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Sunday - March 01, 2009

From: Norman, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Project involving wildflower seeds for Earth Day
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hello, I am trying to find a relatively quick and easy project involving wildflower seeds for an Earth Day Celebration. We have roughly 1,000 kids come through. In the past I have done wildflower seed balls, but would like to try something new this year. Several people said that their wildflower balls never grew wildflowers. Is there anything I can do to increase germination?


For our own information, we checked and found that Earth Day this year is April 22, 2009. This website earthday.net has an excellent presentation on Earth Day 2009: The Green Generation which might give you some ideas or lead you to some projects for your group. We did some searching on the Internet for other quick projects for kids, but most of them require more intense adult volunteer supervision and more time to complete than you might have available.

Even though you would like to try something different, we still think the seedball is an ideal kid project-every kid loves to make mudballs. Our  How-To Article, How to Make Seed Balls, has been recently revised and might have some better information for you. In terms of the seeds from the mudballs never germinating, how do you know they didn't? As Fall rains (when we have them) come along, the mud ball begins to disintegrate and the seeds blend into the surrounding soil. Some wildflower seeds may lie in the ground dormant for years, waiting for the right conditions to germinate, and then pop up.  This is a very good point to make with the young people you work with-this is not instant gratification but a process involving time, patience, some water, some sunshine and a little luck. In particular, note the paragraph at the end about using only seeds native to the area in which the mudballs will be used. We are going to list a few wildflowers native to Oklahoma that you might consider for your project. These all propagate easily from seed and, since they are native, they will require less fertilizer, water and maintenance.

Callirhoe alcaeoides (light poppymallow)

Castilleja indivisa (entireleaf Indian paintbrush)

Callirhoe involucrata (purple poppymallow)

Coreopsis grandiflora (largeflower tickseed)

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed)

Dracopis amplexicaulis (clasping coneflower)

Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Oenothera macrocarpa ssp. macrocarpa (bigfruit evening-primrose)

Oenothera speciosa (pinkladies)

Ratibida columnifera (upright prairie coneflower)

Viola pedata (birdfoot violet)

Callirhoe alcaeoides

Castilleja indivisa

Callirhoe involucrata

Coreopsis grandiflora

Coreopsis tinctoria

Dracopis amplexicaulis

Gaillardia pulchella

Helianthus maximiliani

Oenothera macrocarpa ssp. macrocarpa

Ratibida columnifera

Viola pedata







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