Preparation of Wildflower Site - Knowledgebase Question

Honeoye Falls, NY
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Question by sweitzer
November 2, 1997
I had a beautiful wildflower patch in 1996. In the spring
of 1997 I weeded it and reseeded. I had some blossoms, but
the results were dissapointing in comparison to the previous

Is there anything I can do to prepare the site for a fresh
spring planting? I am afraid that the weeds that were in the patch have gone to seed and I am unsure of the best
approach to kill them off for a spring re-seeding.

Also, can you recommend a good mix that will produce lots
of color. I have a nice sunny spot with rich well drained soil.

Answer from NGA
November 2, 1997
You might want to rototill the entire area and start over, especially if you are concerned with weed infestation. You can till this fall, then, if it's feasible, cover the area with a thick layer of leaves to protect it from erosion. Till again earlynext spring, and the area should be ready for reseeding. (Or if fall tilling isn't practical, you can just wait until spring to till.)

Some of the considerations for wildflower plantings are:

1. The balance of annuals to perennials--your first year you may have had great success with the annual varieties, but when it was time for the perennials to take over the 2nd year, they were less successful.

2. The proportion of flower seed vs. grasses in the mix--many wildflower mixes contain a relatively large percentage of grass seed. This grass can really take over a planting. It's best to use a 100% wildflower mix--it's more expensive, but you'll get more flowers. Plenty of grass will find its way into your flowers anyway.

3. Start with a weed-free site. Flowers can't compete with fast-growing weed seed.

4. Choose a regional mix that suits your climate.

A good wildflower meadow should last for several years (or more). The only real maintenance should be an annual mowing, just after the first frost, to knock down brush and scatter seeds.

There are lots of companies that sell wildflower seed mixes; one is The Vermont Wildflower Farm, PO Box 5, Charlotte, VT 05445, ph# 802/425-3931. They sell a northeast mix, as well as specialized mixes; for example, a cut-flower mix. Also single species so you can add extra seed of your favorite flowers. They will also provide instructions on how to best maintain your meadow.

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