Now is the Time to Plant Spring Wildflowers

Mark Peterson

While fall is the perfect season to plant spring wildflowers in Texas, our weather is so unpredictable that the seeds often don’t get the right combination of rainfall and temperature. Seed balls are the solution!

Do you have bare soil or thinning grass? An empty plant bed? Do you want to help nature and all our pollinators? Then, we have an immediate job just for you. Mix up some wildflower seed balls!

While fall is the right time to plant spring wildflowers in Texas, our weather is so unpredictable that oftentimes the planted seeds don’t get the right combination of rainfall and temperature.

Seed balls — a clever concoction of clay, compost and seeds — provide the maximum soil-to-seed contact, correct moisture and temperatures, and protection from rodents, birds and insects.

The concept is simple. Mix clay, compost and seeds with a little water, roll the mixture into small balls, and let them dry. Then, just deposit them wherever the soil is bare or grass is thin. Over the winter, the balls break down and the seeds begin to germinate and grow.

Here’s the simple recipe.

Recipe

  • 5 parts pottery clay, ground down and lump-free (we used ‘artisan red’ from Roadrunner Ceramics)
  • 1-3 parts compost or potting soil (the more compost, the more the balls will “explode” on contact)
  • 1 part wildflower seed (native seed adaptable to your area) We like Wildseed Farms or Native American Seed.
  • 2 parts water
  • 1 tub
  • Trays with wax paper or paper. Individual cardboard sheets work well, too.

Method

Some sites say to mix the compost and seeds first, then add the clay; others say to mix all components together and then add the water. Below are instructions from Gardening Know How — we chose them for their clarity and completeness.

  1. Mix the soil, clay and 1 part water thoroughly. There should be no lumps. Slowly add more water until the mixture is the consistency of toy store molding clay that come in a can.
  2. Add seeds. Keep kneading dough until the seeds are well mixed in. Gradually add more water if necessary.
  3. Take small bits of the clay mixture and roll into one-inch-diameter balls. The balls should hold together easily. If they’re crumbly, add more water.
  4. Dry seed balls for 24-48 hours in a shady place before sowing or storing. They store best in a cardboard box. Do not use plastic bags.

The last step is sowing the seed balls. Yes, you can place them carefully over the area to be planted or you can toss them one at a time (which is a lot more fun). But don’t bury them and don’t water them. Of course, in Texas you may have to water lightly once or twice depending on the winter weather.

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