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Old 08-26-2002, 05:32 AM
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Default Growing native wildflowers



I have a small, south-facing hillside in Conta Costa County -- once used for cattle grazing -- which for years has been covered by tall annual grasses. I would like to grow a variety of native wildflowers and am unsure how to start them. If I simply spread the seeds in the Fall, will they compete successfully with the grass seeds already present. Do I need to let the grasses germinate naturally, kill them and then seed the flowers? Water the hillsides early on, let the seeds germinate and then stop watering and let them die? Or something else?</p>
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Old 08-26-2002, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Growing native wildflowers



Bob - No, wildflowers will not compete well against tall annual grasses. Your best bet might be to mow the grasses several times to keep them low, then grow you wildflowers in small pots and plant them out. This gives them a head start in competing with the grasses. Narrow grow-tubes are ideal for this purpose. I would recommend that you contact Larner Seeds in Bolinas and get some of their booklets on growing wildflowers. Good luck, Lori Hubbart</p>
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Old 08-27-2002, 07:31 AM
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Default Re: Growing native wildflowers



There is an excellent discussion about landscaping w/natives in fire-prone areas of California on the Las Pilitas web site http://www.laspilitas.com/fire.htm He mentions a few plants specifically--Salvia mellifera, Chamise, and buckwheats--as being problems in fire-prone areas. Aside from the kinds of plants used, of considerable importance is the structure of your landscape spacing, eliminating fuel ladders, etc.. I can attest to the flammability of various native Salvias--and would avoid placing those near structures or where they could ignite trees. California Division of Forestry CDF also puts out a guide to plant selection with fire prevention in mind, but their lists of fire-resistant and highly flammable species includes both natives and non-natives. Check with a nearby CDF office to obtain a copy. Good luck!</p>
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Old 08-27-2002, 07:33 AM
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Default Re: Growing native wildflowers



Sorry! This should`ve been posted above!! Bob</p>
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Old 08-28-2002, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: Growing native wildflowers



I would add that Larner Seed have - in our experience - the best seed. We`ve gone through five years of planting a small wildflower hill, and two of those five years were spectacular. These were the years we bought seeds from Larner. There`s a good book you might enjoy by Kevin Connelly called 'Gardener`s Guide to California Wildflowers'. It`s only about wildflowers, and he spends a lot of time talking about soil preparation. Mind you, I believe the option for killing the weeds with black plastic is considered a bad practice nowadays. It`s published by Theodore Payne Foundation. http://www.theodorepayne.org/ Trish </p>
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Old 08-29-2002, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Growing native wildflowers



I own a native landscape company in San Diego, and we do many, many wildflower meadow installations. They always drive me crazy because wildflowers are incredibly sensitive to non-native weeds and grasses. Normally, we start planning for the wildflower meadows about 6-12 months in advance. We usually remove all weeds, cleaning the site down to bare soil. We then apply a pre-emergent, watering it in with overhead sprinklers. This has to be done at least 6 months in advance of your wildflower seeding so as not to hinder germination of the natives. Since meadows are often a transient, pioneering ecology, they do not become inherently stable like chaparral, for instance. They are easily displaced by the continuous onslaught on non-native seeds. Therefore, site hygiene is everything, and requires continuous monitoring for weeds. I usually recommend starting out with a manageable space of maybe &lt; 3000 sq. ft., and expand it yearly. Good luck.</p>
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