Nebraska is a wonderful place to live. One of my favorite things in the spring and summer months is to drive around and see all of the beautiful flowers blooming along the roadsides, many of which are wildflowers.
For 2016, Nebraska Wildflower Week will be celebrated June 3rd through June 12th. Nebraska Wildflower Week is observed every year in early June. The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is a coordinator of this event. Wildflower Week is aimed to increase awareness and appreciation of wildflowers and native plants in the wild and in the landscape through an array of events and activities across Nebraska, according to the Statewide Arboretum.
One of the events for the 2016 Nebraska Wildflower Week will be held right here in Beatrice. The Beatrice Public Library will have a display of books and information on wildflowers. They will also have wildflower seedlings that were started by the Gage County Master Gardeners that will be given away for free as long as supplies last. The Seed Library also has a good selection of wildflower seeds and grass seeds available for free as well.
Planting your native and wildflower seeds and native grasses will take a few years of care before the area will become low-maintenance and beautiful. The site for planting needs to be prepared for wildflower planting. For preparation of the site, first apply a glyphosate herbicide, such as Roundup, to kill existing plant material and weeds to help the seedlings germinate better and have less competition. This herbicide should be applied 10-21 days prior to mowing and tilling the area to finish preparing the site for seeding. Seed wildflowers in the spring or in the fall and transplant container-grown plants then as well.
The first couple of years may seem disappointing to you in your new wildflower garden. Those first 2 years you may see no or very limited flower development as the plants need to grow good roots and build the plant up before it can begin growing flowers. The first growing season, you should mow this prairie area 1-3 times at the highest possible height on your lawnmower, waiting at least 1 month between each mowing. In the second year, you may need to mow your prairie one time in the summer. You may need to spot spray weeds during establishment but fertilizers are not necessary and can hinder growth by increasing weed growth and disturbing the natural process of wildflowers. By the third year, you should have a very low-management prairie for your landscape with many native wildflowers. Mow this once a year early in the spring or late in the fall.
There are a lot of choices for wildflowers. Many locations will feature a seed mix which is a good choice for many different types of wildflowers that are already mixed together for a pleasing display. Bob Henrickson, from the Statewide Arboretum has a list of his top 12 wildflowers for Nebraska. This list includes: Beardtongue (Penstemon), Black-eyed Susan, Compass plant, Desert globemallow, Leadplant, Prairie Larkspur, Plains Coreopsis, Purple poppy mallow, Prairie coneflower, Yellow coneflower (Mexican Hat), Prairie Phlox, and Spiderwort. Any of these would be a great choice for your wildflower prairie. And remember wildflowers are not just for an acreage, they can be planted in a small garden space in town as well.
For more information on Nebraska Wildflower Week, Activities to attend, and a List of places to view Wildflowers, visit: http://arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week