With spring in full bloom, the wildflowers have begun taking over the countryside, at least in those areas where they are allowed to grow. Wildflowers come in many shapes and sizes. They come at different times of the year, blending a huge array of colors across the landscape. They do all of this without being planted, watered or preened over at all. So, perhaps a valid question is: Why should we plant them?
It would be easy to simply say that adding more beauty to the planet is enough to warrant planting wildflowers, but the reality is so much more complicated and persuasive. The fact is that, whether or not wildflowers happen in the wild, we can encourage and foster their growth. We can put them in our gardens and yards to enjoy at home, as well as benefit our local area.
There are plenty of reasons to plant them.
There are so many types of wildflowers, including some varieties native to your area, wherever that might be. With the world becoming all lawns, concrete and monocultures, it’s always a positive to put more diversity out there for the wildlife, particularly pollinators like bees.
Speaking of pollinators, with so much wild space going to development, pollinators sometimes struggle to survive, unable to locate flowers in bloom. An array of wildflowers will mean that pollen of some sort is available throughout the growing season. Not only does this help with bees, but it attracts other beautiful pollinators, such as butterflies.
Keeping these pollinators happy and present works in favor of the vegetable and fruit gardens as well. With flowers blooming throughout the season, pollinators will make themselves at home. Then, when the time comes to pollinate tomatoes, squashes, apples or whatever, they’ll be there to do it.
Wildflowers, being wild and all, are survivors. Left to their own devices, they are perfectly capable of going to seed and springing back anew next year. This means round after round of flowers without having to spend more money on seeds or plants the following years.
Obviously, plants returning each year means we have less to spend on new plants, but by and large, wildflowers are inexpensive to get started. Different seed mixes are available for just a few bucks, and the flowers will spread out farther themselves.
Self-seeding makes wildflowers inexpensive, and it’s also a clue as to another reason wildflowers are a steal of a deal — they don’t need special attention. They don’t need special soil or mulch or even digging. Typically, planting wildflowers involves spreading seeds over the desired area and walking around on it to make sure the seeds get into the soil. They’ll take over from there.
Wildflowers set down roots and spread out over an area, which helps control erosion. Unlike grass lawns, wildflowers don’t require tons of maintenance in order to remain healthy. Rather, they set their roots into the soil, keep it intact, and prevent erosion.
Plants are superstars at filtering pollutants out of the water, soil, and air, so having an abundance of them means more filtration. Wildflowers actually help us keep our home and environment clean.
The variety of plant species on the planet has been in decline for millennia now, and planting wildflowers is just a simple, easy way that we can help conserve the wonders that nature provides. Of course, the flowers also help with conserving wildlife, which feeds from them.
Many wildflowers are also edible. Dandelions supply delicious leaves, as well as edible roots. Sweet violets are absolutely delicious. Clover flowers are tasty as tea. Wood sorrel is a great wild edible. And, even trees get into the wildflower mix: redbuds and black locust blooms are treats.
Another great thing about wildflowers is that we don’t necessarily need a space of our own to plant them. They don’t need a garden, so we can potentially put them anywhere soil is available: abandoned lots, road medians, and so on. We can just spread them over the area and wait for blooms. Or, for some fun, we can create seed bombs to spread the joy.
With some reasons to plant wildflowers, I suppose the more pertinent question would be, “why not plant them?” Check with local seed suppliers or seed banks to see what mixes they have available.
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