With more than 35 years of experience helping gardeners grow wildflowers across the country, American Meadows has become famous for our wildflower seed mixes. How do these mixtures come to life, and what sets them apart from wildflower seed mixes found at box stores or big garden centers? Our resident wildflower expert, Mike “The Seed Man” Lizotte, shares answers to these questions, and more!
Q: What are the steps to creating an American Meadows Wildflower Seed Mix?
Mike Lizotte: "What I first like to identify are the objectives of the mix: Are we looking for quick color, are we looking for longevity, or is there a color theme to the mix? Are we trying to attract pollinators, or is there a special situation like shade or drought? I try to identify one to three of those conditions that we can focus on, and start from there.
Once I’ve identified a few of these special uses, I begin putting a list of species together. If I’m working on creating a pollinator mixture, there are aspects to consider - such as the life cycles of each wildflower in the mix. Is it going to be a mix of annuals and perennials, or is it going to be exclusive to one life cycle? Also, if I was creating a mixture for pollinators, I look at the ratio of native to non-native species, which can really vary depending on the type of mix."
Q: How do you create a seasonal Wildflower Mix that changes every year?
ML: "When formulating our one-of-a-kind seasonal Spring Into Summer Mix or our Fall Maximum Mix, there are a couple of things I consider. We always want to have a lot of variety in this mixture. I think that’s a big appeal - it’s kind of like an all-inclusive mixture. We’re usually looking for a variety count of over 40 species for our Spring Into Summer Mix, which is really unique. You’re not going to find any other company, whether a big box store or even another online source, that offers a mixture with that type of variety in it."
Q: How do you make sure the wildflower mixes will thrive in different climates throughout the country?
ML: "When we identify the wildflower varieties we want to use in mixtures, the nice thing is most of them are hardy across multiple zones. In gardening, you hear the term "zone" a lot, especially when dealing with live plants, since some varieties tend to be more specific for certain climates. But one of the most attractive things about wildflowers is they aren’t so zone specific. For example, Echinacea (also known as Purple Coneflower) is a perennial that's hardy across multiple zones - you could grow it from a zone 2 to a zone 9.
Once we formulate a mix and have approximately 30 species, I then refine and examine the hardiness of each species. I will pare down until I feel really good about a mix that is hardy enough to grow in a large geographical area in the United States."
American Meadows seed mix on the left, versus the big box store on the right.
Q: What sets American Meadows wildflower mixes apart from something you can buy in a store?
ML: "There are three important aspects. First and foremost, everything that we sell at American Meadows is 100% pure seed. In most stores, when you see a wildflower blend, usually you’ll find that those mixtures are anywhere from 75-90% filler and only about 25% or less of actual seed. So you’re getting a much better value when you buy seed from American Meadows.
Second, we offer exceptional variety. Many of the mixtures from big box stores don’t have a lot of variety - most might average 10-15 species, where most of American Meadows' mixtures will have upwards of 20-25 species. Most of the varieties in the store-bought mixes are designed for instant gratification - with a lot of annuals that offer instant color, but not much longevity. At American Meadows, we do offer annual mixes for anyone who is looking specifically for a quick-blooming result. However, the majority of our mixes, such as our popular Regional Wildflower Seed Mixes, have a nice variety of annuals and perennials -- So you’ll not only enjoy that nice color in the first season from the annuals, but you’ll also get the longevity of the perennials for the second and successive seasons.
Last but not least, our wildflower seeds are 100% Non-GMO and Neonicotinoid-free. Plus, we stand behind our products with our Guarantee. We've built a good reputation over more than 35 years in business. We're here to help our customers create wildflower meadows that look beautiful and last. You can always call our customer service team for helpful advice on how to grow your wildflowers, or use our planting guides.
Our mixtures and our service are head and shoulders above what you’ll find in the big box stores."
Q: What is American Meadows' most popular wildflower mix?
ML: "Our traditional Regional Wildflower Seed Mixes that we’ve formulated for the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, Pacific Northwest and Southwest, are definitely our most popular. They were the first mixes we created 35 years ago, and have been staples since then. Each have 25+ annuals and perennials and are by far our most popular.
Recently we’ve all realized the importance of helping pollinators so we’ve been focusing on that. We created several mixes to attract pollinators, and that includes six Regional Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mixes. Those have been a huge hit with our customers! We’ve been selling hundreds and hundreds of pounds of them. I think right now we’re doing everything we can to support pollinators on our end, and sales are telling us that our customers are very interested in helping create these important habitats, as well."
Shop Regional Wildflower Seed Mixes
A customer photo of our Pacific Northwest Mix planted in a small space garden.
Q: What are the most important tips for growing wildflowers?
Follow The Instructions
ML: "There are a few things. The biggest thing is to make sure you follow the instructions that come with our mixes. This is really important. All of our products come with full instructions and our website is full of information, planting videos, and guides. But whenever you receive seed from us, the first thing you should do is open it up and read the instructions and get a sense for the process before you start."
Don't Cover Wildflower Seeds
ML: "Another common mistake is people end up planting the seed too deep. The right way to plant wildflowers is to broadcast the seed on the top of the surface - and people are actually planting it or covering it with mulch or dirt. Wildflower seed is very small compared to grass or vegetable seed, and the wildflower seed really wants to be just laid on the surface. Even if you rake the seed in or cover it lightly with mulch, it’s going to prohibit germination.
Another less common mistake, but one that is important to take note of, is too much seed. When wildflower seeds are too crowded, there is not enough room for the flower to grow and sprout. Think about it - an entire flower with foliage and all grows from each seed, not just a tiny blade of grass! Make sure to measure the area you are seeding and sow the correct amount of seed. To make planting go easier, mix the seed with sandbox sand to help spread it evenly. If you have any questions, you can always contact our team."
Preparation Is Important
ML: "The most important part of planting wildflowers is the preparation beforehand. If you choose not to get rid of the grass, or you think you can just throw the seed on your front lawn and expect it to take over, you’re kind of setting yourself up for minimal results. "
Our wildflower planting guide has every step you need to know from preparation to planting!
Customer photo of Zinnias.
Q: What is your favorite part about creating wildflower mixes that you know gardeners will enjoy?
ML: "I enjoy creating the mixes every year, especially some of our seasonal mixtures including Spring Into Summer Mix or our Fall Maximum Mix. I like reading the feedback we get throughout the year from gardeners, and taking that feedback and incorporating it in these mixtures. If people ask for a specific variety we may not carry, we could then source it and add it to the mixture.
With supporting pollinators, I always push myself to improve and make a mixture that could be that much better and helpful to pollinators than anything else available on the market.
For me, the fun is about challenging myself to improve every year and thinking about how we can do better each year. Always tinkering with our mixtures, always trying to improve, it’s a lot of fun in the process."
Mike "The Seed Man" Lizotte, planting wildflowers.