b256a3c6072f08bce32c0557d41ce52a

Spring used to mean wildflowers. I remember, as a young boy, exploring the hills around Irvine, Newport’s back bay, the wild areas near the Bolsa Chica reserve and the coastal canyons between Corona del Mar and Newport Beach.

Ron Vanderhoff

Armed with field guides and a knapsack I would attempt to identify and list every species of wildflower I would encounter. Those plants that I couldn’t pinpoint in the field would sacrifice a flower and a few leaves and be the subject of intense scrutiny that evening on the kitchen table. There, the writings of Munz and Jepson and others far smarter than I would tutor me.

Many of those local wildflowers have since given way to development and urban sprawl, and ironically, to home gardens where a different array of plants are intensely cultivated. Why not grow at least a few of our local native wildflowers in your own garden? I’ll tell you how.

Orange County native wildflowers can be added to almost any garden environment, from highly manicured landscapes to more natural interpretations. Many gardeners prefer to locate wildflowers in a bare area of the garden; an area of their landscape that they haven’t got to quite yet. This might be a small sloped area at the rear of the property, an unplanted portion of the front parkway near the sidewalk, a side yard or a perimeter area that has been neglected.

poppies.jpg

When buying wildflower seeds be certain that they really are local native plants. Many national seed companies include inexpensive weedy and invasive plants like nasturtium, bachelor’s buttons, alyssum and others in their mixes. Avoid these. For first timers, one of my favorite native combinations is California Poppy and our local Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus). The contrasting orange and blue is pure California.

Another nice blend is yellow Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa) with orange California Poppies, short Goldfields (Lasthenia glabrata) and the clear blue of Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii). Other choices might include Red Maids, Owl's Clover, Farewell-to-Spring, Chinese Houses, Bird's Eye Gilia, Meadowfoam, Five Spot, Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) and Cream Cups. If you cannot find these seeds available locally, most can be ordered from Larner Seeds, (www.larnerseeds.com).

Phacelia campanularia

Before you plant the seeds, do a little soil examination. Don’t make the beginners mistake of simply throwing a packet of wildflower seeds onto hard, bare, dry soil. Instead, be sure the soil is fertile and you are prepared to invest a little time and energy to get the wildflowers off to a good start.

Before broadcasting the native seeds, try this. Put the seeds into a clean empty mayonnaise jar or something similar. Add some clean sharp sand to the jar. You can get a little bag of horticultural sand at a local nursery. Fill the jar about half way, put the top on and shake the mixture for a minute or two. Punch a few holes in the lid and your ready to broadcast your seed, sand included. The sand will have scratched the seedcoat of each of the little seeds just enough to increase germination considerably.

Timing is everything when growing native wildflowers. The traditional planting time in our area is November and December, at the onset of our rainy season, when our local native plants begin their growth.

If you’re planting a small area, or have the time to nurse the seedbed a bit then you’re ready to go. But if you are hoping to grow wildflowers on a slope or away from a hose or irrigation system, then timing your seed dispersal is critical. In these applications, wait for an approaching storm; not a huge gully-washer, but a nice gentle storm if possible. Several days of cool, overcast, damp weather will do most of the germination work for you and will prevent your seed from being consumed by hungry birds.

I remember broadcasting a Poppy/Lupine mix in a small area at a freeway offramp a few years ago. I carried the jar of seed and sand around in my car for a month until, one evening, on the way home, the conditions were just right. As the sprinkles were just beginning to fall, I parked, jumped out and did my best Johnny Appleseed dance. Mother nature did the rest of the work for me and a while later the flowers were there for everyone to enjoy.

In a garden, lightly rake the wildflower seeds into the soil, more to confuse the birds than to bury the seed. Try not to disturb the soil too much, as this will encourage weeds. If it doesn’t rain, water weekly until the wildflowers are up and forming buds. Now is the time to plant a little bit of Orange County in your own back yard.

Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens , Corona del Mar and his profile can be seen at www.theMulch.com/profile/Ron Vanderhoff .

Questions from Readers November 22, 2008

Question: How do I contact The Orange County Master Gardeners to learn more about their programs? Joyce Newport Beach

Answer:The University of California Master Gardener Hotline is staffed from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Call them at 714 708-1646.


Plant Care Reminders

Apricot Monthly Plant Care
Edibles Steve Brigham

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Rangoon Creeper Monthly Plant Care
Vines Ellen Goff

Quisqualis indica (Rangoon Creeper) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

How to Slice and Re-root Large…

269 Mr. Mitch
Echeverias roots
Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden…

Cape Jasmine (Gardenia augusta) -…

4828 Julie Bawden-Davis
Gardenia Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Cherry - Sweet (Prunus avium) - Monthly…

5045 Steve Brigham
Sweet Cherry Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Plants & Such Crossword
Crossword Puzzles Garry Shirts

Puzzle #3 - Think Purple

Print this and take a few minutes and have some fun trying to figure this crossword puzzle out. Let us know if you have any suggestions for new puzzles. Be sure not to peek!
Seasons in the Garden
Seasonal Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

Plant a Garden for the Seasons

One of the greatest joys that a garden has to offer is as a reminder of seasonal change.

Connie Beck - Southwest

31649
Connie Beck
Region: Southwest

Tis the Season for Giving

4279
Amaryllis are great gifts
Forget the mundane gifts and look at these suggestions for gifts that get a “green”…

Easy to Grow and Share Paperwhites

4594
Bulb sizes differ
There is nothing like the intoxicating, spicy perfume of Narcissus Paperwhites ‘Ziva’ to…

Plant Recommendations

Salvia guaranitica
Plant Recommendations Rhonda Hayes

Supporting Pollinators: Hummingbird Magnets - Minnesota

Rhonda Fleming Hayes' Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Supporting Pollinators: Hummingbird Magnets for Minnesota and Surrounding Areas.
Magnolia quinquepeta
Plant Recommendations Chris Greenwood

Trees - Southern California

Chris Greenwood's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Trees for Southern California. 

Trees - Southern California by Ken…

22125 Ken Andersen
Agonis flexuosa
Ken Andersen's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Trees for Southern California.

Desert Trees for Arizona by Julie Plath

7473 Julie and Steve Plath
Chaste Tree
Julie Plath's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Desert Trees.

Ivies for Small Moss Filled Topiary -…

11383 Pat Hammer
Hedera helix 'Lady Frances'
Pat Hammer's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Ivies for Small Moss Filled Topiary in…

Featured Plant Care

Edible Sage Monthly Plant Care

Sage - Common Edible (Salvia officinalis) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Herbs
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Dendrobium Orchid Care

Dendrobium Orchid Plant Care

in Orchids
Orchids are as easy as A - B - C!

Baby Those Spring Bulbs

Ahhh, the time is near. Those bulbs you planted last fall are about to emerge in full…
Blueberry Monthly Plant Care

Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum x ashei var. Southern Highbush) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Echeverias roots

How to Slice and Re-root Large Echeverias

Widely known as the “Queen of Succulents,” Debra Lee Baldwin is the award-winning garden…

Plant Care Reminders List of Links

We have monthly regional plant care reminders for many plants. This is a list of links…
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads

Jungle Music Palms, Cycads & Tropical Plants - November Newsletter

Bring the Tropics Indoors! House Plants Bring Your Tropical Passion Indoors! At Jungle…
Join the Mulch and get a bunch of Walking onion bulblets!

Join the Mulch & Get a Free Bunch of Walking Onion Bulblets!

We'd like you to join theMulch and start using all of the great tools we've created to…

Popular Articles

Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)