Wildflowers in the Home Garden


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Wildflowers in the Home Garden

  1. 1. Bulletin #43 Wildflowers in the Home GardenBecause few sights are as spectacular as a field of • Wildflower seed mixes should be formulated forwildflowers, many gardeners wish to include them in their your specific geographic region -- read the label tohome gardens. Wildflowers are see if the mix meets your growing conditions. Mixesadmired for their combination of usually contain both native and naturalized wildflowerbeauty and self-sufficiency. However, species.the most common misconception • Grasses, if added, should be the non-aggressiveabout wildflower gardening is that it is clumping grasses like sheep fescue. Another optionmaintenance-free. Like any garden, a is to use native grasses such as big bluestem, bluewildflower area will take some work. grama, buffalograss, Indian ricegrass, sandOnce established, maintenance will dropseed, lovegrass or side-oats grama withdiminish greatly but normal weeding, wildflowers. These are slower growing than fescue,tilling and watering will make the so consider combining fescues and native grasses.garden successful. • Note taking: Make a habit of taking notes about your garden. They will be invaluable as a reference later.For some, the idea of having a strictly “wildflower” garden You should note such things as pleasing colorhas been expanded to include a more integrated planting combinations, plants you want to add or subtract,of flowers and shrubs, including as many native plantings ideas from other people’s gardens, when certainas possible. Wildflowers should be mixed into your plants bloom, etc. These notes are most useful ingarden along with other selected perennials, bulbs, herbs, the winter months when planning for the next season.and flowering shrubs. Planting wildflowers alone will showa dominance of annuals the first year with the more Working with Native Wildflower Seed:persistent perennials settling into dominance. Retainingdiversity will require a bit of work but your efforts will be Note from Native Seeds/SEARCH: Gardeners shouldrewarded. Your goal as a gardener should be to create an be aware that seeds of wild plants need to be treatedeffect, choosing from as many different kinds of plant differently from those of domesticated plants. Wild plantmaterial as necessary, whether perennials, bulbs, herbs, seed may have germination inhibitors, dormancyannuals, and, of course, wildflowers. requirements, or extra-hard seed coats to insure survival of the plant. Before planting wild seeds, gardeners may find it helpful to pre-treat the seeds. Chemical inhibitorsFactors to consider: on seeds, well known on chilte pines, need to be flushed• Site location, which can determine the success or away. (One gardener found that a solution of 1 tsp. failure of your wildflower garden, should consider the vinegar to 1 cup of water worked well.) Dry seeds of amount of sunlight, what is growing now, provision of plants native to cold-winter climes may benefit from a few adequate moisture, and weeds and rocks in the area. days to weeks in the freezer. Hard seed coats can be• Soil preparation is critical for prompt germination and sanded or filed in order to promote water absorption. healthy growth of seedlings. Remove all weeds/ grasses before planting. Seed Saving and Storage• Plant in spring or fall -- late fall is best, especially if 1. Select seeds from more than one plant. seed is grown or collected locally as some native 2. Dry seeds. plants require an over-wintering period to break 3. Clean and store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. dormancy of the seed. Try to plant just prior to the rainy season if supplemental water is not available. 4. Label seeds and include crop names or variety, date grown, and source.• It is best to start small. Consider: blooming time, height, color scheme, maintenance, propagation 5. To prevent insect damage, freeze dry seeds for 5-7 methods, moisture, use of mulches, problem areas, days. This kills larvae under the seedcoat. fertilization, weed control, and reseeding. 1
  2. 2. Wildflowers in the Home Garden Bulletin #43Seed Collection: Look for indications in the fruiting the most common method of dispersing seed over astructures that hold the seed as to when the seed is ready small area. It is advisable to mix the seed with an inertfor collection. Regular and careful inspection of carrier (sand or vermiculite) at a ratio of 2:1 (sand todeveloping seed is a must. In general, when seed is seed) for more even distribution. Once distributed, thematuring, it will turn from a lighter to a darker color and seed should be covered with a minimum of 1/8 to 1/4expand in size. Collection of mature seed is critical for inches of soil, which can be achieved by lightly rakinggood germination. When broken, a mature seed will over the area. Seed cultivated too deeply will notreveal a moist white embryo inside. Be sure to place seed germinate. Finally, cover the entire area with mulch toof each wildflower species in a separate container to avoid reduce moisture loss and help protect the seeds fromcontaminating seed lots. Collecting seed from the wild birds. During the germination period it is important not torequires some planning. Plants should be marked when in let the seed bed dry out. Gardeners may find the mostflower, because often a plant looks different in fruit than in prolific method of propagation for some wildflowers to beflower. The location should be recorded to enable return the natural self-sowing process in the garden.to the exact spot to harvest the seed. If insects are foundin freshly collected seed, fumigation will be necessary. Transplanting Seedlings: Seedlings grown indoors are“No-pest strips” placed among the seed in a sealed paper ready to be transplanted when the second set of truebag and left for two weeks is effective. leaves has developed. When removing a seedling from the flat, avoid contact with the stem and roots. Grasp aSeed Cleaning: After collection, seed should be cleaned leaf with one hand and with the other hand pry under theright away. Some seed can be air dried for 1 to 2 days seedling with a wooden label or popsicle stick. Loosenand the seeds will disperse from the capsules, whereas the roots and remove the plant. A thorough wateringsome seed will need to be shaken free from the capsules prior to transplanting will ease removal. Generally, a 3-after drying. Other seed, that is tiny and difficult to extract, inch container is the next step for the seedling. Set therequires that the capsule be crushed and worked through seedling into a hole large enough to accommodate thea sieve to separate the seed. Fleshy seed coats should roots and at the same level at which the plant wasbe removed. Seed contained in larger capsules can be growing in the seed flat. Gently firm the soil at the baseeasily removed by splitting open the capsule. of the seedling. (Tall, thin seedlings can be planted slightly deeper for stability.) Seedlings will benefit from aSeed Storage: Plan to store the seed immediately weekly application of a general purpose fertilizer, appliedfollowing cleaning. The condition of the seed (dry or at half-strength for several weeks after transplanting.moist) is a clue as to how the seed should be stored. Dry Seedlings are ready to be moved into the garden when aseed should be stored dry in an air tight container. Moist vigorous root system has developed and danger of frostseed should be ‘stratified’ or layered in a moist medium, is past.such as whole-fiber spagnum moss, and placed in an airtight container. Containers of seed should be labeled and Transplanting and Establishing New Plants in theplaced in the refrigerator for the winter months. Home Garden: Select the proper location for new plants. Consult the cultivation instructions for specifics.Seed Sowing: Seed can be sown indoors in late winter or Container material is best transplanted on a cloudy daydirectly into a seed bed outdoors in the fall or in spring or late in the afternoon on a clear day. (If transplantingwhen the danger of frost is past. If sowing indoors, a well- cannot be carried out soon, protect plants from the sundrained seed mix, such as equal parts of peat moss, and keep them watered.) Transplants should go directlyvermiculite, and sand should be used. Commercial seed into prepared garden soil. A transplant should be plantedmixes are also available at local garden centers. Select a at the same level as it was growing in the pot. Many ofcontainer large enough to spread seeds out evenly. Tiny the plants may be pot-bound. It is important to break upseed can be broadcast on the surface of the seed mix. the root mass in order to allow the roots freedom to growLarger seed should be covered with an amount of soil into their new environment. Firm the soil around thetwice the size of the seed. Freshly sown seed is best plant; water thoroughly, and mulch.watered from below, i.e. immerse the seed flat in a shallowpan of water until the surface of the soil is moist. Place Post-planting/Sowing Care: Supplemental water shouldthe seed flat in a warm (70-75 degrees F) location and be given during dry months. Once established, thecover with clear plastic or a glass panel to retain moisture. amount of water given to wildflowers can be graduallyAs the seedlings develop, the cover may be removed a reduced. If well adapted to the area, the wildflowers willlittle more each day to gradually adjust the plant to lower survive drought periods without supplemental water.humidity. However, for longer and showier blooming periods, 1/2- inch water a week is recommended except during theSeeds sown outdoors in the fall or spring should be in rainy season. Weeding may be necessary for the firstprepared seed beds of fine soil and covered with a wire two years. Once the nights have cooled down and themesh for protection against rodents. Hand broadcasting is flowers have declined (fall), mowing of the wildflower 2
  3. 3. Wildflowers in the Home Garden Bulletin #43garden will simultaneously scatter ripened seed and add a (Salvia columbariae); Bluebells (Phacelialayer of organic mulch. Your mower should be set at 4 to campanularia); Desert Verbena (Vebena goodingii).6 inches for best results. Wildflowers tend to prefer soil of • For Bedding Plants: Daisy (Chrysanthemumlow fertility, so the addition of fertilizers is not generally leucanthemum); Purple Coneflower (Echinaceanecessary. Older wildflower gardens produce fewer purpurea); Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea); Baby Blueflowers due to nutrient depletion. In this case, a fertilizer Eyes (Nemophila insignis); Iceland (Papaverwith a 5-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and nudicaule) and Flanders (Papaver rhoeas) Poppy.potassium should correct any deficiencies. • For Red/White/Blue: Red/Blue Flax (Linum grandiflorum ‘rubrum’/Linum lewisii); BluebellsWildflowers to Consider for Specific Themes: (Phacelia campanularia); Scarlet Gilia/Skyrocket• Hummingbirds: Beardtongues (Penstemon spp.); (Gilia aggregata); Daisy (Chrysanthemum Columbine (Aquilegia spp.); Red Sage (Salvia leucanthemum). coccinea) (Stachys coccinea); Skyrocket (Gilia spp.); • For Beginners: Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus sp.); Scarlet Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis); Lupines (Lupinus Flax (Linum grandiflorum ‘rubrum’); California spp.); Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja integra); Toadflax (Linaria maroccana); Beebalms (Monarda spp.); Aloes Poppy (Eschscholzia mexicana); Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia); Desert Coreopsis (Aloe spp.); Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens); and (Coreopsis bigelovii); Mexican Evening Primrose Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis). (Oenothera berlandier).• Butterflies: Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.); Buckwheats • For Master Gardeners: Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja (Eriogonum spp.); Beebalm and Mints (Monarda integra); Butterfly Weed or Butterfly Milkweed spp.); Yarrow (Achillea spp.); Parsley and Passion (Asclepias tuberosa); Sundrops (Oenothera Vine (Passiflora sp.). tetragona); Monkeyflower (Mimulus spp.); Bluedicks• Birds: Chia (Salvia (Dichelostemma pulchellum). columbariae); Prickly Pear • For Shade: Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii); (Opuntia spp.); Sunflower Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum); Five Spot (Helianthus spp.) and many (Nemophila maculata); Chinese Houses (Collinsia species of grasses. For shelter heterophylla); Toadflax (Linaria maroccana); and nesting consider Wolfberry Delphinium (Delphinium spp.); Larkspur (Consolida (Lycium pallidum); Barberry ambigua); Beebalms (Monarda spp.); Scarlet Gilia/ (Berberis spp.); Sumacs (Rhus Skyrocket (Gilia spp.); Columbine (Aquilegia spp.); spp.); Cat-Claw Acacia (Acacia greggii); Hackberry Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea); Scarlet Sage (Celtis reticulata); Quailbush (Atriplex lentiformis); (Salvia coccinea). Saltbush (Atriplex canescens); Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa); Cholla (Opuntia spp.); Desert Coreoposis • For Summer: Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa); (Coreopsis bigelovii). Coneflower (Echinacea spp.); Sunflower (Helianthus spp.); Golden Fleece (Dyssodia pentachaeta); Desert• Children: Devil’s Claw (Proboscidea spp.); Marigold (Baileya multiradita); Desert Senna (Cassia Bubblegum Plant (Agastache cana); Chocolate Flower covesii); Firewheel (Gaillardia aristada); Summer (Berlandiera lyrata); Five Spot (Nenophila maculata); Poppy (Papaver rhoeas); Blackfoot Daisy Mexican Hat (Ratibia columnifera); Sunflower (Melampodium cinereum); Chocolate Flower (Helianthus spp.) Hopi Black Dye; Watermelon (Berlandiera lyrata); Sacred Datura (Datura (Citrullus lanatus) Tohono O’odham Yellow. meteloides); Red Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus).• Containers: Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia • Partners: Owl Cover (Orthocarpus purpurascens) rotundifolia); Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia); and Bladderpod (Lesquerella gordoni); Plains Poppy (Papaver nudicaule and rhoeas); Tidy Tips Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) and Blanketflower (Layia platglossa). (Gaillardia spp.); Scarlet Gilia (Gilia aggregata) and• Night Garden: Tufted Primrose (Oenothera Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum); Desert caespitosa); Angel’s Trumpets (Mirabilis longiflora); Senna (Cassis covesii) and Blanketflower (Gaillardia Sundrops (Oenothera tetragona); Yucca (Yucca spp.); spp.); Pineleaf Penstemon (Penstemon pinifloious) Pale Blue Trumpets (Ipomopsis longiflora). and Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora); Mexican Evening Primrose (Oenothera berlandieri (speciosa))Wildflower Combinations to Consider: and Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata); California• For Spring: Penstemon (Penstemon spp.); Poppy (Eschschozia mexicana) and Lupines Bladderpod (Lesquerella gordoni); Owl Clover (Lupinus succulentus); Indian Paintbrush and blue (Orthocarpus purpurascens); California Poppy grama grass. (Eschscholzia mexicana); Globemallow (Sphaeralcea laxa or ambigua); Bluedicks (Dichelostemma pulchellum); Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa); Chia 3
  4. 4. Wildflowers in the Home Garden Bulletin #43Wildflower Conservation Guidelines Source of Seeds:Let all your acts reflect your respect for wild plants as • Applewood Seed Co., 5380 Vivian St., Arvada, COintegral parts of natural landscapes. Remember that 80002, (303) 431-7333, http://every time you pick a flower or disturb a patch of www.applewoodseed.com. Quality seed with 98%wildflowers, your action affects the natural world and that purity with no noxious weeds. All mixtures contain athe cumulative effect of the actions of many people can be high percentage of perennials to annuals and areparticularly harmful. blended to give the widest possible range of colors and blooming periods. Has wildflower sod; eachWhen photographing wildflowers or inspecting them carpet is 10X20" of densely packed 3" high hardyclosely, take care not to disturb the surrounding perennial wildflower plants with no annuals orvegetation. Trampling can damage nearby seedlings or grasses included.roots. • Granite Seed, 1697 W. 2100 North, Lehi, UT 84043, (801) 768-4422; http://www.graniteseed.com. OffersReport unlawful collection of plants to proper authorities a diverse selection of native and domesticated(Arizona State Department of Agriculture at 602-542-3292) grasses, turf grasses, wildflowers and shrubs,and when necessary, remind others that collecting plants including obscure and hard-to-find species. Specialtyor disturbing natural areas is illegal. DO NOT dig or take of custom blending seed mixes to customer’scuttings from native plants in the wild except as part of a specifications.project to rescue plants from sites were they would • Native Seeds/SEARCH -- Non-profit, seed bank ofotherwise be destroyed. Remember to have the traditional domesticated crops and their wild andlandowner’s consent and the proper permits. No plants weedy relatives native to the U.S. Southwest andshould be removed from parts of a site that will be left Northwest Mexico. The Native Seeds/SEARCHundisturbed. encourages farmers and gardeners to continue to plant and use the traditional crops within the region toBefore obtaining plants or seeds of wild species for your which they are native and to foster habitat protectionhome landscape, learn enough about their cultural of wild useful plants. Members in the organizationrequirement to be sure you can provide a suitable habitat. receive a quarterly newsletter which contains recipes,If you collect seeds from the wild, collect a few seeds from previews workshops and other special events,each of many plants and only from common species that gardening tips, book reviews, and feature articles onare locally abundant. Collect only the seeds or fruits Native American farmers and crops. Members alsowithout harming the rest of the plant. Always leave receive a 10% discount on all items sold. Associatesufficient seed numbers for the plant population to reseed membership starts at $25/year. To become aitself. Buy seeds only from companies that collect member or to order a seed catalog ($1.00) contactresponsibly. Buy plants of native species only from the organization at 526 N. 4th Ave, Tucson, AZorganizations or individuals that propagate their own 85705, (520) 622-5561.plants or that purchase from those who propagate them. • S & S Seeds, P.O. Box 1275, Carpinteria, CA 93014-Ask the seller about the origin of the plants. If the seller is 1275, (805) 684-0436; http://www.ssseeds.com. Hasunable to tell you a plant’s origin, don’t purchase it. production fields and extensive collections of native plant seed; offers more than 900 plant speciesIf you pick wildflowers, dried seed stalks, or greens for including wildflowers, native and reclamationhome decoration, use only common species that are grasses, trees, shrubs, and native plants; can designabundant at the site. Leave enough flowers or seeds to particular seed mixes; specializes in California nativeallow the plant population to reseed itself. Do not pick seeds; wholesale company.herbaceous perennials that need to retain their vegetative • Seed Savers Exchange, 3094 N. Winn Road,parts to store energy for next year’s development. Do not Decorah, Iowa 52101, (563) 382-5990; http://cut slow-growing plants for Christmas wreaths or other www.seedsavers.org. Good source of heirloomdecorations. varieties and an exchange for seed savers (members write directly to each other). Membership ($35)Because it is important to protect information about the includes availability of more than 11,000 rarelocation of rare species, should you discover a plant varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains. Flower andspecies that you know or suspect is rare, report the site to Herb membership also available ($10).responsible conservation officials as soon as possible. 4
  5. 5. Wildflowers in the Home Garden Bulletin #43• Seeds Blum, Contact Victory Seed So, P.O. Box 192, For More Information: Molalla, Oregon 97038, 503-829-3126; http:// The New Seed Starter’s Handbook, Nancy Bubel, 1988. www.victoryseeds.com. Heirloom varieties plus good How to start and grow seedlings in great detail of more information on seed collection. than 200 plants. A whole chapter on seed saving; source• Wild Seed is a collaboration of individuals and the lists for seeds and gardening supplies. $18.95 (paper) Southwest plant kingdom dedicated to providing quality native seed for trees, shrubs, grasses, Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for succulents, and wildflowers. Wild Seed offers over Vegetable Gardeners, Suzanne Ashworth, 1991. Seed 250 species of seed throughout the world to promote Savers Exchange bible of seed-saving techniques, edited the use of native seed. Wild Seed can be reached at by Kent Whealy and illustrated with black and white PO Box 27751, Tempe, AZ 85285, (602) 345-0669. photos by David Cavagnaro. $24.95 (paper).• Wildflowers International, Inc., 918-B Enterprise Way, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 253-0570. Wholesale; Saving Seeds: The Gardener’s Guide to Growing and specializes in custom-designed seed mixtures native Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds, Marc Rogers, to a particular region but also supplies individual 1990. An easy to understand text on seed saving and varieties and standard mixtures. In developing growing vegetables and flowers from seed. Includes an custom mixtures they consider climate and soil overview of basic concepts and a species-by-species conditions; blooming patterns; annuals and account of what to do. $12.95 (paper). perennials; and various color/height combinations.Updated August 1, 2007http://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai The University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities. 5