'Wildflowers in a Can/Box'

jenkinApril 14, 2002

I am very new to gardening and I've seen a lot of disparaging remarks about the "wildflowers in a can/box." We are in a rental house with lots of gardening room and I wanted to get a wildflower effect (simple) the most inexpensive way possible. So, I have bought several different kinds of packs, boxes and cans of flowers. I have planted a few packs, have a couple of packs & cans unopened and am wondering if I should return the unopened ones and try something new or just go for it (what the heck, eh?). What do you think? Here's a breakdown of what I've put out and what I have left to put out.

Already put out (last Sunday (4/7/02):

1) Ed Hume Seeds - Hummingbird & Butterfly Flower Garden Mixture (seed pack) - includes Rose Mallow, Candytuft, Foxglove, Coneflower, Gayfeather, Asclepias, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Monarda, Phlox, Lavender, Crimson Clover, Gilia, Penstemon, Delphinum, Gaillardia, Salvia, Lupine, Bachelors Buttons, Columbine, Cleome, Gloriosa Daisy, Godetia, Scabiosa and Zinnia.

2) Ed Hume Seeds - Perennial Rock Garden Low Growing Flower Mixture (seed pack) - includes Alyssum, Arabis, Aubretia, Dianthus, English Daisy, Iberis, Livingstone Daisy, Lobelia, Phlox, Portulaca, Thyme, Campanula, Cerastium, Armeria, Saponaria and Dwarf Catchchfly.

3) Ed Hume Seeds - Perennial Flower Garden Mix (seed pack) - includes Lupine, Gloriosa and Shasta Daisies, Iceland Poppy, Hollyhock, Delphinium, Columbine, Sallflower, Coreopsis and Gaillardia.

Bought, but not put out yet:

1) Ed Hume Seeds - Children's Garden Cut Flower Mixture (seed pack) - includes Alyssum, Babysbreath, Bachelor Buttons, Balsam, Calendula, Candytuft, Clarkia, Cosmos, Dianthus, Godetia, Larkspur, Linaria, Marigold, Nemophila, Painted Daisy, Poppy, Stocks and Zinnia.

2) Ed Hume Seeds - Meadow Mixture Wildflower and Pasture Seeds (seed pack) - includes Yarrow, Bachelor Buttons, Columbine, Wallflower, Shasta Daisy, Clarkia, Chinese Houses, Coreopsis, Larkspur, Dianthus, California Poppy, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Dame's Rocket, Blue Flax, Red Flax, Spurred Snapdragon, Alyssum, Lupine, Gilia, Candytuft, Nemophila, Evening Primrose, Iceland Poppy, Shirley Poppy, Foxglove, Rudbeckia, Dill, Catchfly, Rye Grain, Crimson Clover and Sheep Fescue.

3) Better Homes and Gardens Wildflower Seed Mixture for Atracting Hummingbirds (Can - over 75,000 seeds) - includes 30% Flower Seed Mixture (No individual component exceeds 5% of total mixture). Pheasant's Eye, Canterbury Bell, Siberian Wallflower, Wallflower, Clarkia, Tickseed, Cosmos, Larkspur, Sweet William, Farewell-To-Spring, Mallow, Baby Snapdragon, Scarlet Flax, Maltese Cross, Malope, Lemon Mint, Flander's Poppy, Phlox, Pink Soapwort, Silene, Zinnia. NOTE: 70% Inert Matter, Germination: 70%.


I also have a 30' x 3' section & 15' x 3' section that already has some trees and bushes in it that I was going to use the following mixture in:

1) Plantation Products - Petunia Mixed Colors (Pelleted) - 4.40% Petnunia hybrida (Pelleted) and 95.6% Inert Matter.

2) Plantation Products - Alyssum Carpet of Snow Border Mix - .88% Lobularia maritima and 99.12% Inert Matter


Ok, that's it - any suggestions, critiques, or just go ahead and try's are more than welcome. As I said before, only renting at this time and wanted to do something inexpensive, but pretty flowers. Am I asking too much to think that the above might work?

Thank you very much!!!

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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

All the mixes contain some annual, some perennial garden flowers. None are really "wild", they are horticultural. The mixtures contain plants that are quite varied in their requirements for sun, shade and moisture so some may do better than others in your yard.

If you had bought individual named flower seeds and started them early in flats indoors, you could be planting out plants now instead of seeds. You could have selected flowers to suit your sun, soil and moisture. And since you would know the name of each plant and thus its colour, form and size you could plan their placement like in a traditional perennial border.

A traditional border is designed with the shorter plants at the front, taller ones at the back; colours are selected to complement one another and avoid clashes; textures and forms of flowers and leaves are varied and placed to complement; flowers times are planned so that all areas of the border have something flowering all season.

Designing a border is time consuming and finding the plants can be expensive. So, in a rental house, if you simply want an inexpensive, colourful mix of flowers in an unplanned jumble, don't mind waiting for germination and don't mind reseeding next year, go ahead with the cans.

How much sun do the sections with trees and shrubs get? The flowers you have chosen for there want sun.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2002 at 11:22PM
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I just planted can flowers for the second year. I used a Martha Stewart mix from Kmart. Last year it looked beautiful. After the 3 weeks or so that it took to germinate and grow a bit, the blooms lasted well into October.

I try to stick with natives in my garden, and this mix does include rudbeckia and echinacea, but I wanted some inexpensive instant color, since I was starting from scratch on a newly built lot. So I didn't mind the non-natives mixed in. They certainly did not get out of control, but I can see why people don't recommend this for a large-scale meadow planting. I'd say go for it! It will be much more interesting than grass.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2002 at 8:33PM
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With areas that small, you would be much better off starting with bareroot perennial forbs and grasses. My "prairie"--two areas about 20 x 4 feet each--were started with plants from Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin. You plant in fall, and most plants bloom the next season. You know what you're getting (all natives, all perennials), and you can arrange them however you want. If you wind up with bare areas, you will have plenty of divisions (and seedlings) the next year. You need about 1 plant per square foot.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2002 at 9:45AM
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I know this is a bit late, lol, but last year we bought a can of shade loving flower mix from Wal Mart. I dont know the name on the can but it was in a large Parmesean cheese type cardboard can with the turnstyle top. We had 2 puiny flowers from that can even after amending the soil with lots of compost to make it nice and fertile. The only mixes Ill ever buy again are the kind that are simply packets of seeds. Not the kind in a can with fillers.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2003 at 9:35AM
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kayakita(z9 TX)

An excellent source for large and small bags of wildflowers especially mixed for ALL different regions of the USA is Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg, Texas. Last year, I planted a few small packets of their wildflowers in my new wild garden and this spring was thrilled to find small patches of lovely wildflowers (including the much coveted state flower, the Texas Bluebonnet). You can check out their site and order a free catalog online at www.wildseedfarms.com or write to Box 3000, Fredericksburg, TX 78624. My daughter and I also visited the farm a few weeks ago amd the vast fields of beautiful wildflowers were awesome! Check it out.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2003 at 1:17AM
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willgarden4food(z5 MO)

Hi, just now read your post about wild flower mixes. We did a rocky mountain wild flower mix on a sloping side yard area at our last house. Honestly, the first year it was show stopping, we loved it and had tons of compliments. However, the following years it really declined in looks, the very tall golden yarrow became extreamly invasive and hard to get rid of.

just my opinion.....maybe do some research on the selections to find if there are any aggressive types.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 8:02PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

the only thing that raises a red flag is the Linaria in the childrens garden mix. You might want to make sure it the non-invasive species before going ahead and planting. I can't imagine them putting common butter and eggs or dalmations toadflax (Linaria vulgaris or Linaria dalmatica) in their seed mix but you never know. Both are listed noxious weeds in your state.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 10:21PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

typically the box mixes will produce some flowers but they may or may not be all native and generally they wont all be native to your area.... where did the seeds come from in the box and do they sell that same box all over the country. alot of people have had poor results with the box mix and may not try again and worse yet may even tell other people not to bother with the wildflowers as its not what its cracked up to be...a quality native seed mix produces a plot of flowers that performs better as it matures - the inexpensive box mixes typically degrade over time and unless enhanced with new plants look worse as time goes buy...

i have heard alot of people starting with a cheap box mix and then adding quality plants as their budgets allowed...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 9:47AM
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Mixes are a bunch of stuff thrown together.
I do that sometimes but most often the best way to garden is to plan what we want and just buy plants.
Yes it costs a little bit more to buy an already growing seedling or sapling, but it is a lot more likely to succeed.

With seed mixes: if we sow outdoors we have less control over what we get or how it is laid out. But.....sometimes the results are spectacular. We had a large bush breaking up a front planter and upon taking it out: just planted some Plantation Products wildflower mix and have a few pretty clusters of Chrysanthemums, Daisies, Poppies, and Cornflowers. Cant say that I am not pleased.

The real problem with the mix is that not all of the plants have the same needs for soil, water or light and the downside is that we tend to care in a way that only favors some of the plants which thrive while others just do not survive. Of course the advantage is that we can get a wider variety of color and blooms during more of the year with minimal effort. I suggest that everyone try a mix at least once (if not a few times) early in gardening and see what you get. Even though I have done them before, I still enjoy a mix sometimes. It is a fun way to learn flowers and plants that we otherwise might not try and it is also fun to be the only one on the block with certain colors or types of flowers.

I grow flowers to supplement beauty of our home and as a bonus to give the bees in the area some variety and desire to come visit our herb garden! (We spoil the bees at our home).

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 2:37PM
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