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Pink None-So-Pretty, blue Cornflower, and yellow Coreopsis wildflowers in our Northeast Wildflower Seed Mix

Top 20 FAQs About Wildflowers & Meadows

How do I plant a wildflower meadow?

There are 6 basic steps for how to grow wildflowers:

  1. Identify the right time to plant in your area.
  2. Prepare your site for seeding wildflowers by loosening soil and removing existing grass and weeds.
  3. Sow your wildflowers seeds. Be sure to use only the recommended amount of seed — wildflowers do not grow well in overcrowded conditions! For even distribution, we recommend mixing 1 part seed with 8-10 parts clean, dry sand. Sow half of your seeds walking east-to-west, and the other half of your seeds walking north-to-south.
  4. Compress seeds into the soil to encourage germination, but do not cover — they need sunlight to germinate.
  5. Water regularly. Water so that the soil is moist until the seedlings are at least 4-6" tall, which takes about 4-6 weeks.
  6. Watch growth and blooms appear! When the conditions are right, wildflower seeds will sprout within 2-3 weeks after germination. Annuals will bloom about 2-3 months after germination. Biennials grow foliage in their first season and bloom in the second season. Perennials will grow foliage in their first season, and typically start to bloom in their second season, and return for years to come. 


How do I prepare the soil for planting?

Better preparation = more wildflowers! Depending on the size of your meadow, use a shovel and hand tools, a rototiller or tractor, solarization/smothering, or organic herbicides to clear your soil of weeds, grasses, and other plants (roots and all), to make room for your wildflowers to grow and thrive. Make certain to remove all the roots of old grass and weeds or they'll grow back with enthusiasm.

We don't recommend just throwing the seed out in the field or into the grass; anyone who’s tried scattering seed without removing other plants has been sorely disappointed when their wildflowers don’t come up. 

Why is soil preparation important?

  1. Your seeds will germinate better in a site without competing plants shading them out and stealing resources like nutrients and water.
  2. Grasses and weeds are vigorous growers that can out-compete wildflower seedlings, so removing them gives your wildflowers the best chance to thrive.
  3. Soil that has been loosened makes root growth much easier for thriving plants.

Do I need to add fertilizer to the soil before planting?

Wildflowers are not fussy, and generally do not need rich soil, fertilizers, or other soil amendments. If anything is already growing in your planting area, even if it's just grasses or weeds, the soil will be fine for wildflowers.

If you're planting in a problem area where nothing is currently growing, or where there was a chemical spill, or new construction where the topsoil was removed, you may need to amend your soil or find a new site for the meadow. Wildflowers are quite adaptable but will not grow on a sterile site. If you’re not sure about your soil, it’s easy to get a soil test with your local Extension program, or by purchasing a soil testing kit from a local or online hardware store.

Although compost or other organic fertilizers are not necessary for growing wildflowers, they certainly can be useful to enhance soil quality if you have very challenging soil. For example, if your soil is heavy clay, adding some organic matter can help loosen its structure and help it drain better to encourage better success with your meadow, since most wildflowers prefer well-drained soil.

When is the best time to plant wildflower seeds?

The right time to plant wildflower seeds depends on your climate.

  • For Spring planting: wait until all danger of frost has passed before sowing seeds. You do not want seedlings to sprout in warm weather only to be killed by an early spring frost. The soil must warm to 55°F for germination – around the time tomatoes are planted. If it's colder, seeds will not germinate. Check your current soil temperature here.
  • For Fall planting: in areas with cold/freezing winters, you can plan a dormant planting. Sow seeds after two hard-killing frosts, when soil temperatures have cooled and are consistently below 45°F. Fall planting works well in cold winter climates where the ground freezes and soil temperatures stay below 45°F for the winter. The seeds will lie dormant throughout the winter and will sprout in spring when soil temperatures warm up to 55-70°F. If you live in a region that warms and cools over the winter months, fall planting is not recommended - you do not want seedlings to sprout in warm weather only to be killed by winter frost.
  • In climates where the ground does not freeze over winter, you can take advantage of the dormant season and “winter sow” wildflowers. Plant in January or February just before the rainy season begins, when the weather will not be too hot, and extra precipitation will help with watering chores.

This is one of the questions we get most! Please feel free to contact us with questions about your planting project.

For more information, see our Wildflower Planting Guide.

How much seed do I need, and how do I calculate square footage?

The first step to determining how much seed you need is to calculate the square footage of your meadow or garden bed.

  • See quick & easy instructions in our guide: How Much Seed Do I Need?
  • Seed coverage rates can be found on each item product page, under the Plant Information section. Spread seeds lightly for a natural look, or plant more densely for a lush look.
  • Coverage rates vary by species and can be quite surprising: for example, ¼ pound of any of our Regional Wildflower Seed Mixes cover 250-500 square feet (about 2-3 average parking spaces), whereas ¼ pound of Red Poppy Seed covers 5,445 square feet (about twice the area of a tennis court)! 
  • Be careful not to plant more than the recommended rate -  wildflowers do not like crowded conditions! Planting too much seed can cause crowding and reduce flowering.

How do I spread seeds?

  1. Separate your seed into roughly two equal parts. Put each half into a bucket, bowl, bin, or large bag with plenty of extra room.
  2. Mix sand & seeds. Add roughly eight parts dry sand to one part seed, and mix well. (For example: 8 cups sand to 1 cup seed.) 
  3. Test out your sowing technique. Your goal is to lay your seed down as evenly as possible, by hand or by using a seed spreader.
  4. For even application, scatter your seeds in two sowings. Take the first half of your seeds and sow them as evenly as possible, while walking across your site from north to south. Then take the other half and apply in a similar manner, this time walking east to west.

After seeds are sown evenly, tamp down or compress seeds for good seed-to-soil contact, but do not cover seeds with soil. They need plenty of sunlight to germinate!

How do I add wildflower seeds to fill in bare spots?

Many gardeners add annual seeds for extra color while waiting for the perennials to mature and bloom in years two and three. You can add annuals, perennials, or a mix of wildflowers to expand or enhance your meadow.

Many gardeners add annual seeds for extra color while waiting for the perennials to mature and bloom in years two and three.

Method 1: To add seed, take a steel rake and rough up bare areas to loosen soil. Lightly scatter seed directly over the areas. Tamp seeds down to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Doing this to a flower meadow is like working on bare spots in a lawn, and can be done once a season when soil temperatures are between 55-70° F in the spring, or after two hard frosts in the fall.

Method 2: Dig or till a border around your existing wildflower meadow, to loosen the soil and remove existing growth. Lightly scatter seed directly over the areas. Tamp seeds down to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. This method will expand your meadow with more color.

Can I add wildflower seeds to my existing field or lawn without digging or tilling first?

Good soil preparation is essential for success. Learn More: How To Add To Your Established Meadow

Shop Pollinator-Friendly Wildflowers

Are your seeds guaranteed, fresh, and GMO-free?

  • All our seeds are freshly harvested and are replenished throughout each growing season.
  • All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is 100% pure, non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free, and lab-tested to guarantee germination rates of 85% or higher.
  • Unlike some big-box stores, our wildflower seeds are pure seed and do not contain any fillers.
  • We support the Safe Seed Pledge.
  • You can grow with confidence knowing that your seeds are backed by our Dig In Guarantee!
  • Learn more about our seeds here: Best Wildflower Seeds Available

Can I store extra seeds for another season?

If you found yourself with extra seed at the end of the season, or if you have purchased seed ahead of time to be ready for planting, don't worry! It's easy to store seeds, and maintain a high germination rate.

  • Simply place the seed in an airtight container, making sure to label it clearly.
  • Store in a cool, dry, dark place. A dark closet or room is the perfect storage area, where the seed will not be exposed to moisture or extreme temperatures.
  • Seed will keep like this for months and maintain a high germination rate.
  • Our seed is guaranteed for one full year after purchase.

What do wildflower seeds need to germinate well? 

Basic seed needs: here are the four key factors for good wildflower seed germination:

  1. Direct seed-to-soil contact — tamp down seeds after planting
  2. Bare soil cleared of existing growth —  see How do I prepare the soil for planting?
  3. Soil temperatures between 55-70°F — see When is the best time to plant wildflowers?
  4. Direct exposure to sunlight — be sure to select a location with good sun exposure, and do not cover seeds when planting
  5. Consistent moisture — water regularly when not receiving rain for the first six weeks of growth, until seedlings are 4-6 inches tall

Though less common, some wildflowers require a period of darkness, moisture, and cold temperatures before they will germinate. Learn more about Cold Stratification below. 

Our wildflower seeds are lab-tested to guarantee germination rates of 85% or higher.

How much sun do I need to grow wildflowers?

Each wildflower seed and seed mix will tell you how much sun is required on the product page.

  • Wildflower seeds marked as full sun need 6 or more hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • Wildflower seeds marked as partial sun/shade require 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • While rare, wildflower seeds for full shade germinate best when started indoors under grow lights before transplanting seedlings out-of-doors to a garden area with fewer than 4 hours of sun each day.

In the Western US, the afternoon sun is stronger due to higher elevations. Definitions are adjusted to account for the increased heat and exposure:

  • Wildflower seeds marked as full sun need 6 or more hours of direct sunlight, or 4+ hours of afternoon sun, each day in the Western US.
  • Wildflower seeds marked as partial sun/shade require morning sun with afternoon shade in the Western US.
  • While rare, wildflower seeds for full shade germinate best when started indoors under grow lights before transplanting seedlings out-of-doors to a garden area with fewer than 3 hours of sun each day in the Western US. (Can tolerate more time in filtered light.)


Should wildflower seeds be soaked or chilled before planting? 

  • Many wildflowers—especially native varieties—have clever mechanisms in place that help protect them from germinating too early in the spring or too late in the summer. These varieties re-seed naturally in the wild and stay dormant until they go through a period of darkness, moisture, and cold temperatures before they will germinate. This is known as Cold Stratification. 

In cold climates with winter freeze, planting in fall allows this process to happen naturally. Sow seeds after two hard-killing frosts, after the ground is frozen. The seeds will lie dormant all winter and sprout in spring once the soil temperatures warm to 55-70°F.

If you're planting in spring, or if you live in a warm climate without frosty winters, you can pre-treat your seeds to encourage proper germination. Our guides provide detailed information about how to prepare seeds for planting:

Wildflowers That Require Scarification or Cold Stratification:

  • Milkweed (Asclepias)
  • Lupine (Lupinus)
  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida)
  • Prairie Violet (Viola pedatifida)
  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
  • Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • Perennial Sunflowers (Helianthus)
  • Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
  • Rudbeckia (most varieties)
  • Coneflower (some varieties)
  • Soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides)
  • Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium)
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
  • Heliopsis
  • Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
  • Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea)

Note: none of our regional wildflower seed mixtures need to be soaked or chilled before planting.


When will the flowers bloom?

  • Wildflower seeds will germinate and sprout approximately 2-3 weeks after germination. See What do wildflowers need to germinate well?
  • Of course, this assumes two important factors: weather and water. If you're in the "hot zone" this year, things may be slowed down a bit. And of course, your seedlings must have sufficient water to grow up to blooming size.
  • Annuals will begin to bloom first, about 2-3 months after they sprout
  • Perennials typically establish their foliage in the first season, then overwinter and bloom in the second and successive seasons. See What are the differences between annual, biennial, and perennial wildflowers?

Most of our seed mixes are designed with both annuals and perennials. Different species of flowers mature and bloom at different times in a growing season, and we've crafted our mixes to include species that will bloom at different times throughout the growing season—spring, summer, and fall— so that you always have something in bloom.

Shop Favorite Wildflowers

What are the differences between annual, biennial, and perennial flowers?

Know what you sow! Understanding the life cycle of your wildflowers is an important step toward growing a meadow successfully.

  • Annuals have a one-year life cycle, and bloom just weeks after planting to provide bright color in the first season. Although annuals produce seeds that may drop at the end of the season, annuals do not reliably reseed themselves on their own in most areas. For dependable results, most gardeners reseed annuals for each new growing season. Popular annuals include Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos, Poppies, and more.
  • Biennials complete their life cycle in two years. The first year they develop root systems and grow stems and leaves. In the second year, the plant will flower and then die. Biennials include Sweet William, Foxglove, and Hollyhocks, among others.
  • Perennials spend their first growing season developing healthy root systems and some foliage. Perennials are unlikely to bloom in the first year. Generally, perennials will take two or three years to reach mature size and full bloom. Herbaceous perennials will go dormant each winter. Popular perennials include Coneflowers, Milkweed, and Daisies.
  • Learn more in our guide: Plant Life Cycles: Annuals, Perennials, and Biennials

How can I tell the weeds from the wildflowers?

  • Did you know that a square foot of soil can hold between 900-3,000 dormant weed seeds? Even when you've prepared your soil properly, there may be many dormant weed seeds that sprout, especially if the area where you planted has been left untended for a while.
  • Keep an eye on existing weeds as they grow elsewhere on your property for comparison. Most gardeners find that they struggle with 5-10 aggressive weeds.
  • You can create your own wildflower ID cheat sheet by planting some of the seeds from your mix separately, watching the foliage as they develop, and labeling the seedlings once identified.
  • You can identify wildflowers by using a wildflower identification book, website images, or a plant identification app.
  • Check in with your local gardeners or local Extension program - they'll have good information on local weeds and how to manage them.
  • If you can’t tell the weeds from the flowers, one tip is to look for clumping. If you see a clump and relatively fast-growing plant that does not appear evenly over your meadow, it's likely a group of weeds.
  • Not sure? Let it grow! As the plant matures and flowers, it will be much easier to identify. 
  • See What's the best way to control the weeds in my meadow? 

What’s the best way to control the weeds in my meadow?

The two most common causes of meadow plantings overrun with weeds are poor soil preparation and/or sowing more than the recommended quantity of seed. These situations lead to very disappointing results!

If weeds and grasses were not thoroughly removed from the planting area, these aggressive growers can come back to out-compete wildflowers. And, although it may seem counter-intuitive, more seed is not better for wildflowers. Unlike grass, where a seed produces a single blade, a wildflower seed produces a complete flowering plant with substantial root systems. The seeds must lie on bare soil for good seed-to-soil contact; they need sufficient access to nutrients, sunlight, water, and ample room for roots to grow. Overcrowding can cause the wildflowers to lose the competition with weeds and grasses.

One of the beauties of a wildflower meadow is that it is relatively low maintenance — but that’s low maintenance, not no maintenance. When weeds begin to grow in your planting, here are some tips for controlling weeds:

  • After the first few weeks of growth, search for and pull any weeds that might have sprouted along with the wildflowers.  
  • Take a stroll through the meadow every other week with scissors in hand when picking bouquets, and cut any weeds down as low to the ground as possible.
  • If you can, pull the weeds up, roots and all, when they are young. It can be easier to do so when the soil is damp, such as after rain.
  • If you are unsure if it's a weed or a wildflower, see "How can I tell the weeds from the wildflowers?" above — or leave it in place until you are more certain.
  • To discourage weeds from spreading, be sure to cut them down or pull them out before they go to seed!
  • In very large meadows where hand-weeding is not possible, you may want to consider tilling and re-planting seeds if the weeds have taken over dramatically. Feel free to contact us for recommendations for your planting.

When should I mow my meadow?

We encourage our gardeners to leave meadows standing all winter as an important habitat for local wildlife and pollinators. In sloped or hard-to-reach areas, there is no need to mow wildflowers!

Wildflower meadows can be mowed just once a year, either in early spring or late fall. If you prefer to mow in the fall, you can do so late in the season after the wildflowers have all bloomed and dropped seeds. Mow the area down to 3” or 8” with a weed trimmer, brush hog, or mower set on a high setting. Rake the clippings and debris away in spring to make way for new growth.

Can I gather seed from my meadow?

Many people ask this, and of course, the answer is "Yes, definitely!" Red poppies, for example, have an endless number of flower variations. If you particularly like one form, save the seed from the little pod that's left after the flower fades (leave it on the plant until it's good and dry). Store the seed in a dry envelope until next spring, and you'll have more of the exact same flowers. 

You can choose your favorite flower types and save the seed for more of the same. Saved seed like this makes great gifts for your gardening friends!

Do you offer custom seed mixes or custom seed packets? 

Yes! Please contact us if you're interested in a custom seed mix.

We offer two different options for personalized or custom seed packets. If you are looking for fewer than 2,000 seed packets, you can add personalized details to our ready-to-ship event packets with the addition of a printable label.

We also offer fully customized seed packets that can use your own artwork for orders of 2,000 or more. Turnaround time is usually three-to-six weeks from receipt of custom artwork through to final production, depending on how many packets are ordered.

Please request a quote today for additional details on Custom Seed Packets.


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