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Wildflower and prairie grass seed by Prairie Frontier

Wildflower & Prairie Grass
Planting Instructions

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When to Plant
Wildflowers take more moisture than grasses to germinate. Once planted, seeds must remain moist to ensure a successful stand. Some seeds will germinate and bloom the first year, while others will not begin blooming until the second or third year.
The optimum rainfall period, severity of the winter and the dormancy of the seed will determine the most favorable time to plant wildflowers and prairie grasses in your area.
When planting in the spring, plant early when ample rainfall is anticipated. Seeds also may be planted all summer if they can be watered. When planting in fall, plant when anticipated warm weather is passed, so germination of seed is at a minimum.
Fall planting will allow the seed to over winter and sprout in the spring. This over wintering also has the effect of breaking the dormancy that some of the native seeds display. There are risks to the wintering however, late fall rains and warm spells may allow the seed to begin germination only to be killed by the winter ground freezing. Also, the longer the seeds are on the ground, the more chance there is of them being eaten by birds and rodents. Plant wildflowers the same times as prairie grasses. Select a site that receives full to partial sun and is well-drained.

Preparing the Bed
The main objective when preparing the seed bed is to provide optimum seed-to-soil contact and eliminate any undesirable plants or grasses. This can be accomplished in two ways:

  • Chemical treatment
  • Tillage treatment

Commercial herbicides are available that will eliminate the aggressive cool season sod-forming grasses. Round-up is the most popular. These grasses must be removed before planting a wildflower or prairie grass site.

A season of repeated tilling might be needed in some cases of heavy sod-forming grasses. Care must be taken to completely eliminate any cool season sod-forming grasses. Prior to planting the seed bed should be firm and free from clumps.

Sowing the Seed
A small amount of the wildflower seed goes a long way. When hand broadcasting the seed it is good to mix the seed with damp sand, sawdust, peatmoss, vermiculite, etc. to help prevent clumping and to provide even distribution. Mix the seed evenly into inert material. Use approximately 15 bushels of inert material per acre. Take one half of the total mix and spread it across the entire area. Repeat going perpendicular to the first half. Rake the seed in lightly being careful not to bury the seed too deeply. Seed should be planted no more than 1/4" deep. Roll the site with a roller to firm the seed bed. Seed-soil contact is very important. All seed will not be covered but that is normal.

Care after Planting
All seeds need water to germinate. Plantings should be kept moist during their establishment and blooming stages. Supplemental watering once a week (more often if natural rainfall is low) will help wildflowers and prairie grasses thrive and may even prolong the blooming periods of some species.
It is generally unnecessary to fertilize wildflowers and prairie grasses if they are planted in their native habitat. In fact, fertilizing may produce excessive foliage at the expense of blooms. Also fertilizing the first year may encourage more weed growth.
Weeds still need to be pulled as soon as they can be identified. Mowing also can control some weeds but the blade must clear the height of the desired wildflower seedlings.
Once an established wildflower or prairie site exists weeding is very minimal.

Ensure Reseeding
Wait to clear your wildflower garden or prairie site until all the species have gone to seed to allow reseeding. It may require some patience on your part since wildflowers tend to look rather unkempt during their final stages. We recommend mowing in spring. Most wildflower and prairie grass seeds are a natural food source for wildlife throughout the winter.

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