Wildflower Planting in July
Wildflowers are incredibly underrated. Their vivid colors, delicate foliage, and a profusion of different scents make them an ideal choice for borders or beds, but they’re often passed up for ornamental cultivars.
And that’s a real shame because wildflowers are an important part of our natural ecosystem. Their nectar attracts pollinating bees and butterflies; their leaves shelter ground-dwelling insects and they provide a much-needed foraging ground for birds and small mammals.
Once established, they’re also a huge help for the soil: Putting down quick roots to protect against erosion, and locking in valuable nutrients that can help to sustain growth for years to come.
Best of all though, wildflowers are hardy. They thrive in low nutrient soils and they require very little in the way of upkeep, which makes them a great choice for gardeners without much free time.
If you’re struggling to fill out a flower bed or looking for a low-maintenance way of adding a splash of color to a relatively plain lawn, a scattering of native wildflowers may well be the perfect solution.
You’ll also be helping to preserve the biodiversity of our ecosystem, and that is a really important thing to focus on because, here in Michigan, our wildflowers are slowly dying out as a result of increased urban development and many of the native species are currently endangered.
Wildflowers are very easy to plant too. You can grow them from seed, and you can start right now – in the middle of July – without too much effort or energy. Just make sure that you pick varieties that are native to the area, as our low light levels and sub-par temperatures do make it hard to establish some of the flowers that come from warmer parts of the country.
Species native to Michigan include Trillium, beach pea, purple coneflower and dwarf lake iris. There are also some really beautiful varieties of evening primrose that you can plant out in July, and enjoy come spring/summer 2019.
Interested in planting some wildflowers to fill out your garden? Follow our step by step guide to get them established, and reap the benefits at the start of the next growing season:
Step 1: Pick your spot
First things first, you need to decide where you want to plant your flowers. Low light areas are best, as are borders/grassy areas with low nutrient soil. Wildflowers are often pushed out of the nutrient-rich soil by more aggressive grasses here in Michigan.
Step 2: Pick flowers that suit the soil
Once you’ve picked a spot, you’ll need to pick varieties of wildflower that suit the soil. Some wildflowers, like Trillium, absolutely love moist, acidic soil while options like the dwarf lake iris (our state flower) tend to prefer thin, sandy soil that’s well drained. For best results, do plenty of research and pick complementary flowers that enjoy the same conditions.
Step 3: Remove the topsoil
To get the actual planting process started, you’ll want to remove a thin layer of topsoil so that you lower the nutrient content, and remove any well-entrenched roots. About an inch is plenty, but make sure you rake the area over afterward.
Step 4: Sow your seeds
Once you’ve prepped your border or lawn, you can start adding your seeds. We’d mix up all of the different varieties you want to plant so that you get a nice, natural looking blend of flowers, and then scatter. You can use a spreader to do this if you’re trying to cover a lot of ground, but scattering by hand works just as well for small plots.
Step 5: Stay on top of weeds
As mentioned above, wildflowers are often crowded out by weeds and grasses, particularly if there’s an abundance of nutrients in the soil. Making sure that you pluck out any weeds before you seed is the key to making sure that your wildflowers get a bit of a head-start, but it is important to eke out any competition come the spring too – just to make sure that freshly-sprouted flowers don’t end up being starved.
Step 6: Enjoy you Wildflowers!
Come next spring, you should find that your border, bed or lawn is crowded out with beautiful wildflowers, and the attendant bees and butterflies that flock to plants native to the Michigan ecosystem.
If you have any questions about wildflower planting or want to talk to someone about planting out a meadow, we’d love to hear from you! We’re always happy to answer any questions and we thoroughly enjoy helping people to support our natural ecosystem so get in touch with Amanda, Landscape and Garden Expert at Vandersalms.