Gardening with Wildflowers

Gardening with Wildflowers

By Michael Jenkins

There are many ways to create a beautiful garden, and one of the joys of gardening is that you can create an entire world in your garden space by incorporating plants from all over the world. Exotics and “imported” plants can be wonderful, but our native plants can be equally stunning. Gardening with native wildflowers is a way to celebrate the unique flora of your corner of the world, while also supporting native species of all kinds. Wildflower gardening brings so much to any yard, patio, or container garden, so let’s dig in!

Let’s touch briefly on the philosophy of wildflower gardens. Unlike manicured landscaping and carefully composed floral beds, wildflower gardens are more often a chance to let nature take the wheel and create a beautifully chaotic space that celebrates the plants themselves. Think of it like a wild meadow, filled with flowers growing where they see fit and in the best ways for them. It’s not as organized as many kinds of landscaping, but it creates a wonderful visual effect. Wildflowers also attract pollinators of all kinds, support local wildlife, and add a touch of natural, untamed flavor to a garden.

While wildflower gardens will look different in different places, depending on your local conditions and hardiness zone, there are a few general considerations for creating a successful wildflower garden:

  • Use local, native plants whenever possible in order to get the most out of your wildflower garden for both you and the wildlife around you. Native flowering plants know how to thrive under you conditions, celebrate the history and biodiversity of your landscape, and connect your garden to the natural history of the world in which it resides. Local garden stores and nurseries often sell seeds for such plants, and as always your local garden club or agricultural extension office are generally excellent sources of information. Many state and provincial governments also have programs that give away native plant seeds for free, so do a quick internet search and see if you can find something like that near you.

  • Get seeds from reputable sources for best results and minimal frustration. We’ve discussed the ins and outs of buying seeds before in this blog, and all of that advice applies to a wildflower garden. Quality seeds are foundational in creating a good flower garden of any kind, so make sure you’re using them.
  • Give your plants the right conditions to thrive! It’s tempting to view wildflowers as a “set it and forget it” kind of gardening—and sometimes they can be. It’s best however to give your wildflowers the same attention you would any other part of your garden. They may not need as much water, compost, or overall care as a more manicured garden, but pay attention to them and give them the support and love they need. This may mean doing a little research, and some of the links we’ve included in this article should help you get started.

  • Yes, you can grow wildflowers in containers!Y ou don’t need a huge space to enjoy the beauty of wildflowers—as long as they get enough sun, many wildflowers will happily thrive in containers. As always, different plants have different needs, but it helps to use a good potting mix, a well drained, well ventilated container, and to make sure your plants get enough light and the right temperature conditions for them. However, container gardening is a great way to bring wildflowers to your patio or indoor garden—as always  at Gardzen we feel that gardening is for everyone!
  • And in closing, we’ll offer a sobering reminder: You will need to weed your wildflower garden. Many weeds are invasive—Bermuda grass and St Augustine grass are the bane of many a flowerbed—and they can choke out your wildflowers. While you may be more tolerant of some “weeds”—dandelions make a wonderful addition to a wildflower bed—your wildflowers will still need you to weed the space around them, particularly early in their development.

Wildflower gardening is a great way to bring a beautiful, natural spirit to a corner of your garden or a corner of your home. There are thousands and thousands of plants considered ‘wildflowers’, and since we encourage you to explore native plants wherever possible we won’t try to list them all here. We do however hope that the advice and resources we’ve offered in this blog help you get started. And if you do plant wildflowers this year, please send us some photos and show us how it turned out!

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