Maintaining Wildflower Gardens and Meadows
Moisture and Nutrient Requirements of Wildflowers
All seeds, including wildflower seeds, need ample moisture to germinate and to develop into healthy seedlings. Best results will be obtained by soaking the planted areas thoroughly and maintaining consistent moisture for 4-6 weeks. Afterwards, watering can be gradually reduced over several weeks. In non-irrigated situations, plant in the spring or before periods of anticipated rainfall. If you are seeding in an area with spotty or inconsistent rainfall, germination and establishment may be poor or minimal.
After seedlings are well established, watering may be reduced or eliminated. Mature wildflower moisture requirements will depend on the species planted as well as the climate and rainfall of the area. In arid climates or during drought conditions, up to 1/2 inch of supplemental water per week may be required to maintain an optimal display. If weeds are present, remember that they benefit from moisture as much as the wildflowers and may dominate over watered areas.
Many wildflowers benefit from some fertilization if the soil does not have adequate nutrients. Fertilizing wildflowers may not be needed as some wildflowers do fine in poor soils. Other wildflowers may require a more fertile environment. We recommend that a soil test be performed when soil quality is unknown. If the soil needs improvement, use a low nitrogen fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio or add organic matter such as weed-free straw or grass clippings, well-rotted compost, peat moss, or leaf mold. In addition to adding nutrients, organic materials enhance soil structure and encourage beneficial microorganisms. Avoid over-fertilizing which may promote weed growth and lush foliage rather than flowers.
Maintaining wildflower gardens and meadows can be easier if you choose species that are appropriate to the site conditions and are adapted to local climatic conditions. If this is your goal, keep in mind that moisture is still critical in the initial stages, but ultimately moisture and nutrient needs can be kept to a minimum.