Gardeners are some of the “tough customers” on our annual Winter gift lists; it’s hard to know what they could use at that time of year. Here are a couple of suggestions: Wildflower seeds for the gardener in your life will trigger winter-long dreams of spring. A Watters gift card as a stocking stuffer is always well-received. So, if folks you care about really love their gardens a gift card from Watters makes perfect sense. If their gardens have no space for a blanket of wildflowers, next spring, they can stop by and pick out precisely what they want or really need as gardens begin to thaw. Hey, it’s not the same as the living plants they’ve been thinking about, but it’s winter! The gardeners on your list will understand, and gratefully so.
Don’t have time to view the entire article, see the highlights below:
- High country of Arizona has the perfect climate for wildflowers
- ‘Arizona Mix’ is the seed of choice for wildflower purists.
- Wild seeds need cold and the freeze to grow properly.
- Seed should be spread before Valentine’s Day
- Choose an area for wildflowers that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily.
- Pour a bag of Watters Premium Mulch into a wheelbarrow, then mix in the seed.
- 7-4-4 ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ spread over the entire seed bed.
- Gardeners love Watters Gift Cards as Winter holiday gifts.
Winter rain and snow are every gardener’s dream-come-true. I usually wait until the first rains in January to write about wildflowers, but our weather has been absolutely perfect for spreading wildflower seeds. With a few more good storms, wildflowers will be spectacular come spring!
The high country of Arizona has the perfect climate for wildflowers, but there are a few secrets to successful sowing.
First, there’s the seed mix. I’ve found a seed mix that works really well and is easy to use. ‘Beauty Beyond Belief’ is the seed of choice for the wildflower purists here at Watters Garden Center. It is the best collection of genuinely wild seeds collected throughout the Rocky Mountains for use at high elevations. The seed vendor, a family business, has been involved in producing some of Watters’ seed mix combinations. This company helped us develop an ‘Arizona Mix’ of wildflowers, our very first creation, in addition to dozens of other good local wildflower blends.
Basic requirements of wild seeds are their need for cold, then a freeze, then the thaws of late winter and early spring. You still have a few weekends to plant wildflowers, but try to be finished by Valentine’s Day.
Four simple steps really make a difference between wildflower success and failure. Here are the specific planting techniques that I count on to guarantee breath-taking shows of wildflowers:
Step 1: Select and prepare the planting area. Wildflowers, except for those that are shade-loving, need a considerable amount of sunshine, so choose an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily during the growing season.
Planting in weed-free soil assures optimal results, so pull out any growth you don’t want to be mixed in with your wildflowers. Then rake the seedbed to loosen the top 1- 2 inches of soil. I find better growth occurs when natural plant food is scraped into the seedbed when loosening the topsoil. My 7-4-4 ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ is well suited for this. It releases slowly throughout the spring and is precisely what’s needed during the germination period because slow feeding creates healthier roots and better flowers.
Step 2: Create your own hydro mulch. Some of the seeds in a mix are so small you can barely tell if you’ve spread the seeds evenly across the soil. Pour a bag of Watters Premium Mulch into a wheelbarrow and mix in the seed. Spread this seed-mulch blend over the prepared seedbed. This simple trick helps you see where the seed is placed, ensures good seed-to-soil contact, insulates the seed, and camouflages it from hungry birds.
Step 3: Keep the seedbed moist. If sufficient moisture is present, seeds will start to germinate from the end of February through April, as soon as soil temperatures warm. Wildflowers will require supplemental water if it doesn’t rain enough to keep the seedbed moist. A layer of snow over your seedbed is perfect for wildflowers. It maximizes germination without supplemental watering.
Step 4: Re-seed. In the fall, after the blooms are off and the seed heads are ready to drop, you can lend a hand in spreading seed for the following spring’s wildflowers. Just trim back the drying plants with a weed whacker. Besides pruning back the flowerbed, this will send a mixture of seeds flying throughout the garden for next season’s growth!
Until next issue, I’ll be helping local gardeners choose gift cards and wildflowers here at Watters Garden Center.