La Crosse, Wisconsin

Value Wildflowers

  • Clasping Coneflower
  • Plaines Coreopsis
  • Scarlet Flax
  • Candytuft
  • Red Corn Poppy
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Dwarf Coneflower
  • Annual Gaillardia

Prairies can grow well on any soil type as long as the site is relatively sunny.

SEEDBED PREPARATION

There are several ways to prepare a site for seeding. Important factors for a successful planting are contact of seeds with the soil, a firm seedbed, and some method of discouraging competition from annual weeds.

If erosion is not too much of a problem, plow or till your area late fall or early spring. Disc shallowly at approximately two-week intervals. Drag or rake before seeding. If the seeds are broadcast, drag or rake again after seeding. The area should then be packed to make a firm seedbed. For small areas, a water filled lawn packer works well. For large areas, a field roller such as a cultipacker works well.

On highly erodable sites or very weedy areas, the use of short-lived herbicide is sometimes recommended. Spray when vegetation if 4-6” tall. After plants die, the area can then be shallowly disked or raked, then dragged, and planted as above. An option is to direct seed with a slit seeder or no-till drill after spraying.

PLANTING DATES

Prairies can be planted in spring and early summer and again in late fall just before the ground freezes.

SEEDING

An area as large as an acre can be hand seeded by one person in a few hours. Mix the seed thoroughly with an inert material to increase bulk. Work slowly and try to cover the ground as evenly as possible. Always divide the seed in half and broadcast the area from two directions. A light wind greatly aids in getting even distribution. Setting up a grid system using flags or markers will also help to get the seeds spread evenly.

MAINTENANCE

For the first season or two, prairie plants will spend most of their energy producing deep root systems in preparation for the periodic droughts that plague prairie climates. As a result, the first year or two it will appear as if annual weeds are taking over the area. Given a little light, however, by the third year prairie plants will grow up and spread out, smothering and crowding out the weeds.