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Most wildflowers are grown from seeds sown in fall, although some species can be found as plants in containers at nurseries in spring. In addition, a few of the selections recommended here are cultivated annuals, not true wildflowers.
Avoid "instant" meadow mixes, and instead look for quality, locally grown or collected seed. It is not necessary to sow a large meadow to enjoy wildflowers. Start by seeding small areas to gain experience and to see what you like. Select several wildflower species that will bloom at the same time, and experiment with color combinations, such as the yellow-gold of Mexican gold poppy with purple owl's clover. Over the years a wildflower garden will take on its own character as plants reseed, spread, and mature.
Choose a sunny location that receives about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Rake to loosen the soil or decomposed granite to a depth of an inch or two.
To help distribute tiny seeds more evenly, mix wildflower seeds with sand, fine soil, or fine organic mulch before sowing. Use two or more cups for each teaspoon of seed. Scatter seed mix and lightly rake to ensure that seeds make contact with the soil. Sowing too deeply can discourage seeds from germinating.
Spring-blooming wildflowers will need the help of fall and winter rains to germinate. If rainfall is insufficient, water several times a week until seedlings are established to ensure a colorful display in the spring. When seedlings are a few inches tall, water as necessary when plants show signs of stress.
After wildflowers have put on their show, they will set seeds. Letting the plants dry out and the seeds fall to the ground will set the stage for another display next spring. Seeds can also be collected and used for planting next season. Dried plants can simply be pulled or cut to the ground. Keep in mind that some communities may have restrictions on wildflowers or guidelines for cleanup.
Spring-blooming wildflowers are best planted in the fall from mid-September through mid-November. Summer bloomers are best planted in early spring.