The Currant Farm Honey Bee and Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix Instructions
The Currant Farm Honey Bee and Pollinator Seed mix is the same mix planted on the field next to The Currant Farm Apiary. It is the result of observations on honey bee flower preferences on our farm. It is a blend of adaptable, annual and perennial flowers that provide nectar and pollen specifically to honey bees but many other pollinators will love them as well. These flowers provide nectar and pollen all season long. It is ideal for honey beekeepers and others interested in honey bee and pollinator health. This mix can be used in garden beds, borders, and other maintained areas.
The Currant Farm Honey Bee and Pollinator seed mix is formulated to adapt readily to different soil types. Annuals have been included to establish cover quickly and to give color the first year; some may produce new plants the following year (the biennials may also reseed). Perennial plants live for more than two years, and most flower from the second year onward.
Our mixture is blended to give the widest possible range of colors and periods of bloom. Very few wildflowers bloom continually throughout the season; therefore, we have included spring-, summer-, and fall-blooming species in each mixture. Colors include blue, purple, red, white, yellow and pink. Mix heights vary from 10 inches to 3 feet.
In general, our mixtures are formulated to contain approximately equal numbers of seeds of each species.
Mixtures may vary occasionally from the indicated listing, based on availability of individual species.
Most wildflower seeds and mixtures have a purity of 95-99% and total viable seed percentages of between 70-95%. The total viable seed percent is the germination percent, plus the hard seed or dormant seed percent.
Sowing wildflower seeds without care and planning usually produces unsatisfactory results. Here are some important factors to consider: (1) Does the site support plants now? If you have a site where nothing, including weeds, is growing, that site is unlikely to support wildflowers. (2) Can you supply supplemental water, if necessary? (3) What weed seeds are likely to be present in the soil? Will weeds spread to your site from adjacent areas? Assessment of these factors will enable you to make a realistic choice of a site where wildflowers will prosper and to decide what action will be necessary to ensure your success.
Wildflower Seed Planting Rates
Each wildflower mixture in this catalog has a recommended minimum and maximum planting rate. The planting rates for some mixtures are adjusted higher due to the presence of small-seeded, nonaggressive species. In general however, the minimum planting rates are based on 60-70 seeds per square foot (4 to 12 pounds per acre), which is usually sufficient to establish a good stand of wildflowers on prepared soil when adequate weed control can be maintained. Maximum planting rates are based on 120-140 seeds per square foot (8 to 24 pounds per acre), and are recommended when adequate soil preparation and weed control are not possible, or when maximum color is desired.
When to Plant Your Wildflowers
The best time to plant in your area depends on the climate and rainfall patterns as well as the species you are planting. In cool climates, plant annuals, perennials or mixtures of annuals and perennials in spring, early summer or late fall. Fall plantings should be late enough so that seeds do not germinate until spring. Late fall plantings are advantageous when supplemental irrigation cannot be provided and adequate rainfall is anticipated in the spring.
In mild climates, plant during the cooler months of the year, fall through spring, for best results. Fall plantings done prior to periods of rainfall will insure an early display of flowers the following spring.
Proper site preparation is important for prompt germination of seed and healthy growth of seedlings. Best results will be obtained by planting on cleared ground. Remove existing vegetation to avoid competition from other plants. This may be done by pulling, tilling under, spraying with a general herbicide (I like white vinegar and water), or by a combination of these methods, depending upon the size of the area, type and density of vegetation and other factors. Loosen soil by scraping, tilling or scarifying. Tilling should be utilized only when soil is very compacted and further weed control measures can be taken.
Method of application depends on the size of the area and the terrain. On small areas, broadcast seeds evenly either by hand or by use of a drop or cyclone spreader. On larger areas, it is helpful to mix a carrier such as clean, dry sand with the seed; sand adds volume and aids in even distribution. We recommend using a ratio of 1 or 2 parts sand to 1 part seed. Rake in lightly, covering seeds to a maximum depth of 2-3 times their thickness. Or drag the area lightly with a piece of chain link fence to mix the seed into the surface of the soil.
All seeds, including wildflowers, need ample moisture to germinate and to develop into healthy seedlings. Best results will be obtained by soaking the planted areas thoroughly and maintaining consistent moisture for 4-6 weeks — then gradually reducing waterings. In non-irrigated situations, plant in the spring or before periods of anticipated rainfall. After seedlings are established, watering may be reduced depending on the climate and rainfall. In arid climates or during drought conditions, up to 1/2 inch of supplemental water per week may be required to maintain an optimal display. If weeds are present, remember that they benefit from moisture as much as the wildflowers and may dominate overwatered areas.
Many wildflowers benefit from some fertilization if the soil does not have adequate nutrients. Some wildflowers do fine in poor soils, while others require a more fertile environment. If the soil needs improvement, use a low nitrogen fertilizer with a 5-10-10 ratio or add organic matter such as weed-free straw or grass clippings, well-rotted compost, peat moss, or leaf mold. In addition to adding nutrients, organic materials enhance soil structure and encourage beneficial microorganisms. Avoid over-fertilizing which may promote weed growth and lush foliage rather than flowers.
Weed control is the biggest problem facing plant establishment and one which has no easy solution. Weed seeds are present in many situations and lie dormant, but viable, for long periods. A weedy area converted to wildflowers will have a large reservoir of weed seeds in the soil, ready to germinate when conditions are favorable. In most cases, it is advisable to consider weed control in two phases part of site preparation prior to planting, and as an important component of the post-germination maintenance program.
Before planting, remove existing weeds by pulling, tilling under, applying a glyphosate herbicide, or by a combination of these methods. For additional weed control after site preparation the area may be irrigated to encourage weed growth and then sprayed with a general herbicide (white vinegar).
In very weedy areas, the following method is suggested: (1) Till soil or spray vegetation with White Vinegar. Allow vegetation to die, then rake out the dead debris. Irrigate to encourage germination of weed seeds near the surface; most seeds will germinate within two weeks if consistent moisture is available. Do not till the soil again because this will bring even more weed seeds up to the surface. Spray any new growth with White Vinegar. After raking out dead vegetation, allow soil to recover for 1 week before planting seed. Once the seeds have germinated, further weed control is usually necessary. If practical, pull all weeds as soon as they can be identified.
What to Expect
Wildflowers can provide an excellent, low cost alternative in large-scale, high maintenance situations, as well as a satisfying change from traditional urban landscaping. However, during their initial establishment period, wildflowers require as much maintenance as traditional plantings.
A smooth, weed- and vegetation-free planting bed is important for good seed-soil contact and prompt germination. Cover seeds lightly to protect them from drying out during germination, and to prevent them from being eaten by birds. Consistent moisture is important for 4 – 6 weeks after planting.
A wildflower planting requires the same weed control measures as traditional landscaping. Effective measures include site preparation prior to planting and a post-germination maintenance program.
Our Honey Bee Pollinator mix contains annual, biennial and perennial species. The annuals, which may not be native to your area, are included to assure maximum color during the first season and to act as a nurse crop for the slower-growing perennials. Annuals germinate quickly when conditions are favorable, providing a quick ground cover and competition against weeds. Natural reseeding of annuals ranges from significant to minimal, depending on the species, climate, soil texture and other factors. Most perennial and biennial species begin to bloom the second season, but not as profusely as annuals. Therefore, wildflower plantings look noticeably different after the first year.
Sometimes it is desirable or even necessary to sow seed in second and subsequent years. Reseeding may be necessary if establishment of wildflowers is spotty or poor. It is possible to reseed bare areas with the original mixture. Loosen soil of bare areas and provide adequate weed control and supplemental irrigation as needed. Where natural reseeding of annuals is minimal, sowing annuals each spring can produce a magnificent annual and perennial display throughout the growing season.
If desired, wildflowers may be mowed in the fall following seed set. Mow to a height of 4-6 inches, and leave the residue on the ground because it is a reservoir of viable seeds.
Varieties Included in Mix
Coreopsis, Lance Leaved
Poppy, California, Orange
Cosmos, Sulphur, Dwarf mixed
Basil, Sweet, Genovese type
Prairie Clover, Purple
Aster, New England
Mountain Mint, Slender