, Port Arthur, Texas

October 12, 2012

Wonderful Wildflowers

Ann Bares
Jefferson County Master Gardners

— The wonderful mix of color from the zinnas is now just a memory, with only a few still lingering on their spent stalks, and it's tme to clean, lightly till, and prepare the beds for fall. The mustard green seeds are scattered, and some fresh herb plants settled in, so now fast-forward to what spring will bring, after a long winter. The time is right for sowing the seeds that will fill your garden with wonderful color and some surprises, in the spring and into early summer, wildflowers!  Our zone 9 recommends a September15-December 15th planting. Select a well drained, sunny site and till soil lightly, only 1" deep for good soil-seed contact. Use a wildflower mix that  has at least 15-20 species, since not all will germinate, or thrive, in our area. Mix 1 part seed with 4 parts sand to help the different sizes and weights of seeds to distribute more evenly. A shaker with various size holes, or a whirlybird spreader helps to spread seed evenly. Seeds should fall not more that 1/2" deep, and then be tamped lightly, but firmly down. Water with a fine spray just enough to settle the soil. Unless it is a very dry fall, natural rainfall will be enough to germinate the seeds. Some will germinate quickly to allow the roots to establish before going dormant in the winter, others won't emerge until the soil is warmer in the spring. Pull any broadleaf weeds, but be careful not to pull your seedlings!  In the spring, take pictures of your wildflower garden, and make a note of which did the

best, then when they are all spent, cut the blooms or remove the plants and shake them over the bed for next years wildflower show. For sources of wildflower seeds, and more information about the many ways you may use them in your landscape, go to, or to see the "Texas Wildflower Wheel". For more information, call the Texas A&M AgriLife Ext. Office, 409-835-8461.

Ann Bares, Jefferson County Master Gardener