Growing Guide - Garden Flowers
We recommend garden flower seeds be sown indoors in trays or pots first to give you good strong plants. Fill trays with potting or seed rasing mix. Sprinkle seeds thinly - do not cover fine seed. Cover larger seed with a layer of mix twice the seed size. Gently water and place in warm area. Keep moist. When large enough, thin or transplant to the garden.
Fill trays with moist mix to rim and lightly firm. Don't sow all seeds just because they're there! Mix seed with sand or mix for even sowing. Cover seed with their own depth of mix. Don't cover fine seed. Don't let trays dry out. Harden off plants by placing them outside for a few days before planting.
Species chosen are all good strong self-seeders, but having gone through strict New Zealand MAF Biosecurity import criteria are not in any way regarded as noxious.
Where to sow - Anywhere! A square metre or two in a courtyard, dollops under roses or in the vegie garden, streams or drifts down the drive, or go for gold with a jolly good sized meadow!
Most wildflowers are sun lovers so make sure they receive at least 4-5 hours sun per day—the more the better! But, if nothing else is growing on your site, then wildflowers won’t either!
Soil Type - wildflowers grow well on average, well drained, reasonably friable soil types. Fertilising the area either prior to or during the growing of wildflowers is usually not necessary. Most usual garden situations are fine for growing wildflowers. Avoid wet or water logged soils.
Climate / When to Sow - Sowing can be any time from early spring to early summer and also again in autumn. If you have irrigation or reliable rainfall, then seed can be sown in summer as well. Autumn sown seeds will over- winter as a green sward and then burst forth for early spring flowering. Generally speaking, they need at least 15 degrees centigrade consistent day temperatures at soil surface. Prolonged cold wet conditions below this temperature will significantly affect germination.
Site Preparation - Wildflower seed must make contact with soil for them to grow. They will not grow if the seed lands on grass or weeds. Weeds and grasses must be completely removed and the soil surface broken up to a fine crumb structure. The objective is to have a clean, weed free site. Please contact us for detailed information on preparing a large weedy or grass covered site.
Organic Methods - There are a number of organic herbicides now available on the market - check your local retailer. Alternatives to herbicide sprays are salt spray, boiling water or overlaying mown areas with a weed free mulch of 50 mm plus. Burning off weeds with a flame gun is very effective. Information on this is available from www.primusgardener.co.nz Otherwise, lightly cultivate the soil surface several times to remove weeds, allowing them dry out on the soil surface each time.
Sowing Seed - Sow seed to our maximum recommended area rates on good quality soils, if you’ve put good effort into site preparation so your site is clean and weed free, and if you are able to supply additional water during germination. Sow seed to the minimum recommended area rates if you have very tough or poor quality soil, or if you suspect excessive competition from weeds.
For an even distribution of seed a carrier agent is essential to mix with the seed - use at least 15 -20 parts of a coarse material such as dry river sand or pumice (even potting mix) to 1 part of seed. For larger areas a hand held fertilizer spreader is ideal.
Ensure the seed is well mixed then broadcast as uniformly as possible over the prepared area. Lightly rake or water the seed into the soil.
Aftercare & Flowering - Like all other seeds wildflower seeds require ample moisture for the first 4-6 weeks to germinate and establish. They can then usually survive with minimum rainfall and should not need extra watering. Major weeds that reappear can to be pulled by hand or spot sprayed during early stages of growth. Flowering should begin within about 8-10 weeks from a spring or summer sowing.
Once flowering has finished and the plants look a bit untidy then the area can be trimmed or mown down. If lots of weeds have crept in then spray the whole area immediately, before any new wildflower growth. Then mow or mulch the whole bed to a fine trash. If the soil surface has hardened off again, lightly cultivate to break this cap to encourage new seedling growth.
If there are not many weeds in the area then cut everything down and leave the trimmings on the ground to drop their seed for next season. Pull out, hoe or spot spray any weeds. A light cultivation or rake over is recommended to encourage reseeding.
More fresh seeds may be required every second year or so until the area becomes self-perpetuating, especially if there has been a weed problem. For best effect sow up to 50% of the original amount. Over time some species may become more dominant than others due to local climates and conditions.