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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - January 30, 2006

From: Hot Springs, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Sowing additional wildflower and grass seeds on steep hillside
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty, we recently moved to Hot Springs, AR. We have about a 1000 sf hillside area too steep to plant with shrubs etc. We had wildflower seeds scattered last May in this area and the flowers were beautiful, but there seemed to be lots of non-flowering weeds spreading over into adjoining flowers/shrubs planted in a not too hilly area. My question is, this year, should I be concerned about the weeds (Will they be choked out eventually) and also is it okay to cast more wildflowers? I did not plant the wildflowers last year, so I would appreciate a brief description of how you would plant more wildflowers. Thank you so much.

ANSWER:

Yes, you should sow more wildflowers and you should consider sowing some native grasses with them. The grasses will help displace weeds and will serve as an attractive background for your wildflowers. A couple of suggested species of grasses are Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis) and Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). You can find more recommended grasses and other plants native to Arkansas in the Southeast Recommended Native Plant Species list on the Regional Factpacks page. I also recommend that you visit the Native Plant Library page where you will find an article, "Large Scale Wildflower Planting", with advice about sowing seeds over large areas. I also suggest you look at the "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" article for ideas on how to manage your hillside once your wildflowers are growing. You can search by state or region for nurseries and seed companies that specialize in native plants in the National Suppliers Directory. Finally, some of the plants you are perceiving as "weeds" may be biennial or perennial wildflowers that have not yet developed to the flowering stage; so give them a little time to develop before you pull them all up.
 

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