Cold Weather – Perfect Time for Wildflower Planting
Last week, during a day when the high temperature was barely above freezing, about 20 people were sowing native wildflower seeds in areas of the Skalkaho Bend Park on the south edge of Hamilton near the Bitterroot River..
The seeding effort was organized by the Bitterroot Audubon Chapter, in coordination with the City of Hamilton, and was undertaken to grow native plant species that encourage small insects such as butterflies and pollinators such as bees.
The volunteers were out during a windy 30-degree day, which insures that the seeds won't germinate and will lay dormant until spring, as nature intended. Experts recommend that wildflowers be planted after a couple of hard freezes, when competing plants are not a competitive factor. In fact, they recommend a temperature below 45 degrees. Also, most wildflowers naturally drop their seeds in the fall. Winter weather cracks open the outer shell and snowcover can add some moisture to get the seeds growing.
Becky Peters of the Audubon chapter provided instructions for proper dispersion of the numerous varieties, including the simple process of walking on top of them to compress the seeds into the oil, but not too deep. They need sunlight to grow.
Becky said, "We know that the pollinator population has really gone down. Pollinators help with one-third of our food. So they are important not only to the birds, but they're important to us and what we see and what we eat."
However, don't expect to see a lot of wildflowers next year. Becky explained, "Maybe we'll see few stragglers like in May or June of 2022, but it's 2023 when they're really going to start showing up."