Expectations and Management Tips for First Year Plantings
Whether you seeded over the fall or winter or this spring, we know you're excited to see your seeds sprout. With the warm weather comes growth and we get a lot of inquiries this time of year asking "What do I do now?" The answer is simple...nothing! Native plants from your seed mixes take a while to wake up the first growing season. Soil temperatures are just now getting consistently warm enough to encourage germination in most locations.
What Am I Seeing Now?
You are likely seeing a combination of volunteer plant growth from the seed bank and little circle cotyledons scattered across the landscape very low to the ground. This young growth is primarily from the seed you sowed. Most of the taller species (1 foot or taller) are likely volunteers. Now that will change quickly, but for late May it is likely the case.
Resist The Urge To Pull!
I know the gardener in you wants to get in there and pull out all the undesirable plants you don't want, but we don't recommend it. Those young native plants are very susceptible at this growth stage and even just stepping on them can damage them. There will be plenty of time this summer to get in there and manage. Now, there are circumstances where you do manage this early. In those rare instances, the volunteer growth may be so dense that it is choking out the native plants from establishing. It is all about weighing risk vs. reward. If you're not sure how to proceed, don't manage! Feel free to contact us for guidance.
What To Expect In The Upcoming Weeks
With the warmer temperatures and periodic rain events (hopefully!), the plants should shoot up. There will likely be volunteer plants with annual species and fast growing native perennials. No matter how much prep work you do, nature finds a way. The key is to identify the volunteers to determine if they are desirable or not. If they are not desirable, cutting them out is the best option for removal. The focus should be on keeping them from producing seed and adding to the seed bank. Pulling or spraying are not recommended in most cases as these actions can harm adjacent desirable plants. Over managing and over watering are two of the main reasons we see native landscapes struggle to establish. Contact us for guidance if you're not sure what you're seeing. If you need more in-depth first year management advice, check out our How To Plant Native Grass and Wildflower Seed Guide.
I do want to point out that this guidance is for MOST people and landscapes. It is impossible for us to give overarching advice for everyone as each landscape is unique. Soils, preparation, weather, previous land usage, seed bank, adjacent properties, etc can all play important roles in what grows on a site. If you notice that one or two types of plants are taking over the whole site, you may need to act. If that is the case, contact us and we can offer advice.