Plant Wildflowers and Native Grasses in Fall or Winter
We typically think of planting native grasses and wildflowers in the spring, like April and May. But there is a second and third option of planting in the fall or in the dormant winter season.
Fall planting in September works best for perennial forbs or wildflowers like Black-eyed Susan, Maximillian Sunflower, or Illinois Bundleflower. It also works for cool season perennials like alfalfa and clovers.
Dormant seeding in December through February works for the warm season grasses and any of the perennial or annual wildflowers.
There are some advantages and disadvantages to fall seeding.
- Fall or "dormant" seeding imitates natural reseeding.
- Frost seeding is the broadcasting of seed over frozen soil following the first killing frost. Some natural stratification occurs; i.e., natural changes occur to the seed and seed coat during the winter that enhance germination.
- Good seed-to-soil contact occurs through moisture and frost action. Germination will most likely not occur until spring. Some cool season species will establish during the winter, however warm season grasses and most forbs will germinate in the spring.
- Some seed can be lost to decay and wildlife consumption during the winter.
- Establishment may be hindered by weed competition that starts during the winter. Mulching is an important element of seeding to protect both the seed and soil, and to retain moisture
If you are interested in establishing warm season grasses or native wildflowers on your property, consider our cost share program through Johnson County Stormwater Management. More information is available here.