1st year: establishing wildflower meadow - what will flower 2014?

njbiologyFebruary 17, 2014


This is going to be the first growing season for a wildflower meadow (sort of) that I'm establishing. I'm considering not mowing, but if I do mow, which of the following species will flower and set seed, even being mowed and maintained at a hight of 6" or 8"? I know Rudbeckia hirta will flower the first year and will produce flowers, even when maintained at a low height.

square stemmed monkeflower Mimulus ringens
winter (tickle) bent grass Agrostis hyemalis
upland bentgrass Agrostis perennans
butterfly milkweed Asclepias tuberosa spp. tuberosa
New England aster Aster (Symphyotrichum) novae-angliae
New York aster Aster (Symphyotrichum) novi-belgii
smooth blue aster Aster laevis (Symphyotrichum laeve)
flat-topped white aster Aster umbellatus (Doellingeria umbellata)
lanceleaf coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata
redtop panicgrass Panicum rigidulum
hairy beardtongue Penstemon hirsutus
fowl bluegrass Poa palustris
Virginia meadow beauty Rhexia virginica
orange coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida
browneyed Susan Rudbeckia triloba
Virginia spiderwort Tradescantia virginiana
purpletop grass Tridens flavus
northern wild-raisin viburnum Viburnum nudum spp. cassinoides
[hawthorn] Crataegus schraderiana
swamp (rose) milkweed Asclepias incarnata
white turtlehead Chelone glabra
Joe pye weed (trumpetweed) Eupatorium (Eupatoriadelphus) fistulosum (fistulosus)
common boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum
great blue lobelia Lobelia siphilitica spp. siphilitica
cutleaf coneflower Rudbeckia laciniata
Indian steel grass Sorphastrum nutans
swamp (blue) verbena Verbena hastata
New York ironweed Vernonia noveboracensis
Indianhemp; dogbane Apocynum cannabinum
(milkweed) Asclepias spp.
gray birch Betula populifolia
coastal sweetpepper bush Clethra alnifolia
giant sunflower Helianthus giganteus
(sunflower family) Helianthus spp.
crimsoneyed rosemallow Hibiscus moscheutos (incl. H. palustris)
Turk's cap lily Lilium superbum
staghorn sumac Rhus typhina
pasture rose Rosa carolina
little bluestem grass Schizachyrium (Andropogon) scoparium
(goldenrod) Solidago spp.
American calamus Acorus americanus
anise hyssop Agastache foeniculum
nodding onion Allium cernuum
blue false indigo Baptisia australis
large(r) camas Camassia leichtlinii
American (tall) bellflower Campanula americana
fringed sedge Carex crinita
fireweed Chamerion (Epilobium) angustifolium
field thistle Cirsium discolor
swamp thistle Cirsium muticum
purple prairie clover Dalea purpurea
tall larkspur Delphinium exaltatum
purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea
big-top purple lovegrass Eragrostis spectabilis
wood geranium Geranium maculatum
shrubby St. Johnswort Hypericum prolificum
common lousewort Pedicularis canadensis
wild sweet william phlox Phlox maculata
garden phlox Phlox paniculata
obedient plant Physostegia virginiana
upright prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera
gray-headed coneflower Ratibida pinnata
black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta
wild petunia Ruellia humilis
greater water dock Rumex orbiculatus (britannica)
azure blue sage Salvia azurea
lanceleaf figwort Scrophularia lanceolata
carpenter's square figwort Scrophularia marilandica
royal catchfly Silene regia
garden lovage Levisticum officinale
Indian-tobacco Lobelia inflata
upright prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera

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Its not clear what you are after here. Most of those you list are taller than 6" or 8" and it sounds like you are wanting a low growing lawn rather than a prairie. You can google each one you listed to see the heights and bloom times. Some of them are quite tall. Perhaps you should consider buffalo grass or blue grama grass with some naturally low growing wildflowers mixed in?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:12PM
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My personal feeling is that I wouldn't try to maintain (like a lawn) at 6 to 8 for the year. I might mow it twice to that height (perhaps in June and August), to preclude weed growth.

I think I would just do a burn...myself...but if that's not an option.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:17PM
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Nj, if I've got it right, you are planning a higher-6" to 8"-mowing just for this coming growing season, and perhaps the one following, to interupt weed seed cycles. IF that is so, it is indeed a normal part of meadow establishment. I guess to answer your question, the only one that will flower despite this early-stage mowing is what you've already identified-Rudbeckia hirta. Not saying none of these others won't also, just that in my experience R. hirta is one that can be dependably counted on to flower despite these early-stage mowings.

The thing I'm not getting though is the presence of the tree and shrub species within this mix. Not at all saying I don't like them, just I don't see how you can have a meadow in which woody plants are purposely part of the mix. Are you intending to have these woody species around the perimeter? That could work.

Then, once you've got your meadow up and running, fire is the best tool, but timely mowing can and often does suffice, depending on other circumstances. Or, one can purposely let the meadow undergo natural succession. That's what happens in nature, in areas of the country like yours and mine which were formerly primarily forested. Meadows would indeed exist, but as a seral stage following a disturbance of some kind. When we create these things, we have to bring the disturbance to them if we want it to remain as meadow, prairie, etc. Quite an extensive plant list BTW.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:58AM
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