Wildflowers: Colorful flowers still adorn Virginia's highways

Highway and Road TransportationJamestown (Jamestown, Virginia)York County (Virginia)Virginia Department of TransportationYork (York, Pennsylvania)Newport News (Newport News, Virginia)

The Virginia Department of Transportation no longer actively maintains its wildflower program along Virginia's highways, but the flower power still grows there, year after year, thanks to the seeds that continue to germinate. 

Travelers in the Williamsburg to Newport News area can still see plantings along I-64, the exit ramps, Route 134 in York County, Jamestown Road and some storm water basins. The wildflowers are:

Black-eyed Susan

Ox-eyed Daisy

Cosmos

Tickseed

Bachelor Button

Day Lilies

Daffodils (various varieties)

Did you know?

  • Colorful plantings help fight "highway hypnosis" and driver fatigue.
  • Wildflowers contribute to the environment by providing a source of nourishment for songbirds and beneficial insects.

Show your support with wildflower license plates

The best way for you to support roadside wildflower planting is to put some wildflowers on your license plate.

The flowers blooming on the license -- black-eyed Susan's, blue bells and butterfly weed -- are all Virginia natives that appear along the highway, according to the VDOT website.

To order a plate for your car, go to the  Department of Motor Vehicles online plate purchase process and select "wildflower" from the special in terest list of plates.

You can also obtain the plates at your nearest DMV office.

The cost of the specialty plate is $25 per year, $15 of which goes to Operation Wildflower.

How do I plant wildflowers?

Achieving proper seed to soil contact is the most important part of planting. Casually spreading seed on an unprepared area won't allow the contact necessary for a successful wildflower garden. And if you till the soil too deep, you'll encourage unwanted weeds to grow rapidly. A little work and patience will reward you in the long run with a successful stand of blooms. These step-by-step procedures will help you get the best possible results.

To plant on bare soil and bark mulch beds:

  1. Loosen the soil surface with a garden rake. (No more than one-half inch deep.)

  2. Mix seeds thoroughly to provide equal distribution. (Small seeds tend to filter to the bottom of the mix.)

  3. Spread the seed by hand on the area to be planted.

  4. Lightly rake over the area to establish proper seed/soil contact.

To plant on existing grass:

  1. Use an herbicide to eliminate any vegetation that may compete with the wildflowers.

  2. Mow the existing vegetation as short as possible. Rake and remove the clippings.

  3. Rake the area with a garden rake to loosen soil surface or hoe lightly. (No more than one-half inch deep.)

  4. Mix seeds thoroughly to provide equal distribution. (Small seeds tend to filter to the bottom of the mix.)

  5. Spread the seed by hand on the area to be planted.

  6. Lightly rake over the area to establish proper soil/seed contact.

NOTE: Do not plant wildflowers in grasses like annual rye grass or fescue that grow during winter, as the winter grasses will be too aggressive to allow the wildflowers to become established.

List of wildflower seed vendors: http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-wflowr-vendors.asp

Source: http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/prog-wflowr-faqs.asp

 

Posted by Kathy Van Mullekomkvanmullekom@aol.com

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