Written by Hunter Kirn, Education and Curriculum Development Intern
Learning about native wildflowers couldn’t be more wonderful for May 19th, National Plant Something Day, and May 20th, Flower Day! Here we will look at the importance of native wildflowers specifically to California, as native flowers that work in California may not work in other states. When referring to plants being native to California, native means they are of indigenous origin or growth. Native wildflowers take up less time and energy to manage. As a result, they take up less water and thrive in the environment that they live in.
So what are the benefits of growing and having native wildflowers in California? Native Wildflowers support our ecosystem. Mainly they help bugs and animals, especially pollinators. Pollinators include bees and butterflies. These butterflies are very important to our ecosystem. Their role as a pollinator helps support the growth of our plants. The natural life of a bee and butterfly helps us get the food we need. Without bees and butterflies, we could not grow our regular quantity or certain types of fruits and vegetables for our grocery stores and farmer’s markets. This is why native wildflowers are important. We can support bees and butterflies by growing native wildflowers, and having native wildflowers provides food for us and wildlife. Wildflowers not only support wildlife, but they also support our soil by holding nutrition. Wildflowers also help filter our air, and clean air is vital to the earth.
So what can you do to help the wildflowers? Well, in addition to May 19th being National Grow Something Day and May 20th being Flower Day you can help plant wildflowers! Planting native wildflowers is an easy way to help the ecosystem. Just make sure you are planting California native wildflowers and not invasive species or native wildflowers for other states. You can also look up specific native flowers that are more linked to the region you are in. For example, NorCal and SoCal can have more specific native wildflowers for their area. So the first step to help plant wildflowers is to ensure the flowers you will be planting are correct. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is an excellent resource for finding a list of California Native wildflowers.
After you obtain your seeds, make sure to double-check that there are no invasive species in your seed mix. If you plan to get a mixed seed mix, double and triple-check that the flower seeds in that mix are native to California. If the seeds are not native to California and you plan to sprinkle them all over your community, this can cause harm to our ecosystem, and they may not thrive as well. The next step is to plant your seeds! You can do this by walking around your neighborhood, finding bare dirt patches, and sprinkling the seeds. It can be those dirt patches in the middle of the road (and if you are a kid, make sure you bring an adult). You can spread the seeds almost anywhere there is plain dirt or patchy green grass areas that could look better. Because you’re spreading native wildflower seeds especially native to California, they don’t need any other maintenance after you sprinkle the seeds. In addition, if you are tired of taking care of your grass front lawn all the time, planting native wildflowers can be a great alternative! Native wildflowers take up less water than grass and are easier to maintain. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy has a guide that has color-specific California native wildflower names in case you want to have a specific color or look for your lawn.
So what are you waiting for! Now that you have amazing resources for California native wildflowers, go out and beautify your city and neighborhood while also taking care of the ecosystem!
Happy National Plant Something Day and Flower Day!