The Q&A Archives: Wildflower Recommendations

Question: We have a 700-foot driveway that is lined by grass and then goes into just a wild field on each side. We would like to put a 18-inch (rototiller size) path of wildflowers between the real grass and scrub. Do you have any suggestions for seeds that will come up every year? I've purchased small mixes of wildflowers before, but they never seem to really take off. I would prefer my own combination of hardy, long-lasting seeds.

Answer: It can be difficult to establish a wildflower garden by using a seed mix unless you have carefully prepared the soil (based on soil test results) and are willing to weed the area while the plants are becoming established. In addition, many perennials take two seasons to reach blooming size. Watering also is important, especially if the first year is very dry. Many gardeners find it more satisfactory in the long run to start such a project with small plants that can be easily mulched to inhibit the competing weeds and grasses.

A few possible plants to consider would be black-eyed Susans, achillea, gaillardia, cosmos, purple coneflower, boltonia, Joe-Pye weed, and the naturalized or hybridized daylilies. No matter which method and which plants you use, be sure to have your soil tested and then add amendments based on the results, along with copious amounts of organic matter, such as compost, well-rotted manure/bedding, chopped leaves, and so on.

Your county extension office should be able to help you with taking soil tests and interpreting the results, as well as possibly suggesting wildflowers known to do particularly well in your area.

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