My neighbor’s wildflowers are in full bloom. Each spring his yard bursts into glorious bloom, yellow coreopsis and pink phlox jostle each other for space. The effect is dazzling and carefree. But the reality of the field of flowers is another thing. It took several years to get the display to its current state of excellence.

Wildflowers are possibly one of the easiest of flowers to grow, but they do have a few basic needs. A field of wildflowers takes more than just sprinkling out a few seeds. Timing of planting is important. Your future wildflower garden should get full sunshine, and if you are devoting a portion of your lawn to wildflowers as my neighbor has done, the wildflower plants in the area will need to be allowed to grow without being mowed or disturbed for about five months — January through May.

Here’s what the members of the Florida Wildflowers Cooperative suggest be done to establish a wildflower garden:

• For best results, do not till or disturb the soil.

• Thin turf cover: Broadcast the wildflower seed over the area then rake or drag the area to obtain seed-to-soil contact.

• Average turf cover: Scalp the turf to one inch, remove the clippings, then broadcast the seed over the area and replace the clippings evenly as a mulch. A mechanized seed drill can be used without removing the clippings.

• Heavy turf cover: Herbicide and let the area sit for one month. Scalp to one inch. Then broadcast the wildflower seed over the area then rake or drag the area to obtain seed-to-soil contact. 

NOTE: The establishment of wildflowers is not recommended for areas of heavy turf and areas of excessive weed infestation. The use of a mechanized seed drill designed for planting wildflowers produces the best results. The cooperative’s growers report that they produce seed of native wildflowers that are adapted to your area’s conditions in meadows, roadsides, natural areas and other non-cultivated sites.

That is important because wildflowers that are native to Florida, but are derived from other parts of the country do not necessarily perform well under different environmental conditions, especially in non-cultivated sites like those mentioned above. Under natural conditions, wildflower seed ripens and is dispersed by wind and animals in late summer, fall, and winter—the best time for planting. Following the natural cycles for the wildflower seed will produce the best germination the next season. If the seed is planted at other times of the year, the percentage of germination will be lowered and the overall effect of the bloom period will be greatly reduced, according to the cooperative. The cooperative recommends these planting periods:

• North Florida – November/December

• Central Florida – December/January

• South Florida – January