Traditionally, we think of the balmy days of spring or summer as the time to sow seeds in our gardens. And while this may be true of many annual flowers and vegetables, seeds of perennial wildflowers are best sown in the late fall or winter! Why? Many perennials have seeds that require a period of cold, moist conditions to break down naturally occurring chemicals in the seeds that inhibit germination. These substances protect the seeds from germinating prematurely such that they wait until the following spring to sprout. This process is called cold stratification.
I have found that by working with nature and the weather, perennial wildflower seeds can be sown directly into the landscape to add color, feed pollinators like bees and hummingbirds and create a more natural looking landscape.
My favorite technique is to mimic mother nature and sow these seeds just before snowfall. You can watch the weather carefully beginning in the late fall/early winter months for predictions of a good snowfall, 4-6 inches at least. You can seed just before the snowstorm, so the snow acts as a blanket.
Steps To Sowing In Winter
Make sure you seed in an area with a prepared garden bed (grass or weeds have been removed).
Get a plastic bucket and mix the seeds with slightly damp sand to help distribute the seeds more evenly onto the ground.
Go out and scatter the seed/sand mix over the area to be seeded and wait for the snow to come and “tuck them in.” When the snow melts, the freezing at night and thawing during the day help work the seeds into the soil. Continued snows just enhance the effect and provide the moist, cold conditions these perennials seed require to germinate the following spring.
If you miss the first couple of snows, it’s fine to sow the seeds right on top of the snow (though they may not germinate quite as robustly as those sowed directly onto the ground). With a little sunshine, the darker seeds absorb and heat up melting themselves down into the snow. Better yet, the next snow buries the seeds down more deeply below the surface. Just as sowing prior to the first snows, seeds are moved into soil by freezing and thawing as the snow melts later.
I don’t recommend sowing on top of the snow if your yard gets a lot of wind. Wind can blow the top layers of the snow and seeds to another part of the landscape or your neighbor’s yard! In windy areas, it’s best to try and get underneath the snow earlier in November of December.
To make sure the perennial wildflower seeds are subjected to a long enough stretch of cold, moist conditions, try to get the seeds sown by February. Note that a mixture of annual and perennial wildflower seeds can be sown using this method. The annuals will sprout nicely even though they don’t need the damp winter cold.
Be patient and by late spring/early summer you should see lots of small seedlings establishing themselves into your landscape.
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.
Having problems with deer eating flowers in your garden? If the answer is Yes, this mix is for you! This mix contains a colorful blend of 17 different wildflowers that deer usually stay away from. The mix will burst with annual color just 6 weeks after planting including Red Poppy and Arroyo Lupine. This mix also includes 7 hardy perennial varieties that will begin blooming in the second growing season.
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.
Sick of mowing your lawn? Looking for an environmentally friendly alternative? This mix is the perfect combination of wildflowers, grasses and groundcovers specifically formulated to provide color and soil stabilization. A unique blend of 13 varieties, this mix provides an easy to grow, diverse mix that makes the perfect alternative to lawn.
Are you dealing with water restrictions or looking to minimize watering? If so this is mix is for you. A perfectly balanced blend of 18 different wildflowers this mix is sure to bring lasting color. With 9 annuals for first year color and 9 perennials for lasting color, this mix was formualted to perform well with very limited watering.
This wildflower seed mix attracts beneficial bugs to your garden, which will help destroy harmful pests such as mites, thrips and aphids. Beneficial bugs include lady bugs, hover flies, parasitic wasps and lacewings.