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Wildflower Aftercare: To Mow (Or Not To Mow) At The End Of The Season

mowing-meadow-sunflowers

If possible, leave your wildflowers up through the winter to help feed the birds. We think it's beautiful, too!

To mow or not to mow? This is a question we’re asked daily by wildflower gardeners throughout the country. And the answer really isn’t that straightforward; it depends on your preference and the wildflowers.

Personally, in my garden, I like to leave my wildflowers standing tall for the winter. I find that this not only gives the birds a tasty, easy-to-reach treat, but it also helps my annuals re-seed for the next season. It may not look pristine, but there is a certain beauty to the snow gathering on your once-green wildflowers. Come spring, I mow everything down and make sure it’s ready to sprout new growth.

mowing-wildflowers-meadow

When mowing down your wildflowers, use the highest setting of your brush mower or lawnmower. 

Another option is to mow most of your meadow down and leave a section standing for the birds. For those of you who prefer a cleaner look, this gives you most of the benefits of mowing the wildflowers down and also leaving some varieties for the birds to snack on. In the section that you did mow, remember to leave the cut foliage on the ground until spring.

Finally, if your wildflowers somehow become diseased or you live in an area that has strict cosmetic restrictions, you can absolutely mow down your meadow at the end of the season. If your wildflowers are diseased, make sure to rake up and dispose of them after you mow them down. If you’re just mowing for aesthetic reasons, leave the cut foliage on the ground – you’ll be surprised at how many birds will come and feast on the seeds! Also, leaving the cuttings increases the chances of reseeding the following spring.

sunflower-seeds-ground

Birds have already snacked on this large Sunflower bloom left on the ground after being cut down.

No matter what time you’re mowing down or cutting back your wildflowers, it’s important that you do so with plenty of time for new growth to be able to come up and flourish. So if you’re waiting until the spring, make sure it’s one of the first things you do in the garden.

If you have questions about which approach to take in your garden, don’t hesitate to call our helpful gardening team at (877) 309-7333, or use our live chat function on our website. Happy Gardening!

4 thoughts on “Wildflower Aftercare: To Mow (Or Not To Mow) At The End Of The Season”

  • Tara Gandolfo

    I ordered a perennial spring wildflower mix which I planted after frost. Nothing sprouted but a wry few purple
    Flowers and lots of thistle grass and weeds. My friend who recommended your company said to leave it be not weed and next year I should see flowers. It is so overgrown and looks horrible.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Hi Tara,

      Thank you for your order! If you planted the perennial wildflower mixture, it is normal to have just green growth in the first year. Perennial wildflowers in their first year will only show their foliage (which can sometimes look like weeds!) and then will bloom in their second season in the garden and for years after. This coming spring and summer you should be delighted with an abundance of blooms and if not, please give us a call and we will be more than happy to find a replacement mixture (or refund) for you.

      Happy Gardening,

      Amanda

      Reply
  • anita jorgensen

    Hi - The fellow who cuts my mostly cone flower meadow has been cutting it down to exposed dirt. in some areas it almost appears as if he used a plow to churn it up. Last summer there seemed to be fewer blooms, as my meadow is typically an explosion of color and flowers.

    Question:
    What guidance can i give to my meadow mower? is there a recommended mower? a recommended height (I've read 5" to 8")?

    Many thanks,
    Anita

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Hi Anita - Great question! Coneflowers are a fantastic candidate for leaving up throughout the winter. This helps them naturally re-seed as well as gives birds plenty to snack on. If you do need to mow down in the fall, you can cut them down to the ground but just want to make sure you're not churning the roots up and removing them. Everything underground should remain as is -- he is essentially just cutting back the growth above ground. I hope this helps! - Amanda

      Reply
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