium).

    9. How do I control grass in my wildflowers?

    As your wildflowers become established, many types of aggressive grasses that were not successfully eliminated during the initial site preparation may appear.  Johnson grass, Crabgrass, and Ryegrasses are examples of unwanted grass varieties that can hide your wildflowers from view and compete with the area's overall beauty.  We recommend Ornamec® 170 herbicide to eliminate unsightly, protruding grasses without injury to your wildflowers, including emerging wildflower seedlings and transplants.  Labeled for over-the-top application, Ornamec® 170's active ingredient begins to work within five days to remove unsightly grasses.   NOTE OBSERVE ALL PRECAUTIONS AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY.    Mixture Ratio 8 - 10 ounces per gallon of water.

    10. How do I control weeds?

    Proper site evaluation and soil preparation are the first defenses against the competition of unwanted weeds in your wildflower site.  Before planting, assess the current weed population existing within the area.  If the site contains an overabundance of weeds, which is usually the case in low-lying or run-off areas where water occasionally stands, we highly recommend that an alternate site be selected.  For best results, choose an area that is elevated with adequate drainage.  A site which is well drained should have a limited population of existing weeds.  To remove the existing weeds from the site, you have the option to treat the entire area with a nonselective herbicide such as Roundup or remove the weeds by hand.  After the area is cleared of as many weeds as possible, soil preparation can begin.  Remember that thousands of buried weed seeds lie dormant beneath the soil, ready to germinate if the ground is disturbed too deeply.  Extensive rototilling, disking or plowing the soil greater than one inch in depth will release the dormant weed seed found within the sub-soil.  Improper soil preparation can create an uncontrollable weed problem in your wildflower area that could have been avoided.  As your wildflowers germinate and grow, periodically hand pull any weeds that may have come up since planting. Weeding should be minimal if the area was prepared properly. Weeds are an inevitable part of gardening and they should be expected.  A little planning and preventive maintenance in combination with proper site selection and soil preparation will greatly reduce the competition of unwanted weeds within your wildflowers.Your wildflower seeds will require ample moisture to germinate and develop into healthy seedlings. For best results, the area should be kept moist for 4 to 6 weeks during the establishment period. If natural rainfall is inadequate, supplemental watering with a garden hose may be necessary. Light and frequent applications of water should be applied to keep the ground moist. Once your wildflowers begin to germinate do not allow the site to completely dry out but avoid over watering the area. If the soil becomes overly saturated, the seedlings could die from the lack of oxygen supplied to the root system. How frequently you water your newly planted area will depend on local rainfall and soil types. In the western United States you may need to water every day. In the south, central and eastern regions of the United States you may need to water every couple of days. In the southwest desert region, several waterings a day might be needed until your plants are well established. After your seedlings are 1 to 2 inches in height, watering should be gradually reduced and applied only if the plants show signs of stress. On larger projects that cannot be irrigated plant in the fall or early spring during the months when rainfall is usually abundant. If adequate moisture is not received by natural rainfall and irrigation is not possible at your planting site you may run the risk of disappointing results during a dry year.

    11. Will my wildflowers return?

    Allow two weeks after the full bloom period has passed for the seeds to mature. As a rule of thumb, when the dead brown foliage offsets the floral color display, the area can be trimmed. Mow the area to a height of 4-6 inches. Often two cuttings will be needed to thoroughly break up the resulting stem and leaf litter. Annual mowing aids in seed dispersal, reduces competition of unwanted weeds and grasses and allows sufficient sunlight to penetrate to the lower growing plants and emerging seedlings.   CAUTION: Cutting the vegetation below 3 inches has a tendency to damage the perennial varieties.

    12. Do deer eat wildflowers?

    Is Bambi nibbling away at your plants?  Deer can be a problem, especially in suburban areas where they are often fed and treated as pets.  There are several species of wildflowers deer do not prefer.  However, if there is an over population of deer or their natural food is low then they will eat just about anything. 

    13. Annual, perennial? What does it mean?

    Domesticated Species and Exotic Garden Varieties Some of the species we offer are categorized as "Domesticated" species and are not considered native North American Wildflowers.  We also offer a few exotic garden varieties which have been genetically altered from their true wild form.  For your convenience, we have denoted the "Domesticated" species and the exotic garden varieties with the symbol D (green box) throughout the catalog.  These species will produce a beautiful display of color the first year, but in most situations will not reappear the following season. In order to achieve the same colorful display, the "Domesticated" species and exotic garden varieties will need to be replanted each year. 

    What is an Annual, Perennial, Biennial? 

    The following colored symbols are used throughout the catalog to indicate the life cycle of each variety. 

    A=Annual (blue box continuing the letter "A")

    P=Perennial (red box containing the letter "P")

    B=Biennial (yellow box containing the letter "B")

    Annuals- Plants that perform their entire life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season. All roots, stems and leaves of the plant die annually. Only the dormant seed bridges the gap between one generation and the next.

    Perennials- Plants that persist for many growing seasons.  Generally the top portion of the plant dies back each winter and regrows the following spring from the same root system (e.g. Purple Coneflower).  Many perennial plants do keep their leaves year round and offer and attractive border or groundcover (e.g. Tickseed, Shasta Daisy, Ox-Eyed Daisy).  Note: When starting perennial plants from seed, blooms will be observed in either the spring or summer of the second year and each year thereafter (e.g. Ox-Eyed Daisy planted in the spring of 1999 will not bloom until the spring of 2000).

     Biennials-Plants which require two years to complete their life cycle.  First season growth results in small rosette of leaves near the soil surface.  During the second season's growth stem elongation, flowering and seed formation occur followed by the entire plant's death.  Annual/Perennial - A plant can behave as an annual or a perennial depending on the local climatic and geographic growing conditions.  In the southern portion of the United States, these plants tend to grow much quicker than in the north due to the warmer weather and extended growing season.  For example: A Black-Eyed Susan would behave as an annual if grown in Louisiana; where as, if grown in Ohio, a Black-Eyed Susan would behave as a perennial.

    14. Why did I get poor results?

    Factors which generally cause poor results: 

    Our business is here to help you succeed with your wildflower project. The first step to your success is purchasing the highest quality seeds available on the market... and Wildseed Farms is committed to the service. Customers all over the world have grown beautiful strands of wildflowers using our seeds. Because we occasionally have customers who run into difficulty with their wildflowers success, we have outlined their most common mistakes below: 

    Impatience- Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Improper site evaluation-good drainage is a must!
  • Deep soil preparation greater than one inch in depth will unleash dormant weed seeds that will compete with your wildflowers.
  • Covering the seed too deeply beneath the soil surface.  Remember: simply rolling or walking over a newly planted area will achieve proper seed/soil contact and aid in germination.
  • Planting at the wrong time of the year.
  • Trying to cover a large area with a small amount of seed.  Recommend seeding rates listed in the catalog are important.
  • Unsuitable site conditions for the variety being planted.  A plant requiring full sun and well-drained soils will not prosper in an area that is partially shaded with heavy clay soils.
  • Not enough sunlight.  Unless indicated, your flowers will require a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Inadequate rainfall after seed germination.  The area should not be allowed to become completely dry. Supplemental watering may be required to sustain plant life.
  • Extreme weather conditions; hail, drought, excessive rainfall, floods, unseasonably cold temperatures.
  • 15. What do seedlings look like?

    For your convenience we have included an actual photograph of each wildflower seedling. This will enable you to distinguish your wildflowers from unwanted vegetation during the establishment period. The seedling photo should be used as a reference during the first 45-90 days of development following germination. Your seedlings will undergo a tremendous change in their appearance during secondary growth and stem elongation, Many of the photos will become inapplicable as the plants reach maturity. Sowing a pinch of seed in a flowerpot or cup filled with potting soil will provide you with a transportable specimen to take to the meadow for easy identification. 

    16. What are the Range Maps all about?

    Below each wildflower photograph we have reproduced a map of the continental United States.  The shaded portion of the map represents the geographic region in which the species naturally occurs or is adapted to the environmental conditions.  Most varieties are capable of being grown over a much wider area than indicated.  However, it is important to remember that the elements in nature are highly variable and the maps should be considered generalizations.