November 2015

If you remember from last year we started a new (!) native plant project at our new house. We tarped off an area in August of 2014, uncovered it a month later, and after preparing it we spread a mixture of Florida native wildflower seeds.

We had mixed results. The tickseed blew up in the spring like expected (giving us lots of hope), but then by July only a few scattered black eye susan and blanket flower appeared. We planted some native milkweed, which survived, but we didn’t see much in the way of butterflies. Two stand-alone plantings (flame azalea and Ilex Nellie Stevens aka Nellie Stevens Holly) failed in the wildflower area, but the same plants survived in other parts of the yard. By the end of the summer the wildflower area grew over with some kind of weed grass (which, though a weed, is pretty).

Was there too much shade? Back at the old house, the original native plant garden was a sun-blasted piece of sandy ground we nicknamed “The Valley of Death” that the wildflowers thrived in. But this new area had some shade, or more precisely, wasn’t completely blasted by the sun at all hours. The single spot that did get blasted the most grew just a few flowers and no weeds. Who knows…

So this past August we tarped a new stretch of ground that a) is weedy and b) gets sun for nearly all of the day. In September we pulled the tarp, the kids raked the ground to create tiny furrows, and then spread the seeds over the furrows. After they finished spreading they got to stomp around so the seeds were buried (they loved the stomping around part). You can see images of it above.

If all goes as planned the tickseed (Coreopsis basalis) will pop up in the spring and we should know by late June of 2016 if the wildflowers take. This time around, in addition to the tickseed, we planted more blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella), Black eye susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and a honeybee specialty mix that includes a variety of Florida native wildflower seeds that will be attractive to bees if they sprout.

In addition I plan to plant at least one more Ilex Nellie Stevens in a different area. The existing Nellie Stevens Holly needs a mate to produce berries, so I need to get one planted now if I want the pretty red berries for Christmas 2016.

I will keep updating this as I go along!

Author: Sean Hess

To see our original native plants blog going back to 2011, just click here.