The Great Lakes region is vast and diverse, but it is united by hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Many native North American wildflower species can be found throughout the whole region, but we have selected twenty-one species for their ease, suitability, and charm. This collection includes annuals, biennials, and perennials that are both cold hardy and drought tolerant. They should return for years to come once established. The range of colours is huge, as are the number of native insects that will come to feed on them. Any area with limited biodiversity will be improved by the Great Lakes Wildflower Blend.
How to Grow Wildflowers
Unless otherwise stated, all the wildflower mixes will contain perennials, annuals, and biennials. In small areas, seeds can be scattered by hand. In larger areas, you may want to employ a lawn spreader or some other mechanical means. We recommend adding 1-2 parts clean, dry sand to 1 part wildflower seeds which will help the seeds spread evenly. Do not use beach sand, as it will be full of salt. It may be wise to spread most of the seed, but to save 15-20% for filling in bald spots at a later date. Seeds must come into contact with the soil in order to germinate. Do not bury seeds more than 2-3 times their thickness. Follow along with this handy guide how to grow wildflowers in your garden and grow some colour!
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Direct sow early March to the end of May. Wildflower seeds can also be sown in the autumn, but you may lose a certain percentage of seeds to water, birds, and animals. To make the most of the annual species, direct sow in March.
Site Selection: If there are no plants (including weeds) growing in the site you want to plant, it is unlikely to support wildflowers. Possible issues may be soil fertility, lack of drainage, or the need for soil amendments to improve texture.
Site Preparation: Remove as much existing vegetation as possible through pulling or tilling under in order to minimize competition. Loosen the soil by scraping, raking, or tilling. Wildflower blends will not usually take if planted into existing lawn because the thatch prevents their contact with soil.
Seed Application: In small areas, seeds can be scattered by hand. In larger areas, you may want to employ a lawn spreader or some other mechanical means. We recommend adding 1-2 parts clean, dry sand to 1 part wildflower seeds which will help the seeds spread evenly. Do not use beach sand, as it usually contains salt. It may be wise to spread most of the seed, but to save some for filling in bald spots at a later date. Seeds must come into contact with the soil in order to germinate. Do not bury seeds more than 2-3 times their thickness.
Planting rates: Aim for a planting density of 70 seeds per square foot. 90g of seeds will cover 1,000 ft². Use 4kg per acre. 500g covers about 5,500 ft². If you are seeding an area where site preparation and weeding are not possible, double this rate.
Keep the seeded area as evenly moist as possible to help the seeds germinate and the young seedlings become established. Weeds need to be kept under control. Once they are growing, most mixes will not require additional water except in long periods of hot, dry weather. All of our mixes should re-grow for several years, but will benefit from re-seeding. In late summer, many of the components will produce seed heads that can be harvested and replanted the following spring.
Wildflowers & Regionality
Wildflowers & Regionality
The component seeds in our wildflower mixes are carefully selected using a number of criteria. We select for variety of colour, for length of bloom time, for uniform height, and overall performance. We also consider longevity a key selling point for our blends, so we combine long lasting perennials and biennials with annuals that tend to self-sow and return for at least several years of colour.
Under the right conditions (exposure, moisture, daylight, soil, etc…) some self-sowing annuals and biennials can “naturalize.” When the conditions are ideal, these plants may perform as they do in their native environment, and spread beyond the garden bed.
Plants that naturalize are not the same as invasive weeds or noxious weeds. These latter categories refer to specific species that are known to spread aggressively in certain regions. They cause infestations of agricultural land or cause other economic stresses on a region. Lists of particular noxious weeds are maintained by provincial and state authorities — what is invasive in Hawaii might not be invasive in Saskatchewan. And these lists are routinely revised — plants that were once listed may no longer be listed, and vice versa.
Our wildflower seed blends are sampled and screened by independent seed labs for purity. We maintain rigorous paperwork on every seed lot to show that they do not contain errant weed seeds. None of the blends we offer contains any prohibited or restricted seeds.
So Why Grow Wildflowers?
Biodiversity is a key element of pollinator conservation, and one of the founding principles in organic growing. Biodiversity, both above and beneath the soil, promotes healthier ecosystems. In these conditions, gardeners and growers can better exploit naturally occurring phenomena: predatory and beneficial insects, naturally fertile soil, improved pollination for better harvests, and resistance to disease and environmental pressures.
By promoting the growth of meadows, set-asides, wildflower rows, nectaries, and hedgerows, growers can actually improve the land on (and in) which they grow.
West Coast Seeds enjoys a geographically diverse customer base across North America. If you live in a sensitive bioregion, there may be campaigns at your local level, against the planting of certain seeds. Please consider such campaigns as you select the right wildflower blend for your garden, field, or farm.
Click here for the State and Province Noxious Weed Lists.
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