Plant Your Spring Flowers in the Fall

Spring FlowersDid you know that fall is the best time to plant many wildflower and flower seeds for next spring? It’s true – if you want a beautiful patch of flowers for their scent, color or to attract pollinators, the best time to plant them is not next spring, but very soon – this fall.

Most wildflowers can (and should) be planted in the fall or early spring throughout many regions of the U.S. In the Southern and Western areas of the country the fall months of September through December are the most favorable time to plant wildflower seeds. In Northern and Northeastern regions seeds planted in the fall will remain dormant over the winter. Many varieties will quickly germinate in order to allow the seedling enough time to become established before going dormant for winter. Other varieties will just remain dormant within the soil until early spring. They will germinate and emerge in the spring when the conditions are favorable.

When you think about the life cycle of many flowers without man’s interference, they emerge in the spring, grow and flower summer to early fall, produce seeds which scatter to the winds and then the plant dies or goes dormant for the winter. The seeds remain in the cold winter ground yet to emerge once again in the spring. Almost all varieties of flowers, whether domesticated or wild, need periods of cold followed by a warming, such as freezing and thawing that naturally happens in the soil outside. This is called stratification, and keeps the seeds dormant for enough time to make it to the warm spring days to sprout.

When you receive our annual Heirloom Seed Catalog in late December of each year, many of the flower varieties would benefit from being planted in the fall instead of the spring. This year we are encouraging you to take a look at our Flower Department now and place your flower seed orders before the spring to benefit from the natural cycles. If you need specific information about what flowers would work in best in your area, email us your questions. Otherwise, if you are new to flower gardening, one of our flower mixes is a great place to start.

Here is a tip for successful flower seed planting this fall-

Do not plant your seeds too deeply, but try to broadcast them uniformly. Think about how the natural cycle works, with the seed heads drying out and shattering to release the seeds. They scatter onto the top of the soil and over time work their way into the proper position for germination. This can sometimes be achieved by mixing your seeds into a light soil mix and then spreading with a rake. Try not to cover the flower seeds deeper than 1/16 of an inch. If you live in an area with heavy bird pressures, you might have to use a floating row cover or cover slightly deeper to prevent bird predation. Or do as we sometimes do here and as the Native Americans have done; plant one for the birds, one for God and one for the farmer!

About Stephen

Stephen Scott is co-owner of Terroir Seeds, a family owned and operated heirloom seed company that focuses on the "Cycle of Terroir"- from the soil, to the seed, to the food you eat; providing heirloom seeds, education and information for all phases of the cycle.

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6 Responses to Plant Your Spring Flowers in the Fall

  1. Connie September 19, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    I have always planted extra, for birds, me and God. My brother in law taught me that. Thank you for including that in the article. Give back to the earth, always

    • Stephen September 19, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      Yes, Connie, it is important to remember that we share this earth with many other creatures that we can help along the way.

  2. Tanya September 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Hi which seeds do you recommend then to plant in the fall, I am in southern Alberta? Can I plant pansies?

    • Stephen October 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      Tanya, replicating the natural cycle of sowing seeds in the fall works especially well for almost all of the flowers and most herbs, so you have your pick of what you want to see next year! Many gardeners are planting our pollinator attractant mixes, along with flower mixes for a diverse population of flowers next year and a lot of different bees, hummingbirds, moths, etc.

  3. Tamara March 15, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    Hi — We have an acreage and we usually do a spring burn. Do you have any tips for wildflower growing & burning? Thanks.

    • Stephen March 18, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Most wildflowers are fire adapted and will grow more vigorously after a fire. One thing that you can do to increase the flower population is to broadcast more flower seeds after the burn, as the open space and increased carbon will boost them.

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