Fifthroom Living

Apr
16
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TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

In many areas of the country right now, we are being treated to a spring explosion of wildflowers. From rural meadows to urban roadsides, wildflowers are not only a stunning floral display; they provide cover for wildlife and prevent erosion. But if you live in the city instead of a rural area with acreage, you can still add wildflowers to your small garden—it’s all in the preparation.Start by deciding which wildflower varieties you want to grow—each area of the country has its own native wildflowers that are adapted to the region’s climate. Check with your local county extension office or a trusted nursery for specific recommendations. From there, wildflowers are available either as plants (in some cases) or in seed (most cases), and if you do a little bit of research, you may find a wildflower seed mix that is blended for your area. Where I live in Texas, bluebonnets (above) are not only the state flower, they are one of our most vivid and stunning wildflowers.If you use wildflower plants, look for four-inch to 1-gallon pots at your local nursery that specializes in native plants. Flowers like daisies, poppies, coneflowers and fleabane are often available in smaller pots and ready for spring planting. For other wildflowers that establish best when sown by seed, place your order with your nursery so you’ll be ready for seed-sowing in the fall. In some northern-most areas of the country, you can sow wildflower seeds in the spring—but always check with experts in your neck of the woods for the best advice.Once your wildflowers are established, very little extra watering is necessary. If your area is experiencing a drought, be prepared to add up to a half inch of water a week to keep the wildflowers going. Fertilizing is rarely needed—in fact, many wildflowers will bloom less if they are given too much “food,” so opt to make your soil as healthy as possible and forgo the fertilizer. Wait until after your wildflowers have finished blooming and gone to seed before mowing down to a height of four to six inches. This is extremely important—when the wildflowers are allowed to go to seed, they will be much more prolific the following year. It can take several years for a full wildflower display to establish, but you’ll be glad you took the time when you see the results!

~Jenny Peterson

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