How Much Light Do Wildflower Seeds Need to Germinate?

Wildflowers are some of the most charming and beginner-friendly additions to your outdoor garden, although they are fairly unique to sow as most varieties need light to germinate. One common mistake gardeners make is burying their Wildflower seeds in the soil, as they would a vegetable or other flowering plants. 

Wildflower seeds need 2000-5000 foot candles of either bright indoor sunlight or full sunlight outdoors to germinate. 

Since Wildflowers are prolific growers, you may still find they will germinate in lower light conditions, but you will get more seedlings under full sun conditions. 

Which Wildflower Varieties Need Light to Germinate? 

Nearly all Wildflower seeds need light to germinate. So instead of burying your Wildflower seeds beneath the soil, leave them sitting on top of the soil so they can successfully germinate and sprout. 

Here Are Some Common Wildflower Varieties That Need Light to Germinate:

  • Gray Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis
  • Common Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)
  • Purple Cornflower (Echinacea Purpurea
  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda Fistulosa
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis
  • Fall Sneezewood (Helenium Autumnale
  • Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)

If you purchase your seeds from a reputable grower or garden center, most packets will indicate whether or not these need light to germinate. You can also buy packs of seeds that are a variety of different types of Wildflowers compatible with your particular zone. In this case, it’s best not to bury those seeds unless directed otherwise, as most Wildflower seeds need light, and those that do not should still germinate. 

Should I Start My Wildflower Seeds Indoors?

wild flower
While not necessary, you can start your Wildflower seeds indoors. Wildflower seeds can be started directly in the soil outdoors in the right conditions, but there are quite a few benefits to starting Wildflower seeds indoors:

  • Starting seeds indoors is a great way to control their environment. You can avoid adverse weather conditions, particularly if you live in an area with unpredictable shoulder seasons. 
  • Wildflower seeds will germinate when the soil temperatures are 55°F (12°C) or warmer, so starting your Wildflower seeds indoors will ensure that the soil conditions are optimal, even in early spring. 
  • You can start growing your Wildflowers earlier in the season and take advantage of succession planting, where you stagger your planting throughout the season so you can enjoy blooms much longer. 
  • Your Wildflower seedlings will not have to compete with weeds or natural predators such as hungry squirrels or birds.

When you eventually transfer your Wildflower seedlings outdoors, ensure that you do so gradually. Even if you give them the best light possible indoors, there is a big difference between indoor light and full sun. So give your Wildflower seedlings a few hours of dappled sunlight for a few days before transplanting them into the ground. This will prevent transplant shock or damaging the leaves of your Wildflowers. 

How Much Light Do Wildflowers Seeds Need To Germinate Indoors?

When starting your Wildflower seeds indoors, you will want as much light as possible. Find a sunny Southern or Western-facing window with minimal obstructions like trees or other buildings. You can purchase a grow light if there isn’t enough light to start your seeds. 

When is the Best Month to Plant Wildflower seeds?

If you are starting your Wildflower seeds outdoors, you will want to begin sowing your seeds after the threat of frost has passed. It would be best if you waited to plant Wildflower seeds outdoors until soil temperatures consistently remain above 55°F (12°C)

Depending on your location, this could be anywhere from April to June. You can start your Wildflower seeds in the fall if you live in a warmer climate. Once they germinate, they will go dormant over the winter and bloom the following spring. 

Can I Just Scatter Wildflower Seeds?

In the wild, most Wildflower seeds scatter themselves in the wind or hitch a ride on animals to spread. You can scatter your Wildflower seeds in a location that receives direct sunlight for 6-8 hours daily. However, most Wildflower seeds are airborne and can easily blow away in the wind, so you will want to ensure that they make contact with the soil and are secure so they can successfully germinate. 

How Can I Secure My Wildflower Seeds?

There are a few ways that you can encourage your Wildflower seeds to make contact with the soil, so they don’t blow away before they germinate: 

  • Use a seed roller (you can typically rent them from your local hardware store).
  • Lay cardboard paper down over the seeded area and gently walk across them.
  • Gently press the seeds down with your finger.
  • Use a tamper and gently tamp down the seeds (you can rent or purchase these at your local garden center or hardware store)

Wildflower seeds are very hardy, so depending on the size of the flower bed you are growing, using special equipment is often unnecessary unless you are growing a large bed of Wildflowers.  

Can I Plant Wildflower Seeds With Grass and Weeds?

Many people will plant Wildflower seeds hoping to crowd out grass and weeds, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Fortunately, Wildflowers can grow quite well in poor and even rocky soil, but they will lose the battle with grass and weeds every time. Before planting your Wildflower seeds, ensure the location is clear of grass or vegetation. This is particularly important when trying to encourage Wildflower seeds to germinate and grow into seedlings. 

How Long Should It Take Wildflowers To Sprout?

sprouting seeds
Depending on the variety, Wildflowers can take a few days to several weeks to fully germinate and become seedlings. However, most Wildflowers will germinate within 14-21 days, so make sure you are patient with your Wildflower seeds. 

If you sow your Wildflower seeds in the spring, they will germinate and become seedlings within 21 days. However, if you are planting your Wildflower seeds in the early fall months while the temperatures are still warm, they may germinate but become dormant once the temperature drops. In this case, you can expect seedlings to sprout from the soil the following spring.   

How Long Does It Take For Wildflowers To Grow?

Once your Wildflowers have germinated and established themselves as seedlings, it will take approximately 40-60 days before your Wildflowers will mature and start producing blooms. The precise timing may vary depending on the variety of Wildflowers and the growing conditions. 

How Often Should I Water Wildflower Seeds?

Once you sow your Wildflower seeds, you will want to keep the soil moist until they germinate. Depending on your climate, particularly since you have sowed them in a location receiving plenty of direct sunlight, you may need to water them quite frequently until they start to sprout and reach 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). 

Letting your Wildflower seed dry out could result in a seed that is no longer viable, so it’s a good idea to monitor your Wildflower seeds daily in particularly warm or dry weather. 

How To Grow Wildflowers In Pots

You can start your Wildflower seeds in containers or pots as you would directly into the ground. Wildflowers are generally not picky about the type of potting soil that you use, as long as it is well-draining and the pot itself has plenty of drainage. Though unnecessary, you can add compost to your container to establish strong growth. 

Once your seeds have germinated and started to develop, make sure to water the soil once it dries out, and your container receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to encourage more blooms. If you find that the soil dries out very quickly, you can add a layer of mulch or decorative gravel on top of the soil to help retain moisture. 


When started right, Wildflowers add a beautiful pop of color to your garden and don’t require much effort in care. Sowing your Wildflowers in a location with bright sunlight is the ideal way to encourage successful germination for nearly all Wildflower species, with up to 5000 Foot Candles or full sunlight recommended. 

It’s important to ensure your Wildflower seeds are placed on top of the soil and not buried underneath, as this will make it difficult for the seeds to germinate. It may be easier to germinate your Wildflower seeds indoors so you can protect them from pests and weather like wind or rain.

Your Wildflower seeds should germinate within 14-21 days and start maturing and blooming in another 40-60 days. If you are patient with this flower, you will have a beautiful garden of blooming Wildflowers that last all summer.