Creating my own wildflower seed mix

lisa2004(NY Z5/6)March 3, 2013

I have an area where I'd like to plant a wildflower "field". I've been looking at seed mixes, but I'm not really crazy about any of them. It seems like they contain a lot of "filler plants". I live in NY, my zone is 5b. The area gets some direct sun, but I'd say that most of it part shade, (some parts are nearly full sun). I like poppies, black eyed susans, lupines, phlox, and coneflowers. Are there any other suggestions for my area? What are the best poppies for this type of garden? Also, I have lupine in my garden but it doesn't seem to spread. Is there a "wild" variety? A combination of tall and short would be great. Thank you in advance. Lisa

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rbrady(5/Eastern Ia)

Visit the Lady bird Johnson Wildflower center website-they will have a list of recommendations for your area. Are you looking to plant a native meadow/prairie or just plant flowers in a field? Wildflowers are not necessarily native and most of the time the mixes sold are a mix of alien and native species and may or may not be suitable for your area. There are reputable sites that sell native prairie mixes-Prairie Moon Nursery, Ion Exchange, Prairie Nursery are just a few off the top of my head.

Just an FYI-I can't really think of any poppies that are native to your part of the US (Celandine Poppy is a woodlander). The poppies you are thinking of are probably an alien species or California Poppies which are native to the Western part.

Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 12:34PM
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lisa2004(NY Z5/6)

Hi Rhonda, thank you for your advice. I guess that despite my many years of gardening I don't know much about wildflowers. I will look at the websites you suggested. I guess I have a bit of time to learn a bit...spring still seems forever away.

I have no problem with seed mixes, except they seem to be full of plants that look a bit like weeds...

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 5:38PM
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Creating your own mix is a lot of fun. I usually collect most of my seed, but still end up purchasing a few odds and ends that I can't grow or collect enough of.

There is a wild variety of Lupine! I encourage you to buy and plant many. They do require a well-drained soil that is typically sandy in nature, but as long as it is well-drained you should be just fine. They spread prolifically by ejecting their seeds from the pods. In the future you will be able to collect the dark pods before they pop if you want to choose where you'd like them to go.

Mixes do contain a lot of filler plants, so designing your own may be best. Make sure to include some type of grass though. Without grasses your project will turn into a weedy mess in years to come and you will just want to start over. I'd recommend little bluestem since it is pretty tidy and isn't too aggressive. Plus it's short so you'll be able to see your flowers.

As for flower recommendations, you can purchase purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, and annual phlox for very little money. Yellow coneflower is also very inexpensive and simple to grow and maintain. I would highly recommend planting some Butterfly Milkweed seed though. "Butterflyweed" is a must in a wildflower garden and I'm sure that if you do a simple Google image search you'll agree. I recently planted another new prairie myself and you may find some inspiration in my project.

Here is a link that might be useful: Improved Ecosystems

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:36AM
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Unfortunately, lots of plants with pretty flowers look like weeds when they aren't in bloom. C'mon, doesn't a sunflower without a flower look like a weed? Doesn't a rose bush without roses look like scrub? Expect a lot of plants will look like weeds certain times of year.

Are you planning on mowing the area? Will it get walked on? How tall do you want it to get? If you plan on mowing it to a foot or two high, plants that bloom when they get three feet high won't get a chance to bloom. If you plant perennials, expect it may not bloom until next year. If you plant annuals, leave them up long enough to go to seed before mowing them.

If you are making your own mix, I'd recommend you mix it with mulch or sand to make it easier to scatter.

I'd suggest some local variety of sweet pea (as nitrogen fixer, such as Chamaecrista fasciculata) and NEW ENGLAND
ASTER (Symphyotrichum novae).

Looking at the date...what did you decide on?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 6:35PM
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