Mass planting daffs, crocus, and ? in un mowed lawn

greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)September 5, 2008

I have a one acre hilly lawn(and only a push mower) and this year we decided, given the price of gas and the effort it took to mow, to just stop mowing some of out lawn and see what it does. We just don't need so much manicured grass!

We left a swath that was about 1/5 of an acre "natural" and it ended up looking cool! The grass grew tall, and a few natural flowers grew and bloomed. We will be doing this next year.

I was thinking, I could pick up some packs of bulbs from Van Engelen, so far I was thinking of the Crocus Species Grand Collection and the Naturalizing Large Cupped Narcissi collection, and plant them out there to bloom before the grass gets too tall.

I would also be tossing out some seeds for some "wildflower" type plants. I have accumulated a few packs of "wildflower mix" seeds over the years and I hope that these would provide interest after my spring bulbs fade. Although, this year even just the grasses and "weeds" were interesting to look at.


1- Is it going to be a problem for the bulbs to simply allow the vegetation in the area they are planted in the keep growing? I am hoping that they naturalize. I presume that at the time the spring flowering bulbs are doing their thing, the grasses will be nice and short. Previously, I have grown crocus in the lawn, but after the leaves dies back I kept that are area tidy.

2- Other bulbs I should consider? I was thinking about maybe some Darwin Hybrid tulips?

3- Any other ideas for my "natural area" in my lawn? This is just something I am mulling over so it is all open for suggestions.

This area is in nearly full sun, slightly sloped, and has excellent, lovely soil. There are three apple trees in a the middle of the area so it is shady right under them when they leaf out. Bulbs seem to do really well at my place, so I am hoping this will be a low maintenance (except for initial planting!) way to have a cool feature in my yard.

I realize it will take a few zillion bulbs to fill in that much space, but I think if I put in a few bags of the big bulk packs every year, it will come along nicely.

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have no experience with a meadow, but it sounds like that's what you are doing here. Maybe there's a meadow forum?

Anyway, as long as you allow the foliage to turn brown before cutting or mowing, the bulbs you list will do fine out there, and probably will naturalize too (barring voles, squirrels, etc.)

You could also plant muscari and Snowdrops (galanthus). Don't expect more than one, maybe two years of bloom from the tulips, and it's almost certain that Darwins won't naturalize. Do some research, though, for there are some "wild" tulips that very well might as far north as you are.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 5:39PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I think that daffodils would look great under the apple trees. They might even bloom at the same time! I'd start with those and add on from there. Crocus would be nice too but might be too small to notice, until you have a couple thousand planted!

If bulbs do well in your soil, there might be a bunch of things you might try that wouldn't normally naturalize.... like the wild tulips, or lilies or a ton of other bulbs.... butdaffodils would be the best bet to start with.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 8:27PM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

Thanks for the advice, and you are right, there IS a meadow forum here! A long ago previous owner had planted Snowdrops in a few places and they are still going strong, so I may give some of those a try in my meadow as well.

kato b I think you have a good point about the crocus being small and I think I will focus more on the daffs.

I think this is a good idea to try. Hopefully I have my camera fixed come spring.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 10:35PM
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quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

Sounds like a good place for lots of Bachelors Buttons with the Dafs. The mixed wildflower packs are usually full of them, along with lots of other things that will work well. THanks for the inspiration. I plan to try it myself on a small scale in the perennial border.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 11:33AM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

I have a great idea that I saw here on long island. This year they tried something new on the highway on and off ramps. Usually the land has just plain old weedy grass and they mow it. This year they mass planted wild flower seeds -- it was spectacular! It is like something out of a painting. Right now there are thousands of cosmos (I think, i see it from a distance) blooming and I thought - If i had a large piece of land that is what I would do.

Maybe you can do this with a portion of the land. They grow very high, about 3'

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 9:17PM
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I have had excellent success with daffodils in zone 3 where I live. I have used pink charm and a yellow trumpet mix. The pink charm do require a bulb food but they look beautiful next to the yellows. I also have pink impression tulips but I find them to be spotty and in need of replanting each fall to ensure I get enough of them.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 2:54PM
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stephen_e(PA Zone 6)

Just a personal bias from a prairie restoration I did in Cedar Rapids during high school in the early 1980's. Tall grass prairie is very low maintenance, attracts wildlife and has flowers that adapted to the area, blooming over a longer time than daffs and tulips.

The Iowa DNR is willing to help.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 9:20AM
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