Sowing Wildflower Seeds
“All that summer Miss Rumphius, her pockets full of seeds, wandered over fields and headlands, sowing lupines.”
-Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Fields of wildflowers, along the highways of Texas in the spring, are a glorious sight. Bluebonnets, indian paintbrushes, indian blankets, verbenas, pink evening primroses, and other native wildflowers flank the roads creating a splendor of color. Thirty thousand pounds of wildflower seeds are sown every year by the Texas Department of Transportation, and in addition to being beautiful, the wildflowers help to conserve water, control erosion, and provide a habitat for wildlife. So, inspired by the beauty and function of wildflowers, we decided to create our own wildflower habitat and sow seeds on our property.
When we first moved to our homestead, we were very excited to add wildflowers to our property, so we bought many, many packets of native wildflower seeds. I noticed some areas of our property were shadier, so in those areas, we sowed shade wildflower seeds. In the areas with lots of sun, we sowed sun wildflower seeds. We were so excited to finally get started and have wildflowers. Unfortunately, naysayers told us that we did not prepare the land or pay attention to proper seeding times. Flowers were unlikely. We were certainly disappointed with our vain attempts, but not thwarted. We determined to revisit this endeavor again at the “proper” time. But then a strange thing happened. In the spring, wildflowers started sprouting. Wildflowers that we had sowed at the wrong time and in the wrong place. How was this possible? Our neighbor, who has been working for years in restoring her property to native grass and wildflowers, gave us this simple explanation, “Wildflowers are benevolent!” (Benevolent: kind-hearted and compassionate.) In the three years of planting wildflowers, we have indeed found this to be true. We have also learned a few things for the most successful wildflower sowing:
Wildflower seeds need contact with soil, but unlike vegetable seeds, you do not cover them with dirt. We aim to scatter seeds where contact with soil is possible: places with thinner spots of grass, small areas of dirt along paths and fences, and nestled among other flowers. Then, we walk on these areas to press the seeds into the dirt.
Wildflower seeds do best scattered in the late days of September before a predicted rain.
One type of seed (and not a wildflower mix) does best sown in an area all its own, so it does not need to compete with other types of seeds.
If you do not pick the wildflowers, but allow them to “go to seed,” they will sow themselves and return next year.
Find a source for native wildflower seeds for your particular area. We purchase our Texas native seeds online from Native American Seeds.
Sowing wildflower seeds is a simple way to restore land and add beauty to your surroundings. Scatter some lovely wildflower seeds native to your region and your attempts will be rewarded with kindness!