Published August 08, 2023
|Written By Lara Wadsworth
Many of us dream of the perfect wildflower garden. The stunning and vibrant flowers burst forth like fireworks in the spring and remain until the frost. It is low-maintenance and easy to enjoy from a window, balcony, or patio. However, there’s more than meets the eye with wildflowers. Not only are they brilliantly colored but they have numerous benefits beyond that.
1. Promote Pollinators
It is no secret these days that pollinators are crucial to the ecosystem and many of them are at risk. Butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds, for example, are all pollinators whose populations have declined and rely heavily on wildflowers. The USDA estimates that pollinators are responsible for one third of all the food we consume. That’s a lot! By simply planting a native wildflower mix in your yard, field, pasture, or other expanse, you can directly encourage the populations of pollinators to increase.
2. Reduce Soil Erosion
Wildflowers are flowers particularly adapted to a certain region and considered native there. This means that the roots of these plants are adapted to growing in whatever soil type they are native to. Therefore, they are more likely to withstand local weather patterns and variations, preventing erosion of the soil in which they live. The root systems grip the soil and secure it to itself and other plants nearby to create a supportive network of roots!
3. Hold Onto Carbon
Wildflower roots naturally hold onto carbon in the soil that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Carbon in the atmosphere is one of the main culprits of climate change and global warming effects. Planting more wildflowers on your land will ultimately reduce your home and lifestyle's carbon footprint.
4. Medicinal Uses
Wildflowers have been used for centuries by native peoples to treat a wide variety of illnesses and ailments. One of my favorites is the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) which is native to many areas of North America. It can reduce the length and intensity of mild colds. There are literally hundreds of native wildflowers with a hundred more uses in the kitchen and in the medicine cabinet. They can play a huge part in homesteader self-sufficiency regarding everyday bumps, scrapes, and colds.
5. Creates Needed Wildlife Habitats
Besides pollinators, various other animals take refuge in a well-stocked wildflower field. Many native animal species rely on the food sources of wildflowers to survive. Wildflowers are well adapted to the animals of their region and can withstand the grazing of local wildlife. So, you don’t have to worry too much about your wildflower field getting mowed down by the local deer population.
6. Reduce Pesticide Use
Native wildflower species encourage the presence of beneficial insects. Beneficial insects are a broad umbrella of hundreds of native insects that target common garden pests and keep the ecosystem in balance, preventing infestations requiring a pesticide application of some kind to solve.
7. Greater Overall Soil Health
Native wildflowers work together to benefit the environment. The plants are more than just the flowers. They typically form mycelial networks beneath the soil to enhance soil fertility and resistance to various issues. Furthermore, the biodiversity that a healthy wildflower field offers is crucial to preserving nutrients and general ecosystems. The potential for biodiversity in a wildflower field is shocking and can have a great impact on soil health for years to come.
8. Reduce Invasive Species
Think of it like this: If you have a patch of bare soil and you do nothing to it, what will most likely occur is a spattering of weeds and invasive species popping up. These harmful plants are readily available in most areas and have little to no environmental benefit. However, if you plant wildflower seeds in the spring or fall, they will most likely pop up before the weeds do, thus reducing the invasive species count in that area. The wildflowers will not allow the weed seeds to become established, as there will be no room for them.
|Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer
I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!