What went wrong


This is my second wildflower meadow. The first was planted 10 years ago and was successful until it went native to the point where there was more goldenrod than flowers. In 2013 I decided to replant. I started with Roundup on Aug 1st, tilled it 1" deep about Aug 15, more roundup when weeds sprouted, more tilling, a third application of roundup. By then it was October, 2013. I tilled the ground just before the first frost and planted a selection of appropriate wildflowers. (same species that were successful last time.) In late July, 2014 all I have are weeds, a few black eyed susans and one coreopsis - in 1/4 acre! What went wrong? Should I have mowed it in late spring? I got the seed from Prairie Wildflower Nursery.

Comments (4)
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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

One possibility is that your seeds got buried too low and failed to germinate. Or maybe some that didn't need cold stratification germinated in the fall during a warm spell and then were killed by subsequent cold?

How was your winter? In Kansas City it seemed to last longer than usual. We had some late hard frost in particular that could have killed tiny seedlings.

Interesting about goldenrod taking over. We have a little prairie patch in our neighborhood that's maintained by a local school. By this time of year it's always overrun by what appears to be a type of golden aster. When I see it I always think that it could use more native grasses.

I wonder whether it might be better to seed your meadow in May. You'd get more grass this way, though some of the wildflowers wouldn't germinate until the following spring. You could cold stratify some wildflower seeds in the fridge to plant at the same time if you wanted some of them to get a head start.


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Iris GW

That is a lot of tilling! That would certainly bring up a lot of seeds (even after the repeat spraying). I don't know anything about the recommended procedure, but that all seemed a bit much.

I would hope that Prairie Wildflower Nursery might have some guidance.

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lycopus(z5 NY)

When using herbicides to prepare a site tilling might be counterproductive. When you till you bring additional seeds to the surface. Prairie Moon Nursery recommends mowing through the first growing season. You might want to read their page on establishing a prairie from seed. Also consider incorporating some plugs into your planting for instant gratification since it's only 1/4 acre.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Grow a Prairie from Seed

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Yup, what Lycopus and Esh said-too much tilling, when in fact, none at all would have been preferable.

As to the Solidago gigantea/canadensis/altissima complex, that is entirely to be expected in the latitudes where you and I work. My unmanaged meadows up at tree farm are always taken over by the big goldenrods if no action is taken. I believe there is some allelopathy involved with this as well, the goldenrods secreting chemicals into the soil surrounding their root systems, which inhibit other species. At the same time, this is in fact, a native prairie or meadow-whichever word you prefer-planting, even with all the Solidago. Actually quite beautiful in its own right, when viewed en masse. Where mine is doing this, only a few aster species seem to readily compete in that mixture. Also, mine is slowly being colonized by native trees, both conifer and broadleaf, and that is my intention, so I don't worry about the goldenrods in that situation.

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