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Moosa Creek Blog

Planting for Spring Wildflowers

Creekside Chat

 November is the perfect time to plant with an eye toward spring color. Not only will seeds germinate with the coming rains, but they also will have better root growth for healthier plants come spring. 

Beware of packaged seed mixes. Often they contain seeds from plants that are not from Southern California. Be sure there is no Sweet Alyssum in the mix, which is a member of the mustard family. It is  akin to the wild mustard and radish that take over native areas, secreting a substance through their roots that kills off competition such as native wildflowers. Be sure to select seed packs that are responsibly selected such as Moosa Creek's California Wildflower Mix or California Poppy. Remember, when sowing wildflower seeds remove all weeds first, or you will have a challenging time pulling the weeds from among the wildflowers. Refer to the instructions on the seed packs for guidance.

Nothing says, “Spring is here,” like the bright orange of a California Poppy. Mix them with the white hybrid Moonglow. Poppies have deep tap roots that help mine nutrients from deep into the soil which is then deposited on the surface when the plant dies, creating topsoil. Poppies are excellent erosion control plants as well; they populate best in disturbed soil, so embankments where a little movement of topsoil occurs will keep them happy. Although considered annuals, if you plant poppies in the fall they will develop enough roots; after they finish blooming you can trim them and often have repeat blooms for several years.

Contrasting beautifully with roadside poppies are the tall blue or purple spikes of lupine flowers. The roots of the plant can set nitrogen in even heavy soil as well as help prevent erosion, and the dried flowers provide great seeds for birds as well.

A cheerful annual is the Desert Marigold. The layers of strawflower-like pale yellow petals around a golden center are set off beautifully by grey-green foliage. This plant needs well-draining soil, and not much summer water. However, if you have an area that receives regular water try Salt Marsh Fleabane. The purple flower clusters rise a good 2’ high, and the foliage has a sweet scent.

There are many beautiful wildflowers such as Tidy Tips, but remember all of these are annuals, and come summer your wildflower area will look very forlorn. Plant perennial flowering plants such as Sunshine Monkeyflower and Showy Penstemon, and scatter the annuals in between for year-round color.

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