When it comes to a wildflower garden, we need to manage expectations, says Scott Evans, horticulture program coordinator for the Nebraska Extension of Douglas-Sarpy Counties.
“We often get people who think that you can throw out seeds and walk away and by magic you get a prairie planting,” he said. “This is not the case.”
- Start small. Pick a location with full sun to part shade. “Ideally, the spot should receive at least six to seven hours of uninterrupted direct sunlight,” Evans said.
- If starting from seed, the existing plant life needs to be killed off, either chemically or manually. If it is turf, rent a sod cutter or use a drain tile shovel to remove the sod. Tilling the soil is not recommended because it brings dormant seeds to the surface.
- Choose a wildflower seed mix that is local. “We were once a prairie state, and up to 80% of the flora was grasses,” Evans said. “Choose a mix that has low-growing native grasses along with annual and perennial flowers. We want regionally native plants that are adapted to our weather.”
- Toss the seeds out and cover with a light layer of compost or even burlap. The seeds will need to keep damp.
- Consider butterfly milkweed, plains coreopsis, purple coneflower, dwarf goldenrod, hoary vervain, dotted gayfeather, blue flax, Tennessee coneflower, liatris and ironweed.