How to Grow: Wildflower Meadows

Listen to this podcast on how to care for a wildflower meadow.

Bank, Bench, Seat, Rest, Nature, Silent, TreeIt takes just one look outside to know what time of year it is. The goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, and asters are blooming, so it must be late summer moving into fall.

There’s been a lot of attention on planting gardens for pollinating insects and butterflies. It seems like we’ve had a bevy of Monarchs and other butterflies this year in our garden. While creating a planted wildflower garden is a great way to help these creatures and have a beautiful garden, a simpler way to help our winged friends is just to manage our wild meadows better.

Butterflies and pollinators are tuned into the wildflowers that have grown in our meadows for generations. We certainly can plant more perennial natives such as rudbeckia, echinacea, daisies, and lupines into the meadows and let them spread.

But I think Mother Nature does a nice job of creating wildflower meadows on her own, with a little help. So, we’ve been encouraging our neighbors to brush hog abandoned fields annually and do it later in fall. This allows the native wildflowers to flourish providing needed pollen for insects and allows the flowers to self-sow. The brush hogging suspends the natural evolution of the fields from grass to forest at a stage where herbaceous wildflowers thrive.

We can edit the wildflower meadow as well by eliminating invasives. Using the Connecticut Invasive Plant List as a guide, dig out shrubs such as Tartarian honeysuckle and multi-floral rose, and herbaceous perennials such as purple loosestrife and Japanese knotweed.

Although wildflower mixes add a splash with annual and perennial flower colors, I love the natural beauty of a meadow filled with grasses, wildflowers and native shrubs.

Excerpted from the Connecticut Garden Journal on Connecticut Public Radio.


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