Lawn & Garden
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – A wildflower meadow bursting with blooms may seem like a spring dream, but now is the time to plant if you want one as part of your garden.
Dani Carroll, an Alabama Extension home grounds agent, said these colorful habitats are not only easy on the eyes, but they also offer a home for biodiversity.
“For the individuals that may like less lawn mowing maintenance and more wildlife watching, growing a backyard meadow is the perfect deal,” Carroll said.
According to Carroll, the wilderness of the backyard can preserve the best local flowers and encourage wildlife visitors to come to your garden.
Wildflower Meadow Benefits
Carroll offered these benefits of growing a backyard meadow.
- Borders of wild flowers near vegetable gardens are ideal for attracting pollinators such as butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.
- Planting colorful varieties of flowers in wooden barrels and clay pots near seating areas creates a pleasing conversation spot.
- Native perennials and reseeding annuals will enhance gardens with their prolific blooms and few pest and disease problems.
- Wildflower perennials will brighten a flower border with their striking beauty.
- Easily maintained wildflowers instantly makes roadsides more welcoming.
Growing a Meadow
The best times to plant seeds if you want to create a backyard wildflower meadow is in the late fall. Full sun and well-drained soil are prime conditions for optimal wildflower growth. It is important to plan accordingly to the specific wildflower seed mix.
Carroll said the biggest challenge of starting a wildflower meadow is area preparation. It is crucial to remove existing vegetation from the soil.
“Several options can be used to rid the surface of vegetation,” Carroll said. “These include manual removal, sterilization with clear plastic and even composting on top of the soil. If the correct herbicide is selected, it can also be a good option.”
To prevent seeds from washing away, cover them with a light straw.
Purchasing seed mixes containing a high percentage of wildflower species that are native to that specific area is best.
“Pay attention to the area and conditions in which the seeds will grow,” she said.
Ask wildflower seed suppliers for seed mixes that are specific to your area. Xerces is a resource for seed supplier information in the Southeast.
“Choose a mix with annuals, perennials and grasses for different bloom times, shapes and more diversity,” Carroll said.
Mixing the seeds with damp sand or a similar source helps to evenly distribute the seeds over a large area. Raking this area lightly can create good seed to soil contact.
Temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall are ideal for sowing the seeds. This allows perennials to become established for early spring bloom.
Read more about wildflowers, lawns and gardens by visiting Alabama Extension online.