Let's talk about seed rolls

LaurelLily(9a Houston, TX)March 27, 2007

You know what I'm talking about--the seed rolls that you see on the infomercials, or Wal-Mart this time of year, or the ABC catalog. It's this mat with fertilizer and seeds worked into it, and you unroll it and water it and it magically grows wonderful flowers for you just like that (supposedly!).

Well, it sure sounded like a good idea to me, since 1) I'm pants at distrubuting seed evenly over a large area, and I've tried all the tips about how distribute seed, and 2) when I do try direct sowing a large area, the birds eat all my seeds (I'm ok with that because I love my birdie friends, but--sheesh, it's no secret that they love the bird feeder, so it would be nice if they left my flower seeds alone in the soil). The seed rolls seemed like a good way to cover a few feet of soil with seeds, and I hoped it would be harder for the birds to eat the seeds (both because the seeds are in the "fabric" of the roll, and because the Miracle Grow style of fertilizer might not make the seeds yummy.

Anyway, I've tried these seed rolls twice, and nothing is happening (except the weeds get out of control, because I'm not sure what the seedlings for the "butterfly mix" roll look like... so I let everything sprout, then... sure enough, grass and dollar weed and such!).

Who else has tried these seed rolls, and what was your experience? Any tips or brands I should look for? Are these a big rip-off, or am I doing something wrong? Or maybe the birds are still eating the seeds, even though they're mixed in with chemical fertilizer!

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I tried them for a mixture of seeds and got alyssum. Yep, that's all I got plus a carpet of weeds.

When I am charitable about this, I presume the seeds aren't right for our zone. When I'm not I presume I was snookered.

What were you trying to grow? I've had good luck with seeds from wildseed farms and any place where they are reasonably fresh.

Maybe you are missing some simply step or need for the particular seeds you want to grow


    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 3:51PM
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LaurelLily(9a Houston, TX)

cynthianovak, thank you for the reply! I'm glad it's not just me who's given into temptation and tried these.

I was trying to grow wildflowers that would attract butterflies--that's it, nothing fancy. I wanted to direct sow because--well, because wildflowers should be able to handle direct sowing! And I wanted to use a seed mixture to save money and get a large variety of flowers.

I've sown wildflower seeds in this spot at least five times (various brands/e-tailers) over the last couple years, and all I get are weeds. I was so frustrated--I grow a lot of very interesting plants, and I can't grow wildflowers! But then I found the birds pecking away at that garden bed a day after I put out a round of seeds, and I realized they were eating all my seeds and that's why I can't get anything to grow there! I direct sow other seeds in various spots, and I always expect some seeds to be eaten by critters, but I think this empty bed with so many kinds of seeds was just a buffet the birds could not resist.

I was really hoping this seed mat would help protect the seeds from birds long enough for them to grow into plants--I thought maybe they wouldn't pick at the seeds so much in this format. And now I can't tell if I just bought a shoddy brand, am doing something wrong, or if the birds are still getting the seeds. I can tell you that the birds in my yard are little gluttons, and very well fed with the feeder I'm constantly refilling.

I probably need to just admit defeat with direct sowing in this bed, and start a bunch of cuttings to populate it without spending a fortune. It's a little embarassing, though, that the last bouquet my husband bought for me contained carnations, roses, lilies--I teased him for buying me flowers that I grow in the yard--but I cannot get the wildflowers to sprout. Embarassing! LOL

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 4:14PM
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I bought a seed roll from a fundraiser at my daughters school last year and it actually worked! I was amazed as I'd tried these kind of things before with little/no growth of flowers! Sorry I can't remember anything else (like the company or really even what types of flowers) but just wanted to let y'all know there could be hope... I just rolled it out, threw some mulch over it, and had some flowers pop up throughout last summer. Even see a few "volunteers" popping up this spring.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 4:29PM
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Well, laurellily, wildflowers *ARE* weeds. (to some people) That's why they're called "wildflowers".

The seeds are food for wildlife, which is why the birds ate it all up. They thought you'd thrown it out there for them.

Read the list of flowers on the package, then go look each of 'em up. Most of them will be classified as invasive or weeds.
So I'd say you got what the package said you'd get. :)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 5:11PM
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Laurel, when I lived at the other place, I got those mats and like you the birds ate the seeds.
After the second year, I threw birdseed out in a big area to keep the birds busy where a larger amount of food was.
My brother did something similar, he put a lot of birdfood in garbage can lids and kept them busy
We finally got the wildflowers, to this there is a meadow of them out there

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:05PM
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LaurelLily(9a Houston, TX)

Jolana, maybe I do need to give the birds EXTRA seeds of their own, to distract them. ; )

They're really starting to spread out now instead of all hanging out together near the feeder, but that's because it's nesting time and they're getting more territorial.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 10:58AM
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