Wildflowers are becoming an increasingly popular landscape alternative in this region ... they add color and natural beauty to any area. Unlike European-style formal gardens with straight lines, square corners and manicured edges, low maintenance wildflower gardens require little water or mowing once established.
      But that doesn't mean wildflowers are easily grown from seed. Indeed, while some species require little more effort than casting seeds on the soil, most require specific soil and temperature conditions, a certain degree of ongoing attention and, most of all, patience. Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg has a Web site that ranks the most popular species with an average "planting success" rate, using a scale of 10-100 percent. Species with a lower percentage ratio may require more time and attention, but they will be well worth your effort. Additional information about the temperament of each species is also included at the site.
      Unlike ornamental flower or vegetable seeds, most of wildflower seeds have not been genetically altered to achieve specific traits such as rapid germination, height, color or adaptation to specific soil types or climates.
      As wildflower enthusiasts, we want to produce in two to three years a display of color to match what has taken Mother Nature hundreds of years to achieve. Nature plays an important role in the success or failure of all wildflower plantings. Adverse weather conditions such as drought, hail or excessive rainfall may seriously affect your success.
      If you want things like Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes in your landscape in the spring, you need to plant seeds in October and November. Many species will quickly germinate after planting in order to allow the seedling enough time to establish a healthy root system before going dormant for the winter. Some seeds may not germinate if the ground temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Those will remain dormant until early spring and will begin to emerge under more favorable conditions.
      Keep in mind the two main keys to success when sowing wildflowers: the seeds need to be in contact with soil, and you've got to keep a handle on weeds.