Not nukes… Mississippi Wildflowers
By Victoria Locke
From vacant lots to highway easements, open meadows to suburban backyards, wildflowers could be springing up, with a little help from some willing accomplices.
All it takes to paint the landscape with color come summer, is a successful way to distribute seeds, and you don’t even have to cultivate the soil. The solution is seed balls – or as the Sierra Club has dubbed them, seed bombs, “little grenades of gala” that are ready to explode with blossoms with a little help from spring showers. It’s a natural project for families, scout troops, church groups or communities, and what’s more, it’s easy and fun. It just takes some clay, a little compost, and the right seeds.
Before we get to the specific directions for making your seed balls, it’s important to note that for the best results you need the right seeds. Varieties of wildflowers that are native to your area will not only grow more successfully, you also will avoid the pitfalls of introducing a non-native, invasive plant you’ll want to get rid of some day after it takes over and crowds out it’s neighbors.
To be sure you have the right seeds, we suggest that you contact your local Mississippi Soil & Water Conservation Commission (MSWCC) office. The MSWCC, has partnered with the USDA Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center (PMC) near Coffeeville to create the Mississippi Wildflower Conservation Program. Seeds cultivated and harvested at the PMC are more disease and insect resistant and have higher reseeding rates than seeds not indigenous to the state purchased from other parts of the country.
The varieties that can be purchased at MSWCC offices (depending on current availability) include: Plains Coreopsis, Bur Marigold, Cardinal Flower, Black-eyed Susan, Lyre-leaf Sage, Swamp Rose Mallow, Partridge Pea and Purple Coneflower. Also available is information about ideal growing conditions for these varieties, such as full sun or deep shade, dry or damp environments. Most seeds are packaged in one-pound packages that range in price from $10 – $30 a pound, but mixed seed packs are sometimes available in smaller quantities for around $2.50.
Whether you are just looking to spread some natural Mississippi beauty in an uncivilized corner of your own backyard, or trying to find an ideal service project for your civic organization or youth group, spreading wildflowers is a gift that will keep giving for years to come.
For information about purchasing seed through the Mississippi Wildflower Conservation program or to get the location of your local MSWCC office, call 601-354-7645 or visit www.mswcc.state.ms.us/wildflowers.
How to make your own seed balls
A large flat surface to work on.
Now, for the fun part – toss your seed balls wherever you want to see Mississippi wildflowers sprout – vacant lots, roadsides, natural areas in your own backyard!
The hardened clay protects the seeds inside from temperature changes, birds and insects until the weather supports sprouting. As rain helps to wear away the clay, the seeds will start to germinate. The rest is up to Mother Nature. You’ve done your part.