Date of this Version
Schacht, W., Soper, J., and Wienhold, C., (2017). Improving Wildflower Longevity in Roadside Seeding Areas. Nebraska Department of Transportation Research Report M329.
Re-vegetation efforts on bare roadsides of newly-constructed highways are primarily focused on the stabilization of soil to reduce rates of erosion. The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) seeds roadsides with a diverse mixture of grasses and wildflowers for site stabilization as well as to enhance the visual quality of roadsides. Although grasses dominate roadside plantings in terms of cover and density, wildflowers are largely responsible for the visual enhancement of recently-seeded roadsides. In addition to the visual component, wildflowers provide essential ecological functions on roadsides. Wildflowers improve water and nutrient cycling in the compacted roadside soils by increasing water infiltration and nutrient availability. Leguminous wildflower species increase nitrogen content of soil. The variability of wildflower leaf size, shape and orientation provides a more continuous soil cover than grass alone. The diversity of wildflower growth habits and life cycles also allows for a greater range of stand establishment and persistence when compared to sites seeded to grasses alone. This article presents strategies for increasing wildflower success in roadside plantings.