So, you have your heart set on creating a wildflower meadow and those packages of mixed seeds beckon you from the stands, irresistibly. You picture wild flowers and the thought of perpetual, zero maintenance beauty springs to mind. Wild flower meadows are not low maintenance, at least not for the first five or six years, while they are getting established.
First of all, a wildflower meadow is not the same as a wildflower garden. Tall grass is an integral part of what makes it thrive as a whole and not something that can be easily accommodated on a small residential lot.
If you have the room and the energy to build this little natural preserve in your back yard, here are a few things to keep in mind.
The wildflower mix includes annuals, biennial and perennials plants. This will, during the first three or four years, yield somewhat disappointing results: the first year you’ll see mostly annuals, the biennials will only bloom during their second year, and the perennials will not be mature until their third or fourth year.
The annual plants will volunteer seeds for the following spring, but they’ll be fewer than you planted the year before and you won’t have a lot of control over where they sprout. This requires work from the gardener to relocate and reseed, a task not easily accomplished in the tall grass.
Biennials will be spotty and unreliable until they go through enough cycles to generate two year old plants every year.
The perennials are the easiest to work with: once they sprout and thrive, you can relocate and divide them to fill any place you like and they’ll easily adapt to it.
Once established, a flower meadow is it’s own little world, attracting butterflies, bees, birds and little animals that you may not have seen in your back yard before. Meadows are self reliant and require nothing in terms of food or water, as long as they have continuous sun exposure with absolutely no shade. That doesn’t mean you can kick back and relax, if you want any control over the ‘natural’ beauty of this little bit of wilderness you’ll need to weed, deadhead, divide and reseed it the way you would any flower border.