On Wednesday I got to sit in on another great Rainbow Gardens seminar and decided to offer you all a little recap. Today’s seminar was on planting wildflowers in San Antonio. Laura Jarvis walked attendees through the steps needed to successfully sow wildflower seeds. While I can’t offer you all the freebies the attendees received, like packets of wildflower seeds and a tour of our Bandera butterfly garden to see some of the wildflowers in action, I can offer you the planting steps for success.
The best time to plant wildflowers in San Antonio is fall! October and November are the ideal months for city dwellers and that means now! Read our steps for success below and then come pick up one of our specially blended seed mixes (pollinator mix, or native mix) or browse the racks for individual packets of wildflower seeds. We’ve got you covered.
7 Steps for Planting Wildflowers in San Antonio
- Choose a very sunny site.
- Prep area before planting wildflower seeds.
- Soak soil before planting seeds.
- Scatter wildflower seeds in two directions.
- Soil contact is key, tamp down seeds.
- Water seeds according to rainfall.
- Enjoy wildflowers and all the pollinators that visit.
Wildflower Seed Planting Details
1. Choose a very sunny site. Most wildflower seeds need sun to germinate, and grow. We suggest a site with a minimum of 8 hours of full sunshine.
2. Prep area before planting wildflower seeds. Many people think they can throw wildflower seeds out into the garden or yard and that’s all that is needed. Not so fast. You may get some seeds to sprout, but you will have more success if you do a little prep. (Not too much though…read on).
Wildflowers planted in areas where turf or weeds exist have to compete to grow. Tall blades of turf or lanky weeds can literally throw shade on your seeds and prevent them from receiving the sunlight they need in order to germinate.
To prep: Set your mower on the lowest setting and mow the area as short as you can. What you are trying to do is expose some soil for your seeds to settle in to.
You can lightly rake the area, but there is no need to rake any deeper than 1″ down. You don’t want to disturb any dormant weed seeds that lie any deeper below the soil.
3. Soak soil before planting seeds. This is an extra tip that Laura Jarvis offered our seminar attendees and I really see how this would be beneficial. By giving your prepped area a deep soak, you are offering your wildflower seeds the best start. The moist soil will help the seeds germinate and also speed up the growth of your wildflowers.
4. Scatter your wildflower seeds in a couple of directions. Imagine you are feeding chickens and scatter half of your seeds across the area in one direction. Then turn perpendicular and scatter the other half of your seeds. This ensures an even application and eliminates any large, vacant patches.
5. Soil contact is key. Tamp down seeds. The biggest mistake (besides timing and lack of sun) that people make when planting wildflower seeds is not getting good soil contact. This is imperative for success, but DO NOT get it confused with burying your seeds in the soil. The seeds do not need that. You can achieve good soil contact just by walking across the area that you just seeded a couple of times. As a matter of fact, many of the seeds will be visible on top of the soil and that is okay. (For larger areas of wildflower plantings, like acres, a rollerpacker might be easier to tamp your seeds down, but in most wildflower gardens in home landscapes, just tamping them down with your boots is sufficient.)
6. Water your seeds after planting and then according to rainfall. Wildflowers will generally germinate with natural rainfall, but if we have an exceptionally dry October and November, you’ll need to offer some supplemental irrigation. That presoak you did before planting will give your seeds the moist environment they do best in, but you will need to make sure they stay moist for the next 4-6 weeks for best success. Moist does not mean drenched. Light, frequent watering to make sure the soil is not drying out may be needed daily if there is no rain. Once your seeds germinate, your watering can ease up. See our Wildflower Planting Guide for some extra watering details.
7. Enjoy the wildflowers and all the pollinators that come visit. This isn’t really a step, but it’s enjoying the fruits of your labor. Enjoy watching the seeds germinate. Enjoy the first bloom on your first homegrown wildflower. Enjoy watching the butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and birds swoop in to feast on all the nectar and seeds your wildflowers provide. Enjoy knowing that you just contributed to the sustainability of our local wildlife.
~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy