Wildflowers in Colorado

September 3rd, 2021

Wildflowers are ideal for a more natural, less formal appearance. A planting of wildflowers will become a complex, interactive plant community, not just a collection of individual plants. You may choose to model wildflower plantings after surrounding native-plant communities or use wildflowers to provide bold splashes of color. 

The term “wildflower” does not necessarily imply that such plants are native to our area. Rather, it refers to an overall “look” or “feel” of an informal planting. Many plants in wildflower seed mixes are not native to Colorado. 

A wildflower planting provides change throughout the growing season as different plants in the mix come into bloom. Due to varying characteristics of plants in a wildflower mix, the appearance of the planting may differ from year to year as some species thrive and dominate less aggressive species. 

The type of wildflower seed mix you choose depends on site conditions and the effect you want to create. Commercial seed mixes may be formulated using a variety of flowers with different heights, colors, and bloom times. Usually, a mix of self-seeding annuals, biennials, and perennials is most effective. Wildflower mixes also may contain some grass species, which can fill in spaces around flowers, add texture and color contrast, and provide support and protection to wildflowers. Grasses also can reduce soil erosion and enhance wildlife habitat.

Fall is a good time to sow wildflower seeds because subsequent winter cold and snow (moisture) will promote seed germination the following spring. You may need to water in the spring to germinate seeds if winter moisture is insufficient. For spring or summer seedings, water to germinate seeds if rains are insufficient. 

To prevent seed from blowing, provide additional protection on exposed, windy sites. Seedlings emerging in late summer may not become well established and may be killed by fall frosts. 

 

by J.E. Klett and R.A. Cox