Fall Planting - Wildflowers


Fall has been proven the best time of year to plant trees, shrubs, spring blooming bulbs and lawns as the warm ground temperatures allow for great root growth before the cold really sets in. It is also a great time to sow your wildflower seeds and do all the necessary care your lawn and gardens require.


Mother Nature does her seed plantings in the fall and many garden experts swear by a fall planting. Here at the farm, we also do many of our areas with a fall dormant planting. Planting seeds in the fall gives an early start for the flower seeds to acclimate, the plants will germinate and grow faster come spring compared to those sown in spring. The natural cycle of flower seeds starts in the fall when flowers end their life span and get ready to drop off their seeds naturally. Once the seeds drop, they then search for receptive grounds (i.e., bare soil) and get prepared over the cold months for spring rains. So as nature does, you can too! Your fall sown seeds will lie dormant through the winter months. A great advantage to the fall planting is that you have cooler days and more time to prepare your area, rid it of unwanted growth and your wildflower seeds are on an even playing field with weeds and grasses giving them an all-important advantage over spring sown seed in competing with any weeds or grasses. Grasses are aggressive, so no matter what, it is best to take care of them by either removing the grasses using a rototiller or sod remover or using something that kills grasses. Fall is also a great time to over seed an existing area, especially if you want to bring back the annuals and/or boost your perennial population. Remember, anywhere that you had an annual plant on the first year, you will most likely not have one the second year, so leaving a space will allow for a weed or grass to work its way in. It's also a great time to determine weak areas or weedy areas. Once you find these areas, till and reseed so that they don't expand over time crowding out your lovely wildflower area.


In areas with freezing weather, a fall planting must be after a few killing frosts when your daytime temperatures are maintaining 45 degrees and below but before the ground freezes. In other words, when you are sure cold weather has set in. Killing frosts usually happen at 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall plantings in cooler/cold climates are dormant plantings and should be late enough so that the ground temperature is low, but the ground is not yet frozen. Seeds must remain dormant; the seeds will germinate in spring. In areas of no frost, plant as your rainy season begins.


Preparation for a new planting is the same as a spring preparation of an area with one exception; you don't water a fall planting. Visit our Guides Pages for full planting details. For over seeding an existing area we recommend that you mow down the area as you normally would at the end of the season. Remove the debris and cuttings, rake the areas to lightly loosen the soil without pulling out any existing plants unless you are sure they are weeds and over seed the area with your new batch of wildflower seed. You need to insure, just as in a spring planting, that the seed reaches bare soil. You can do this a few ways when overseeding; just before a predicted snow fall or roll the area to ensure that the seed reaches bare soil and is lightly compressed, just like a spring planting.


Winter is not the traditional time we think of to sow wildflowers seeds. While most annuals are sowed in spring through fall, you can certainly sow perennial wildflower seeds in a winter seeding. If your ground is prepared and ready to go and you missed fall seeding, don't fret, seed in winter. How can I do this, you ask? Well, you do it just like you would a spring or fall dormant seeding. Perennials need stratification, i.e., a cold period and moisture. You can even scatter the seeds on top of a light blanket of snow. We suggest raking the area first, sowing your seed and as winter progresses and we have warmer and colder temperatures, the seeds will eventually work their way down to bare soil. If you live in a warmer area, seed as your rainy season begins and if you are in an area that gets freezing cold temps but no snow, you can still sow just like you would in spring or fall. Perennials and particularly native perennials will enjoy a winter seeding and you will enjoy less waiting time for them to mature. If you have any questions, please contact our knowledgeable representatives, available every day from 9am - 6pm. Enjoy your Fall or Winter gardening!