Wildflowers for Christmas & Other Gifts for Gardeners

Gardeners are some “tough customers” on our annual gift lists; it’s hard to know what they like or need. Here are a couple of suggestions:

First: Wildflower seeds for the gardener in your life trigger winter-long dreams of spring.

Second: A Watters gift card as a stocking stuffer is always well received. Now, if your wife, mom, or dad really wants a sweater for Christmas, get them a sweater! But if folks you care about really love their gardens, a gift card from Watters makes perfect sense. Next spring, they can stop by and pick out precisely what they want or really need. We all know it’s not the same as the garden plants they’ve been thinking about, but, hey, it’s winter! Gardeners will understand.

I usually wait until the first rains in January to write about wildflowers. However, this year our winter weather has been absolutely perfect for spreading wildflower seed. With a few good storms, wildflowers will be spectacular this spring!

The high country of Arizona has the perfect climate for wildflowers, but there are a few secrets to successful sowing.

First, there’s the seed mix. I’ve been blending my own Yavapai Wildflower mixes for the garden purist for the past few years. These are genuinely wild seeds best suited for high elevation gardens. Some blends are Parade of Poppies, the Arizona Wildflower Mix, Butterfly, and Hummingbird blends. For those in the forest surrounded by deer, my Deer Resistant Wildflower mix. These are the best blends of genuinely wild seeds collected throughout the Rocky Mountains for Yavapai County.

The basic requirements of wildflower seeds are their need for cold and freezing weather, followed by the thaws of late winter and early spring. We have a few weekends to plant wildflowers, but we really should be finished by Valentine’s Day.

Four simple steps make a big difference between wildflower success and failure. Here are the specific planting techniques you can count on to guarantee breath-taking waves of wildflowers:

#1: Select and prepare the area. Wildflowers, except for those that are shade-loving, need a considerable amount of sunshine, so choose an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily during the growing season.

Planting in weed-free soil ensures optimal results, so pull out any growth you don’t want to mix with your wildflowers. Then rake the seedbed to loosen the top 1-2″ inches of soil. Use this step to add 7-4-4- All Purpose Plant Food into the garden bed. This combined step prepares the garden to receive your wild seed and encourages sturdy new flowers this spring. The food slowly releases and precisely what’s needed during the germination period for better flowers.

#2: Create your own hydro mulch. Many wildflower seeds are so tiny you can barely tell where they have been spread in the gardens. Here’s an insider tip: Pour a bag of Watters Premium Mulch into a wheelbarrow and mix in your favorite seed. Spread this seed-mulch blend over the prepared seedbed. This simple trick helps you see where your seed is placed, ensures good seed-to-soil contact, insulates the seed, and camouflages them from hungry birds.

#3 Humic Deep Roots: Sprinkle a top coat of Natural Guard Humic over the garden when your seed is spread. Completely natural, Humic supports deeper roots and more intense flower colors in spring. This granular nutrient is essential to spread over wildflowers to encourage hardier seeds.

#4: Keep them moist. Wildflowers require supplemental water if they don’t receive enough rain or snow in winter. Your new wildflower garden should receive 1″ inch of rain or 6″ inches of snow 2X per month until germination starting in February. Once your new seedling erupts from the garden, they are happier with 1″ of water per week. A layer of snow over your seedbed is perfect for wildflowers. It maximizes germination without extra watering.

#5: Spread the Magic: next fall, after the bloom is over and the flowers are drying and drooping to the ground, it’s time to spread the wildflower magic. I used an electric lawnmower and cut the garden back to the ground. You can do the job by hand, or even better, a weed whacker works well for this job. Besides pruning back your garden, this sends the next spring’s flowers flying through the gardens.

To my Jewish friends, I trust you had a blessed Hanukkah, to my Christian friends a jovial Merry Christmas, and to all others the Happiest of Holidays.

Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners with wildflowers and gift cards here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at WattersGardenCenter.com or  Top10Wildflowers.com.

 

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