In spite of that freakish fortune, the prudent thing to do in a La Niña year is to plan for unseasonably dry weather. In terms of fall planting, this means sowing wildflower seeds on the late side, from Halloween through Christmas. Planting of seedlings and bulbs can be done earlier, from early October onwards, keeping in mind that when Santa Anas blow in through December, you’ll need to irrigate to prevent the desert winds from wicking every last drop of water from newly installed plants and especially vulnerable stock still sitting in nursery pots.
The benefit of buying wildflower seed from Theodore Payne is the romance of poking around the foundation's seed drawer and the presence of a knowledgeable staff. The Los Angeles seed company Stover also deserves credit for consistently stocking fresh California native wildflower seeds in Home Depot and for offering a far more interesting collection from its online store at WildflowersOnline.com.
Once wildflowers germinate, they will put out just enough foliage to begin slowly sending down roots. The real spurt won’t begin until after winter solstice. Steadily lengthening days of January and February spur the growth that results in a spring flush of flowers that always has people asking if April is the time to plant poppies.