by Mike Lizotte

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we rise from our winter slumber, Mother Nature treats us with blasts of spring warmth that awaken our gardening senses.  At American Meadows, our phones start ringing with questions from gardeners all across the country ready to get their hands dirty! Wildflower slope.

As the air temperatures begin to warm, we’ve prepared an area for a wildflower planting, got our seed down and anticipate quick germination and flowers shortly after.  Or you may have planting in the fall for early spring color.

But as certain as spring arrives so do the calls during April/early May months from customers wondering why their seeds aren’t doing anything.  Or if they have germinated, there’s been minimal growth.

Through over 20 years of advising wildflower enthusiasts, I have created this analogy that seems to resonate with both the novice and avid gardeners alike.

“Go jump in Lake Michigan in April.”

My delivery is usually a bit softer than that, but the idea is simple.  Like a large body of water, ground temperatures take a long time to warm.  We all get garden fever after that first 80 degree day, but it’s often weeks before the ground is warm enough for germination.  Like a large body of water, ground temperatures take much longer to warm that most people realize. With cool ground temperatures it can take a little longer during these early spring weeks for germination to occur.

Ideally we would like ground temperatures to be at about 55 degrees for optimal germination to occur.  Certainly we can’t forget the role proper moisture and high quality wildflower seeds also play a role in the success of your planting.  With these optimal conditions your wildflower seed should germinate in 7-10 days if not sooner!  Here’s a great link to help with determining ground temperatures in your area;

Certainly if you’re one of those people who sowed earlier and your seeds haven’t shown signs of life don’t panic.  With a little help from Mother Nature and the gradual warming of the ground temperatures your seeds should begin germinating and you’ll be on your way to a meadow of beautiful wildflowers!

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