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How to prepare the ground for wildflowers
Last Updated on January 6, 2020 by John
Wildflower gardens make for a wonderful home to flying, winged insects and pollinators, all of whom serve an important ecological purpose. You can create a spectacular wildflower garden with minimal soil preparation. The key is to know ahead of time that wildflowers, while naturally occurring all over the world, are in fact quite fussy about their soil and nutrients. If they do not like the area in which they are growing, they will not perform well. That is why you have to take measures to prepare the ground beforehand.
Types of Wildflowers
There are two types of wildflowers you can grow:
- Annuals: these germinate, flower, and die all in a single year.
- Perennials/Biannuals: these need longer to mature, but they live for many years. Perennials with continue to grow year after year only dieing back for the winter.
You need to know the type because they have different soil requirements. Annuals are not as fussy and adapt to most areas because they often thrive in farmland, with a lifecycle that coincides with that of annual farming.
Here are some fun facts about annual wildflowers:
- Wildflowers are often annuals which means they grow, flower, seed, and die in a single year.
- They often prefer being sown in Autumn or in Spring.
- They need to be sown into the soil directly, generally just scattering the seed over the desired area.
- If germinating from seed with wildflower seeds, they need a sunny location.
- Wildflowers grow best in full sun with nutrient-rich soil.
- They compete well with things like barley and wheat.
- Most are self-seeding, but you need to distribute the soil to better encourage germination.
Preparing the Soil
Once you are ready to prepare your soil, start by locating a sunny spot. The wildflowers you grow will need this sun to thrive.
The area needs to be stripped of all vegetation, especially roots of perennials weeds. The area needs to be dug to a depth of at least 15cm. Remember, the goal here is to copy the same style of preparation as a plough would do on a farm.
The soil should be free draining and aided with organic matter to help it retain moisture. Once that is done, the soil should be raked with a tilth or garden rake. You can even consider using a rotavator or tiller to break up and turn the soil.
The seeds should be sown right where you want them to flower. They should be thinned according to the packet instructions for the seeds of your choosing. The seeds are often very tiny and mixed with a sand mixture to help spread them more evenly.
Perennials and biannuals tend to thrive in low maintenance areas. They do well among grasses too. Perennials tend to flower early in the season, which means that local bees do a lot to pollinate them. They will propagate via seed and regenerate from the existing roots annually. Realistically, with perennials, the only maintenance you need do is to cut the flowers in summer (most gardeners with a large swath of land just mow the area). This will go a long way toward a second flush of flowers.
Preparing the Soil
Once you are ready to prepare your soil, start by locating an area with lots of sunlight. Remove all existing vegetation including leaves and roots. It is better to find an area to dedicate to the flowers rather than try to add them near your garden, as they thrive in low nutrient soil.
Dig a depth of 12cm on average to loosen up the soil. Lightly fork over the area, especially if you are adding some low nutrient soil on the surface of the trench you have dug.
Put the plants in the ground or spread the wildflower seeds in spring as directed on the seed packet. Cut back the wildflowers and grasses at least once each year, often in late June, to keep soil nutrient content low. This seems counterintuitive, but for perennial wildflowers, they grow in low nutrient areas and your job is to recreate their natural environment.
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Last update on 2020-10-22 at 16:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API