Some Frequently Asked Questions
- Will my wildflowers choke out the weeds?
- What do I do when my wildflowers are finished blooming?
- Can I save my own seed for next year's planting?
- Do Oriental poppies produce opium?
- Is there a perennial that we can plant in the spring and have it bloom all year long?
- How do I plant wildflower seed?
- Can wildflowers be planted among grasses or other weeds?
- How long will it take before I have actual flowers?
- How do I get rid of the weeds in my wildflowers?
- How long will my wildflowers remain in bloom?
- Do my wildflowers need fertilizer?
- When is the best time to plant wildflower seeds?
- Where can I get more help?
- Clyde Robin. Wildflowers generally don't choke out anything, except themselves when they are planted too heavily. If the "weeds" in question are grasses, then the answer is quite simple. Grass will always win the battle, as it is much more aggressive. When wildflowers are planted into existing vegetation, that plant material is already rooted and well established. Your wildflower seed needs to sprout, and establish itself. All the while, the existing material is continuing to grow. Once sprouted, the tiny shoots are looking up at tall competition. It's always best to plant into clean, weed free soil. Should you plant and have grasses emerge along with your wildflowers, don't despair! You can spray the area with "Grass Getter" which will kill the grass, but not harm your wildflowers.
- Clyde Robin. Once your flowers have finished blooming, they will normally start to dry up and set their seed for the following year. If you wait till the seed has matured, it will replenish your garden for fresh flowers in the spring. You can check to see if the seed pods are mature by opening one or two of them. If the seeds are brownish or black, or if they have started to harden up, they are OK for cutting. Once cut, you can just leave them on the ground. The pods will open naturally and dump their seed out.
- Clyde Robin. Only if the plants are species, not hybrid. A
hybrid variety (sometimes marked F1) yields seeds that will produce
plants with less hybrid vigor and with fewer characteristics of the
hybrid seed originally planted. Our wildflower seeds are not hybrids.
If your plants are not hybrids, there isn't a reason why you can't save seed over from year to year and grow your own. Sometimes that's the only way you can perpetuate the species. Commercial seed vendors may not handle the variety you like, and often you cannot buy old-fashioned or heirloom varieties.
- Clyde Robin. If I had a dollar every time I have been asked this question . . . .! Well needless to say, the Oriental poppy is not the same as the Opium poppy. They are greatly different even though they both originated in the Mediterranean region. The Oriental poppy is a perennial (it comes up automatically each year), whereas the Opium poppy is an annual (it must be planted each year). The Oriental poppy has no narcotic properties and may be grown anywhere, and cultivation of the opium poppy is strictly controlled in the United States as well as in many other countries.
- Clyde Robin. There's no such thing. If you want a long show you must plant several different kinds of perennials for a succession of blooms. You'll need to plan it so when one fades out, another comes into bloom.
- Clyde Robin. Wildflowers are easy from seed. If seed is to
be spring planted, first find an area that receives full sun most of
the day. Remove the weeds. (Try Grass
Getter®.) Rough up the soil to a depth of not more
than two inches. Evenly apply the seed you have purchased over the prescribed
area being careful not to plant too much seed on a small plot.
Follow the planting recommendations included with your seed. Once your seed has been planted you may cross rake to mix the seed into the top ½ inch of soil. Keep the area moist for the next 2-3 weeks. This last step is probably the most important one. Don't let your seed bed dry out during the day. If you are having rains, let the rains keep it moist, otherwise you will need to make sure it receives enough moisture.
- Clyde Robin. Your wildflower seed will not survive among grasses or other weeds,even if they are small at the time of planting. Wildflowers take between 14-21 days to germinate. In that time, small grass will have grown considerably. For best results, remove all grass and weeds prior to planting your seed. (We offer an excellent grass herbicde--try Grass Getter®.)
Clyde Robin. All plants fall into one of two categories. They are either narrow leaf or broad leaf in composition. All wildflowers are considered "broad leaf" plants.
It has been our experience that grasses cause the most difficulty in planting wildflowers. They are fast growing and often out-compete the lesser aggressive wildflowers for space and sunlight. Grasses fall into the "narrow leaf" category of plant material and can be dealt with by using what is called a selective herbicide (one that selects which plants to eliminate). When correctly applied it will eliminate the narrow leaf plants and not harm the broad leaf plants.
One selective herbicide which we have found highly successful is Grass Getter®. We use it and we can therefore recommend it to you. Follow directions carefully and you should easily eliminate the grasses from your wildflower planting.
- Clyde Robin. Generally, wildflowers take between 14-21 days to germinate. Once germinated, wildflowers take another 45-60 days before first blooms.
- Clyde Robin. Your wildflowers will remain blooming as long as there is sufficient soil moisture for them. If you live in an arid area, you will need to provide some summer water. In more temperate zones, your flowers will not require much water until late summer. Watch them carefully. When they start to show signs of stress it is time to give a little water.
- Clyde Robin. As a general rule, they do not require fertilizer. Most fertilizers contain nitrogen which will only cause the plant to produce more foliage. If you want to fertilize, pay particular attention to the formulation which is always printed on the package. The N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potash) should read something like 10-60-10. It is the Phosphorous which produces healthy and large blooms. "Bloom Plus", a Schultz product, is most likely available at your local nursery. It has a formulation similar to the one suggested.
- Clyde Robin. In temperate zones, it is best to plant in the fall just prior to the first rains. In areas that get hard winter freezes it is best to wait until the spring and after danger of heavy frost has passed. .
Clyde Robin. Once your flowers have finished blooming you can cut them down. Before cutting however, make sure that they have "gone to seed". Look inside the flower part of the plant and see if you can detect tiny seeds. Some flowers will make seed capsules, others will just set seed inside the flower head itself. The seed should be starting to darken in color and should have some hardness to it. If these conditions are present it is time to cut them down.
The following season, the perennials will return normally from the root establishment as well as some small seed set. The annuals will return from seed which was produced the first year. In some harsh climates or in areas which have short growing seasons, the annual varieties may not have time to mature before a killing frost. If you live in one of the colder zones you may need to re-seed with annuals each spring to replicate first year color.
Clyde Robin. Please try our own Discussion Group where we answer questions every business day. If we can't help you, there are a lot of resources available to you on the Usenet news groups. Use your favorite newsgroup reader to subscribe to one of these.
USENET resources on the web for gardening:
If we can't provide you with what you are looking for, be sure to take a look at Gardenscape for a complete list of gardening companies on the web. Yahoo also has a number of resources about gardening. In addition, try the Gardening site on About.com, or this personal page for a great compilation of gardening resources.