A how-to guide to sowing seeds

Sunset  – November 15, 2004

Select a site that drains well and gets at least six hours of sun a day. Rake the soil lightly ― no deeper than 1 inch (the less you disturb the soil, the fewer weed seeds you bring up). If decomposed granite covers your property and you don’t want rake marks, skip this step and move to the next one; the seeds will fall down in between the gravel.

To make the seed easier to distribute, mix it with native soil or sand. Broadcast half the seed over the desired area, then sow the remainder in a direction perpendicular to the first.

After sowing, walk over the seed to make sure it is firmly in contact with the soil. Or rake very lightly once.

Water seeded area with a sprinkler set on fine spray or use a garden hose with a mist nozzle. Keep the area moist until seedlings emerge ―usually 5 to 14 days later. When seedlings have grown to a few inches high, taper off irrigation. Thereafter, apply water only when young plants appear stressed.

Bird protection

Birds love both wildflower seeds and young seedlings. Put out quail blocks or birdseed to distract hungry birds.

After-bloom care

If you want your annuals to come back on their own, you’ll have to let them set seed. After the foliage has begun to turn brown and most of the seeds have ripened, pull up the plants and scatter the remaining seed. If your spring wildflower crop is sparse, plan on reseeding again in fall.