Magazine article Sunset

Sow Wildflowers the Right Way

Magazine article Sunset

Sow Wildflowers the Right Way

Article excerpt

Gardeners who sow wildflower seeds in fall may envision a springtime scene of brightly colored blossoms billowing in the breeze, with butterflies and bees dancing from bloom to bloom. But sometimes when spring arrives, weeds-not wildflowers-steal the show.

"The most common mistake when planting wildflower seeds is not getting rid of the existing weed and native grass seeds that are in the soil and germinate along with the wildflowers," says Michael Landis, president of the Wildflower Seed Company in St. Helena, California. "These fast-growing weeds and grasses smother out the slower-growing wildflowers," he adds. For a more successful planting, Landis recommends the following techniques to eliminate the weeds and get the seeds off to a good start.

First, choose a site in full sun. To get rid of existing weeds, hand-cultivate the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches and remove all weeds; this is the method with the least environmental impact. You can also spray weeds with a chemical herbicide, such as glyphosate, and then cultivate the soil after the weeds have died. …

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