Southwest Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix By Heather N.Southwest Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix By Heather N.

The Miracle of Seeds: Growing Wildflowers

By David Salman, High Country Gardens Chief Horticulturist

I've always been fascinated by seeds.  The fact that plants can create little dormant pieces of themselves to broadcast out into the world to germinate is quite marvelous.  Even more amazing, is how long some seeds can survive before being given the chance to sprout. There have been discoveries of bean seeds uncovered in archaeological digs that are over a thousand years old, and they were still viable and able to germinate! While not all seeds have the ability to hold a spark of life for so many centuries, it’s not uncommon for seeds that have been stored in a dry, cool place to maintain their viability for a decade.

For gardeners, seeds are an essential piece of horticulture, allowing us to propagate and grow thousands of species of ornamental and edible plants. We can do this in two basic ways:

  • Germinate the seeds and transplant the seedlings into containers for future relocation into our gardens and landscapes.
  • Sow and germinate seeds directly outdoors without having to cultivate and transplant seedlings.

Each method has its pros and cons. Success in either arena is mostly dependent on the skill of the gardener and favorable weather.

Sowing seeds directly into the area where you want them to grow is a fun, challenging, and cost-effective way to garden. So here are a few basics that I have used over the years to optimize the outdoor seed sowing process and some easy-to-germinate wildflower species on which to practice.

For more information about how to plant wildflowers, visit our helpful guide:

A helpful hint for seedling identification: Sow a pot full of your seed mix as a reference for future weeding. There is no point sowing a new meadow only to weed out the flower seedlings because you didn't know the difference between the weeds and your seeds.

 

Here is a short list of materials and supplies you’ll need to sow the seeds:

  1. Calculate how much seed is needed to cover the area to be seeded.
  2. Rake shallow grooves into the bare soil before sowing. 
  3. Measure out the seed and the Plant Success, then mix the seed and inoculant into a bucket half-filled with sand. Make sure the sand is slightly moist. I use the sand as a “spreader,” diluting the seeds to more evenly distribute them over the area to be sown. Sow seeds evenly.
  4. Using a sod roller, a soil tamper, or your feet, compress the seeds into the soil. Water the area thoroughly and keep it damp watering several times a day until you see the seedlings start to emerge.

 

Some Easy-to-Germinate Annual Wildflower Species

Annual wildflowers are a great way to “color up” new gardens and landscapes.  Annuals will grow and bloom in one growing season. They also leave behind ample seeds to continue to inhabit their new home year after year. It's best to sow annual flower seeds in late spring.

  • Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) – a tough, colorful, drought-tolerant native wildflower that the bees and butterflies will love to pollinate. Color-wise, it combines best with yellow, orange, blue or purple flowers.
  • Scarlet Flax (Linum grandiflorum rubrum) – an Old World wildflower species, Scarlet Flax has naturalized over much of the US. The large bright red flowers are a stunning addition to your waterwise landscape.
Scarlet FlaxScarlet Flax
Scarlet Flax

  1. Pink and Red and White Cosmos bipinnatus Seeds, Cosmos bipinnatus, Cosmos Seeds

    Easy to grow and dependable, Cosmos add brilliant color starting in midsummer, lasting all the way until the frost. Beautiful in the meadow and cut for summer bouquets. Annual....

    Learn More
    Cosmos Seeds Cosmos Seeds Cosmos bipinnatus
    As low as $8.95 Sale $8.05
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Easy to grow and dependable, Cosmos add brilliant color starting in midsummer, lasting all the way until the frost. Beautiful in the meadow and cut for summer bouquets. Annual.
    Learn More
  2. Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea

    The sweet scent and brilliant blooms of Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea) will summon hummingbirds, butterflies and bees from near and far. Plant Scarlet Sage seeds for long-lasting blo...

    Learn More
    Scarlet Sage Seeds (Salvia) Scarlet Sage Salvia coccinea
    As low as $12.95 Sale $11.65
    Per 1 Ounce
    The sweet scent and brilliant blooms of Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea) will summon hummingbirds, butterflies and bees from near and far. Plant Scarlet Sage seeds for long-lasting blooms from spring through fall, lovely for cut flowers. These deer resistant flowers readily self-sow, so you'll enjoy it year after year. At High Country Gardens, all seeds are non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow. Annual.
    Learn More
  3. Peruvian Zinnia, Zinnia peruviana

    Peruvian Zinnia (Zinnia peruviana) has elegant red blossoms that progress through a subtle range of hues as they mature, blooming all summer long. Plant Peruvian Zinnia seeds to enli...

    Learn More
    Peruvian Zinnia Seeds Peruvian Zinnia Zinnia peruviana
    As low as $19.95 Sale $17.95
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Peruvian Zinnia (Zinnia peruviana) has elegant red blossoms that progress through a subtle range of hues as they mature, blooming all summer long. Plant Peruvian Zinnia seeds to enliven a border, brighten a meadow, attract pollinators, and add charm to bouquets. This Southwestern native wildflower is easy to grow and deer resistant. At High Country Gardens, all seeds are non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow. Annual.
    Learn More
  4. Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia

    With clusters of lavender flowers atop willowy foliage, Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) is a refreshing addition to the garden or meadow. This native wildflower blooms all sum...

    Learn More
    Lacy Phacelia Seeds Lacy Phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia
    As low as $6.95 Sale $6.25
    Per 1/4 Pound
    With clusters of lavender flowers atop willowy foliage, Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) is a refreshing addition to the garden or meadow. This native wildflower blooms all summer, attracting butterflies and bees. Lacy Phacelia is often used as a cover crop to protect and enrich soil, and will self-sow for a naturalized planting. Seeds are non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and guaranteed to grow. Annual.
    Learn More

Perennial Wildflowers Return Each Year

Perennial wildflowers are the essential plant component of meadows and prairies, living for many years in the same place. Perennials grow strong, resilient root systems, dying back in winter, but returning each year as a plant that matures and grows larger each season. Sow perennial flower seeds in early spring while the nights are still frosty, or sow in fall or winter, when seeds can lay dormant until spring. 

  • Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) – a big colorful Midwestern wildflower that germinates readily without any pre-treatment.
  • Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) – a member of the legume family, native Purple Prairie clover is not only a beautiful flower that attracts a wide variety of pollinators, but it takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it into the soil to help feed the soil and fertilize the plants. If sowing Dalea in the spring or summer, you’ll first need to cold stratify* the seed to simulate a period of winter dormancy. Take the Dalea seed and mix it into a ziplock baggie with 4 times the volume of slightly damp sand. Stick the bag in the ‘frig for 6 weeks (write the removal date on the baggie).  After 6 weeks of sitting in the damp cold of the refrigerator, it is ready to sow.
Purple Prairie CloverPurple Prairie Clover
Purple Prairie Clover

  1. Purple Echinacea purpurea Seeds, Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower Seeds

    Echinacea is one of the most beloved flowers both in the garden and meadow. It is easy to grow, attracts butterflies and makes for gorgeous bouquets. Perennial....

    Learn More
    Purple Coneflower Seeds (Echinacea) Purple Coneflower Seeds Echinacea purpurea
    As low as $22.99 Sale $20.69
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Echinacea is one of the most beloved flowers both in the garden and meadow. It is easy to grow, attracts butterflies and makes for gorgeous bouquets. Perennial.
    Learn More
  2. Red and Yellow Gaillardia aristata Seeds, Gaillardia aristata, Blanket Flower or Firewheel Seeds

    A long-lasting favorite in the plains and the west coast, Blanket Flower creates a colorful show that lasts for months. Perennial....

    Learn More
    Blanket Flower Seeds (Gaillardia) Blanket Flower Seeds Gaillardia aristata
    As low as $16.99 Sale $15.29
    Per 1/4 Pound
    A long-lasting favorite in the plains and the west coast, Blanket Flower creates a colorful show that lasts for months. Perennial.
    Learn More
  3. Blue Linum perenne Seeds, Linum perenne , Blue Flax Seeds

    Blue Flax is one of the easiest wildflowers to grow and one of the most rewarding. The powder-blue blooms create a spectacular look in the meadow, on their own or paired with other w...

    Learn More
    Blue Flax Seeds (Linum) Blue Flax Seeds Linum perenne
    As low as $15.95 Sale $14.35
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Blue Flax is one of the easiest wildflowers to grow and one of the most rewarding. The powder-blue blooms create a spectacular look in the meadow, on their own or paired with other wildflowers. A ready re-seeder, it easily naturalizes.
    Learn More
  4. Red and Yellow Ratibida columnaris Seeds, Ratibida columnaris, Mexican Hat Seeds

    This native perennial boasts gorgeous, deep red petals edged in bright yellow. Mexican Hat is drought-tolerant and thrives in any sunny spot....

    Learn More
    Mexican Hat Seeds Mexican Hat Seeds Ratibida columnaris
    As low as $14.95 Sale $13.45
    Per 1/4 Pound
    This native perennial boasts gorgeous, deep red petals edged in bright yellow. Mexican Hat is drought-tolerant and thrives in any sunny spot.
    Learn More

Wildflower Mixes Pair Annuals & Perennials

Wildflower seed mixes typically include a mix of both annual and perennial wildflowers. A mix allows you to enjoy various colors as flowers bloom over the season. This way you can see bright colors in the first season, and have wildflowers that get better every year with perennial wildflowers. Over time, your meadow will mature, attracting pollinators and wildlife.

Southwest Pollinator Wildflower Seed MixSouthwest Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix
Southwest Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix

  1. Dry Area Wildflower Seed Mix

    A customer favorite for over 25 years, this special blend of wildflowers will do very well in dry, well-drained soils. Popular in coastal areas or sandy soil conditions, this mix con...

    Learn More
    Dry Area Wildflower Seed Mix Dry Area Wildflower Seed Mix
    As low as $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per 1/4 Pound
    A customer favorite for over 25 years, this special blend of wildflowers will do very well in dry, well-drained soils. Popular in coastal areas or sandy soil conditions, this mix contains 25 hardy wildflower varieties. Flowers from the annual wildflowers will begin in around just 6 weeks and last all season long with 14 annual species for first-year blooms and 11 perennial varieties for lasting flowers for years to come.
    Learn More
  2. Intermountain Native Wildflower Seed Mix

    Our Intermountain Native Wildflower Seed Mix features 19 wildflowers native to the rugged western United States. These tough native wildflowers can handle the hot summers and harsh w...

    Learn More
    Intermountain Native Wildflower Seed Mix Intermountain Native Wildflower Seed Mix
    As low as $23.95 Sale $21.55
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Our Intermountain Native Wildflower Seed Mix features 19 wildflowers native to the rugged western United States. These tough native wildflowers can handle the hot summers and harsh winter climates to offer colorful blooms year after year. Attract pollinators with colorful lupines, coneflowers, penstemon, and more. Plant for casual gardens, no-mow lawn alternatives, and stunning meadows.
    Learn More
  3. Fire Restoration Wildflower Seed Mix

    The Fire Restoration Mixture has been formulated to help restore fire damaged land with fast growing annual and perennial wildflowers. This mix is perfect for areas that need to be e...

    Learn More
    Fire Restoration Wildflower Seed Mix Fire Restoration Wildflower Seed Mix
    As low as $16.95 Sale $15.25
    Per 1/4 Pound
    The Fire Restoration Mixture has been formulated to help restore fire damaged land with fast growing annual and perennial wildflowers. This mix is perfect for areas that need to be established quickly, not just those damaged by fire.
    Learn More
  4. High Country Butterfly Habitat Wildflower Seed Mix

    Plant a butterfly buffet with our High Country Butterfly Habitat Wildflower Seed Mix. Featuring 15 species selected for their nectar-rich flowers and varied bloom times, and host pla...

    Learn More
    High Country Butterfly Habitat Wildflower Seed Mix High Country Butterfly Habitat Wildflower Seed Mix
    As low as $34.95 Sale $31.45
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Plant a butterfly buffet with our High Country Butterfly Habitat Wildflower Seed Mix. Featuring 15 species selected for their nectar-rich flowers and varied bloom times, and host plants for monarch butterfly larvae. The result? A symphony of brilliant colors from late spring through fall, providing a nourishing feast for butterflies, as well as a feast for your eyes.
    Learn More

by David Salman

Sow seeds directly into the landscape to create a wildflower meadow.
Sow seeds directly into the landscape to create a wildflower meadow. (Shown: High Country Meadow Mix)

I've always been fascinated by seeds.  The fact that plants can create little dormant pieces of themselves to broadcast out into the world to germinate is quite marvelous.  Even more amazing, is how long some seeds can survive before being given the chance to sprout. There have been discoveries of bean seeds uncovered in archaeological digs that are over a thousand years old, and they were still viable and able to germinate! While not all seeds have that ability to hold a spark of life for so many centuries, it’s not uncommon for seeds that have been stored in a dry, cool place to maintain their viability for a decade.

For gardeners, seeds are an essential piece of horticultural, allowing us to propagate and grow thousands of species of ornamental and edible plants. And we can do this in two basic ways:

  • Germinate the seeds and transplant the seedlings into containers for future relocation into our gardens and landscapes.
  • Sow and germinate seeds directly outdoors without having to cultivate and transplant seedlings.

Each method has its pros and cons. Success in either arena is mostly dependent on the skill of the gardener and favorable weather.

Sowing seeds directly into the landscape
Scarlet Flax is an easy to grow wildflower seed that pollinators love.
Scarlet Flax is an easy-to-grow wildflower seed with an extended period of blooms.

Sowing seeds directly into the area where you want them to grow is a fun, challenging and cost-effective way to garden. So here are a few basics that I have used over the years to optimize the outdoor seed sowing process and some easy-to-germinate wildflower species on which to practice.

Here is a short list of materials and supplies you’ll need to sow the seeds:

Calculate how much seed is needed to cover the area to be seeded. Measure out the seed and the Granular mycorrhizal inoculant then mix the seed and inoculant into a bucket half filled with sand. Make sure the sand is slightly moist. I use the sand as “spreader” diluting the seeds to more evenly distribute them over the area to be sown.  Rake shallow grooves into the bare soil before sowing, then turn the rake over and smooth the soil over the sown seed/sand mix. Using a sod roller, a soil tamper or your feet, compress the soil on top of the seeds then mulch with a half inch of the straw.  Water the area thoroughly and keep it damp watering several times a day until you see the seedlings start to emerge.

Helpful Hint

Sow a pot full of your seed mix as a reference for future weeding. There is no point sowing a new meadow only to weed out the flower seedlings because you didn't know the difference between the weeds and your seeds.

  1. Pink and Red and White Cosmos bipinnatus Seeds, Cosmos bipinnatus, Cosmos Seeds

    Easy to grow and dependable, Cosmos add brilliant color starting in midsummer, lasting all the way until the frost. Beautiful in the meadow and cut for summer bouquets. Annual....

    Learn More
    Cosmos Seeds Cosmos Seeds Cosmos bipinnatus
    As low as $8.95 Sale $8.05
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Easy to grow and dependable, Cosmos add brilliant color starting in midsummer, lasting all the way until the frost. Beautiful in the meadow and cut for summer bouquets. Annual.
    Learn More
  2. Pink Eupatorium fistulosum Seeds, Eupatorium fistulosum, Joe Pye Weed Seeds

    Eupatorium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed) is a butterfly magnet, this tall growing plant with huge, pink flat-topped flower clusters flowers in late summer....

    Learn More
    Joe Pye Weed Seeds (Eupatorium) Joe Pye Weed Seeds Eupatorium fistulosum
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $3.95 Sale $3.55
    Per Packet
    Eupatorium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed) is a butterfly magnet, this tall growing plant with huge, pink flat-topped flower clusters flowers in late summer.
    Learn More
  3. Mule's Ears Seeds, Wyethia amplexicaulis Meadow

    In late spring, Mule's Ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis) begin to open, with large yellow flowers accenting bright green lance-shaped leaves and attracting pollinators from miles around. ...

    Learn More
    Mule's Ears Seeds (Wyethia) Mules Ears Wyethia amplexicaulis
    As low as $13.95 Sale $12.55
    Per 1 Ounce
    In late spring, Mule's Ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis) begin to open, with large yellow flowers accenting bright green lance-shaped leaves and attracting pollinators from miles around. Plant the seeds of this Western native wildflower to grow a carpet of sunshine and deep root systems that help prevent erosion., At High Country Gardens, all seeds are non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and guaranteed to grow. Perennial.
    Learn More
  4. Siberian Wallflower Seeds, Cheiranthus allionii

    Bursting into bloom in late spring, Siberian Wallflower (Cheiranthus allionii) brightens gardens with clusters of fragrant, vibrant orange flowers that are magnets for butterflies an...

    Learn More
    Siberian Wallflower Seeds (Cheiranthus) Siberian Wallflower Seeds Cheiranthus allionii
    As low as $8.95 Sale $8.05
    Per 1/4 Pound
    Bursting into bloom in late spring, Siberian Wallflower (Cheiranthus allionii) brightens gardens with clusters of fragrant, vibrant orange flowers that are magnets for butterflies and bees. Adaptable to a wide range of soils, this easy-care beauty is 10-18 tall and makes an ideal cut flower. At High Country Gardens, all seeds are non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow. Biennial.
    Learn More
Some easy-to-germinate wild flower species

Annual wildflowers are a great way to “color up” new gardens and landscapes.  Annuals will grow and bloom in one growing season. They also leave behind ample seeds to continue to inhabit their new home year after year.  Sow annual flower seeds in late spring.

  • Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)– a tough, colorful, drought tolerant native wildflower that the bees and butterflies will love to pollinate. Color wise, it combines best with other yellow, orange, blue or purple flowers.
  • Scarlet Flax (Linum grandiflorum rubrum) – an Old World wildflower species, Scarlet Flax has naturalized over much of the US. The large bright red flowers are a stunning addition to your waterwise landscape.

Perennial wildflowers are the essential plant component of meadows and prairies living for many years in the same place.  Sow perennial flower seeds in early spring while the nights are still frosty. Or cold stratify the seeds* (see below) and sow in late spring or summer.

Purple Prairie Clover
Grow Purple Prairie Clover for an easy to germinate perennial wildflower seed.
  • Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) – a big colorful Midwestern wildflower that germinates readily without any pre-treatment.
  • Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) – a member of the legume family, native Purple Prairie clover is not only a beautiful flower that attracts a wide variety of pollinators, but it takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it into the soil to help feed the soil and fertilize the plants. If sowing Dalea in the spring or summer, you’ll first need to cold stratify* the seed to simulate a period of winter dormancy. Take the Dalea seed and mix it into a ziplock baggie with 4 times the volume of slightly damp sand. Stick the bag in the ‘frig for 6 weeks (write the removal date on the baggie).  After 6 weeks of sitting in the damp cold of the refrigerator, it is ready to sow.

Text and Photos by Founder and Chief Horticulturist David Salman.

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