Salvia coccinea

Time to plant seeds!

It’s fall — time to plant your wildflower seeds!
by Dixie Tate

You know the old saying: There’s no time like the present. That rings particularly true when it comes to Florida’s native wildflowers this time of year. Fall has arrived, and for those who would like to be able to enjoy a touch of native beauty in the spring, this is the perfect time to plant.

Fall presents just the right growing conditions. “You can plant almost everything in the fall,” says Terry Zinn, president of Wildflowers of Florida, Alachua. “And when the right weather comes along in the spring, they start to stretch up.”

Though fall is the preferred time to start, planting can begin as early as September in the Panhandle and as late as January in the southern tip of the state.

Zinn’s wildflower spread began in 1996 as a desire to improve the looks of a long driveway on his property. That eventually grew into a quest to find out how to take a species from the wild “and grow it so other people can enjoy it.” Now his 40-acre farm includes 3 1/2 acres covered with landscape fabric for growing wildflowers and collecting seed.

Whether you have a 5- by 5-foot space, a 2-foot-wide area along a sidewalk or an entire backyard, there’s nothing like a few wildflowers to add some color to your landscape. Those who live in apartments or condos will be happy to know that no space is too small. Porch? Balcony? All that is needed is a pot, some sand and some organic soil and gravel in the bottom to hold moisture.

Step-by-step planting

1. Choose a location that is sunny and not full of weeds.
2. Determine suitable species, using such sources as the Native Plant Society’s Web site.
3. Determine when to sow seed. (Fall is the perfect time.)
4. Start site preparation 1 month prior to seeding.
5. Mow site one day before seeding.
6. Scratch or firm up soil. Don’t till.
7. Sow seed.
8. Work seed into soil.
9. Irrigate.
10. Keep weeds out.
11. Do not fertilize the first year.

For more information on planting your garden, check out our two-part series on “Native Florida Wildflowers” on our YouTube channel.

Salvia coccinea
Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea)