Beepods Bee Friendly Wildflower Seed Mix
For vegetable and fruit gardeners, planting flowers with your vegetables in your garden beds is a great way to attract beneficial pollinators—increasing vegetable yields and plant health. This Bee Friendly Mix is a great, easy addition to any garden, featuring flowers such as Purple Coneflower, Cosmos, and California Poppy. Simply rake seed into soil, water, and enjoy!
Determine your soil type: Each soil type will require preparation, but sandy and clay soils may require additional care and steps.
- SANDY SOIL dries out quickly, may be low in nutrients and have a low pH. Be prepared to add supplemental water to germinate your wildflower seed planting unless you plant before the rainy season. Adding additional organic matter, such as composted yard wastes, will increase the soil's water holding capacity as well as available nutrients. Mulching your planting with weed-free straw after seeding will also help the soil to retain moisture for germination and establishment. If you do not choose to add organic matter, a soil test will help you determine whether adding a low-nitrogen fertilizer and lime will be necessary.
- LOAMY SOIL contains more organic matter than both sandy soil or clay soil and therefore retain adequate moisture while providing necessary drainage. These soils are the easiest to prepare for seeding and provide an excellent site for your planting.
- CLAY SOIL is heavier than sandy or loamy soils. It retains water easily, but does not allow proper drainage for most wildflowers. If it dries out during a hot summer, it becomes hard and prevent roots from penetrating deeply into the soil. Clay soils generally contain sufficient nutrients, but benefit from added organic matter to increase drainage. Another method of adding organic matter to the soil is to plant a 'green manure' crop such as buckwheat or winter wheat. Plow this crop under while actively growing to incorporate the roots, stems and leaves into the soil. As they break down they will enrich the soil and add organic matter in one step.
Remove existing vegetation. Reducing competition for space, light, moisture and soil nutrients is essential to the success of your planting. This can be done by smothering, mechanical removal or by using herbicides.
- SMOTHERING: Vegetation on small areas can be effectively killed, along with dormant weed seeds in the top several inches of soil, by covering the area with black plastic. The increased soil temperatures will kill weed seeds, while the lack of light and moisture will kill existing vegetation. For the full effect, leave the plastic in place for a full growing season.
- CULTIVATION: Using this technique alone will require repeated passes, at 2-3 week intervals, preferably with supplemental water, over a full season to be effective. This is because each tilling will bring to the surface more dormant weed seeds. Also beware of creating erosion control problems on your site with extensive cultivation.
- HERBICIDES: Using herbicides such as non-persisting glyphosate types (i.e. Roundup, Ranger or Kleenup) will usually require two applications 3-4 weeks apart to kill the existing vegetation. After the first application, wait for the weeds to die back. Then remove them by cutting, weed whipping and raking. If you will be broadcasting the seed over your site, prepare the seed bed with a shallow tilling and water (or wait for rain). When the next crop of weeds appear, apply the herbicide again, wait for it to act on the plants and then remove the dead vegetation again with a minimum of soil disturbance.
Because wildflower seed mixtures contain seeds of vastly different sizes, blending an inert carrier like fine sand or vermiculite with the seed will help to insure an even distribution (4:1 sand to seed is recommended).
For small areas, hand broadcasting the seed along with the inert carrier will work quite well. For larger areas, mechanical seeding such as a cyclone-type seeder, a Brillion seeder or a no-till seed drill work well, but tests must be made in order to achieve the proper planting rate with each type of machine.
Once the seed has been planted, it must be covered to a maximum depth of 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch. This can be achieved by lightly raking the seed in with a hand rake for small areas, or by using a drag mat behind a tractor for larger areas. If a drill seeder is used, firm the soil after drilling with a cultipacker to insure proper seed/soil contact.
Care must be taken not to cover the seeds too deeply as this is one of the primary causes for project failure. On hillsides or other relatively inaccessible areas, hydro mulching is an effective technique for planting. If a single application of seed and mulch is used, it is advisable to double the seeding rate per acre because some of the seed becomes suspended in the fiber and doesn't make proper contact with the soil.
An alternative method is to apply the seed with 10% of the fiber in a first application, followed by the remainder of the fiber in a second application. If this two part method is used, plant the mix at the normal seeding rate. It is also important to note that the time seed spends in the tank should be kept to a minimum because over-circulation of the seed in the hydro-mulching machine can damage the seed.
Weeds left uncontrolled will quickly take over any wildflower planting. Removal of weeds during the initial site preparation (described in the Site Preparation section above) must be followed by regular weed removal in order to protect the longevity of the planting.
Once germination of the wildflower species has begun, newly appearing weeds, when they are large enough to be safely identified (and before they go to seed), should be pulled, spot sprayed with herbicide or cut with a string trimmer. Expect to do this once per month for the first year.
Overseeding with the originally planted mix or an all-annuals mix in the fall or early spring will help to fill in the bare spots and keep weeds from infiltrating. The following season, this increased plant density resulting from newly seeded wildflowers, along with the dense root mass formed by the cool and warm season perennials grasses (if used) will help reduce the incursion of fast growing annual and persistent perennial weeds.
The planting must be kept moist for 4-6 weeks, using supplemental water if necessary in order to ensure germination of as many wildflower species as possible. As the planting becomes established, water can be gradually reduced. Many wildflowers are drought tolerant once established, but must receive adequate water in order to germinate and to become established. You should begin to see seedlings within 2 weeks and the first flowers in 6-8 weeks. As the season progresses, several waves of color will be seen according to the blooming times of the species contained in the mixture. In dry climates or in drought conditions, 1/2 inch of supplemental irrigation per week will lengthen the blooming period of the wildflower display.
Once the planting has stopped flowering and set seed, it can be mowed to a height of 4-6 inches. In most climates, this will be in mid-October. Mowing will help to scatter the ripe seeds for next year's showing.
After fall mowing or early the following spring, consider supplementing the site with some new seed in order to more firmly establish the permanence of the planting and to suppress weed growth.