Wildflowers are valuable habitat, nesting sites for birds and provide floral resources for moths, bees and butterflies. You can plant native perennials and grass on a large piece of land and enjoy a succession of flowers and foliage throughout the year.
Wildflowers will not require a lot of maintenance once they are in the ground. When planting wildflower seeds over a large area, it is best to do it on the onset of the wet season, so that seedlings will benefit from the rainfall.
Follow these steps to grow wildflowers in a large field by:
1. Choose your site
Choose a planting site that is fully exposed to the sun and has good drainage. Choose the location with the correct mix of sunlight exposure and fertile soils in order to ensure a sustainable field. Your site should have at least minimum six hours of exposure to sunlight.
Did you know you could grow wildflowers in pots?
2. Till your land and eliminate weeds
Use a tractor or rototiller to turn over the soil slightly, and get rid of existing weeds and grass. This brings poor subsoil to the surface and buries the richer topsoil to provide a good foundation for germination in addition to aerating the soil. You may also choose to plant wildflowers without tilling.
You can also kill the existing vegetation by smothering with black plastic covering to prevent sunlight from reaching weeds and grass, which prevents photosynthesis and thus affects their survival. In hot arid areas, you can use solarization, which involves covering bare moist soil with clear plastic from June to September (summer in the northern hemisphere). The goal is to trap solar radiation and raise the temperature of the soil to kill weeds.
Planting wildflowers needs to be tailored to the land and climatic conditions.
3. Seed your land
Make sure you remove growth and debris on the ground to allow the seeds to grow well without competing for space and nutrients.
Estimate the area you want to plant your wildflower seeds to determine the quantity you will have to use to create good coverage. You can plant at a seeding rate of 0.5 pounds per 1000 square feet of your field.
You can spread the seeds randomly over your field but you have to ensure they maintain contact with the soil. Plant during fall in colder winters to ensure that seasonal rains will facilitate germination. Spring planting is recommended for warmer regions.
Seeding a large area will require the use of a mechanical seeder. It is important to calibrate your seeder with a carrier such as rice husks before mixing any seed. Mix small batches of seed with the carrier to ensure it is well propagated through the land.
The carrier should remain dry as it will prevent seeds from feeding properly. Ideally, you should mix your seeds with an inert carrier such as sand. Use 8 cups of the carrier to 1 cup of seed for better success. When planting wildflowers over a large area there is a high possibility that tiny seeds will be deposited into the ground first, which might affect their chances of germination. Ensure your seeder adequately mixes the seeds and carrier for better chances at survival.
Lightly compress the seeds into the soil to ensure they get good contact with the ground. Use a seed roller as a tractor attachment or push it along the ground. Compression will ensure that the moisture in the ground reaches the seed and helps to anchor the wildflower root systems in a good spot.
Annual wildflowers typically bloom within 6-12 weeks, while perennials will require over a full season of growth to establish strong root systems and bloom during their second seasons. Within 1-3 weeks you will begin to observe seedlings sprouting, depending on the varieties you selected for your farm.
4. Water your wildflowers
Wildflowers are low maintenance but require a lot of water in the initial stages of germination. Ensure the soil is kept moist until around 4-6 weeks when the seedlings are fully established. If you live in a wet area, regular rainfall can keep your soil wet. However, if you live in a dry area, you should install a sprinkler system for irrigation.
For weed control do not use herbicides or other chemicals as they may negatively impact the plants and small animals that depend on them. It is not feasible to uproot weeds manually in a large farm. You can leave your garden to grow naturally and let your wildflower compete with the weeds. You can plant a few seeds of each wildflower variety in a pot or small bed, to identify how they look like compared to weeds.
5. Mow your wildflowers
At the end of the season, mow your wildflowers at the appearance of the first frost. Use a mower or weed trimmer over the whole area. The green matter will act as a mulch which helps to raise the fertility of the soil. You can also choose to leave the land untouched to allow it to develop into a habitat for local wildlife.
How to determine the best wildflower seeds for your farm.
Understand the characteristics under which each species thrives. These are the main factors to consider when choosing wildflower seeds:
Plant sun-loving plants in areas with adequate exposure to sunlight and shade-loving plants close to trees or bushy hedges.
2. Soil types
Most wildflower seeds are tolerant of different soil pH conditions.
Wildflower seeds need moisture for germination and growth. Drainage is good to facilitate timely sprouting.
Wildflowers are good groundcovers, food sources for certain animals and act as habitat. Scatter your seeds using a mechanical seeder and ensure that it is supported by a neutral carrier. In a large piece of land, you will not have to do a lot of maintenance, as your wildflower garden will blend in with nature. It is important to plant wildflowers that are suitable for your climatic and soil conditions for the best results.