Bring Your Garden to Life
Studies say that wildflowers and native plants are some of the best plants for bees and butterflies, providing them with the much-needed nectar and pollen essentials to thrive. If space allows every garden should include some wildflowers in the border or patio tubs, better still if you can give up a patch of lawn you can convert it into a wildflower paradise.
If you want to create a vibrant explosion of colour and life and have a suitable patch of land to convert then between now and October is the ideal time to sow the seeds, depending on soil conditions. Or if you’re not ready to do so now then look to do so in spring. For your wildflower meadow to thrive, and with a true perennial wildflower mix it should come to life year after year, the planting area should be in an open sunny position.
Seeds grow better in poor soil conditions so there is no need for compost or fertilisers, but you will need to create a fine layer of topsoil, clearing any existing vegetation (grass and weeds) for the ideal sowing conditions. Once the ground is clear, dig or rotovate the soil then firm and rake before scattering your seeds with an even coverage, approx. 1g per sq m (1/4oz per 5 sq yd). Finally, lightly rake over and water thoroughly then wait patiently for the soil to settle and the seeds to germinate. If you choose to plant your meadow in the autumn, then you should start to see signs of life and your first flowers in spring and if planting out in spring then your blooms will appear in summer.
- Mix the wildflower seeds with a carrier (dry sand) to assist with evenly distributing the seeds across a large area.
- Watch out for birds! You may need to cover the area with netting until the seeds are established as birds will love to feast on them.
- Don’t incorporate any fertilisers or manure as it encourages the growth of grass which will impinge on the growth of the flowers.
To encourage good growth, annual wildflowers can be watered while they establish. After the initially first few weeks of watering in perennial flowers they should be left to grow naturally without any additional water, other than rainfall.
Traditionally meadows would have been maintained through grazing animals so to mimic that regeneration it is important to mow each year encouraging the young plants to form a good root system and minimise the growth of annual weeds. Leave the cuttings in situ for a few days to allow the wildflower seeds to drop before collecting and composting the cuttings.
No matter how well the soil is prepared prior to sewing and growing you may find certain weeds a constant problem and in some instances a return of grass can occur. The introduction of Yellow Rattle (Rinanthus minor) to the mix can help, as the annual semi-parasitic plant weakens the growth of grass allowing the flowers to flourish.
Once established, wildflower meadows can provide a beautiful display for many months, benefitting local wildlife and bringing joy to your garden. Where possible select seeds native to your region and always use UK native seeds.