Sowing Wildflowers Information and Tips
Understanding the requirements of successful seed germination
You will be pleased to know that it is not rocket science! Quite simply the wild flower seeds require a seed bed that they can readily root into, moisture and warm soils.
For spring sowing, you should not sow anything until soil temperatures have exceeded 4 degrees C and are rising. The seeds are unlikely to start to germinate until temperatures reach 6 – 10 c. If you are sowing in the autumn be aware that soil temperatures must remain above 6 degrees for two weeks post sowing
When to sow wildflower seeds
March to June or August to mid October is the most suitable time for sowing wildflower seeds. There are no hard and fast rules, so keep an eye on the weather. Obviously if late frosts are forecasted you should delay sowing in the spring and if a summer drought persists into the autumn, then wait for rain. Germination will be slower if the weather is dry or cold.
Preparation of the wildflower seedbed
It is important that the area you wish to sow is clear from any grasses, weeds or other plants prior to sowing, as existing plants will be competition for your wildflower seeds.
This can be done using a systemic weed killer or cultivating by tilling the soil on at least 2 occasions before sowing, when the ground is dry. Cultivating the seedbed in advance will allow weeds to germinate and be removed before sowing.
If the area has no weeds, just grass, its best not to cultivate the soil. Just kill the grass and remove dead foliage, then rake or harrow the soil to create a bare, fine firm seed bed. By not cultivating, you will stop the weed seeds in the soil from being turned up allowing them to germinate.
You should begin preparing the ground at least one month in advance of sowing for best results.
When soil temperatures are warm enough (see note above) and you are ready to sow, create a fine firm seedbed by lightly digging over and raking the soil.
Sowing rate for wildflowers
Please check recommended sowing rates before sowing, these can be found on the front of the mixture packet or on the mixture product page. Increasing this rate may result in some species outcompeting others, decreasing the rate may result in weeds or grasses to dominate.
*Estimating your seedbed area: A single bed is 2 square meters, how many single beds could you fit in the area you want to sow?
|100% Native Wildflower Seeds only: 1.5-3g per square meter|
|Pollinator Seeds: 3-5g per square meter|
|Meadow Mixes (Grass seed with wildflower seed): 5g per square meter|
Sowing the Seeds
If sowing the seed by hand, we recommend mixing the seed in with a carrier such as sand or sterile loam/compost for ease of sowing and to ensure an even broadcast of seeds.
The seed needs to be just slightly covered; only 1mm and have good soil to seed contact (just a light covering, careful not to bury them!). This can be achieved by lightly raking or by using a roller, your foot, or hand to press the seeds into contact with the soil and moisture.
Water the seeds lightly making sure that you don’t wash the seeds away.
How often should I water my wildflowers? Subsequent watering should be undertaken if the seedlings aren’t receiving sufficient water to thrive. There is nothing worse than watering enough to encourage germination then having the seedlings curl up and die in a drought. If in doubt wait for rain.
When should I expect to see the bloom?
Annual Species if sown in spring, flowers will start to appear 8-10 weeks after sowing. If sown in autumn, the plant will flower the following summer.
Perennial species will flower the following year after sowing – so be patient when you don’t see flowers the first year, they’re on their way!
What are Annual & Perennial Wildflower Species?
Annual species complete their entire life cycle in a single season. All roots, stems, leaves of the plant die annually. So, annual wildflowers complete their lifecycle in one season.
Perennial species are plants that persist for many growing seasons, the top portion of the plant dies back each winter (i.e. the flower) and regrows the following summer from the same root system. Perennials flower the second year and subsequent years after sowing.
How to maintain a wildflower meadow
If you have sown a 100% wild flower mixture then you don’t need to cut them back until after flowering in the autumn. Carefully remove by hand any competing weeds such as nettles, docks or coarse grasses.
Perennial wild flower meadows require more active management in the establishment year to control weeds and ensure that the flowers are not shaded out. Cut as frequently as necessary so that when the sward gets to 75mm high you reduce it back down to 30mm. The flowers will not suffer under this regime.
Remove the cuttings. It is really important that you remove the cuttings to keep soil fertility low and so you don't smother the emerging plants.
In the second and subsequent years there is no need to cut until after flowering has finished. Before the onset of winter cut the sward down to 10cm to prevent frost damage and again remove the cuttings. If tussock grasses begin to dominate in subsequent years it maybe necessary to revert to a frequent cutting regime for a season.
Sunflower seeds can be sown directly into the ground, 60cm apart in rows. However, we recommend to sow sunflower seeds in pots from any time between March and May, keeping them well-watered until they have grown into seedlings of approximately 15cm in height and are ready to plant out at the end of May when all the risk of frost has passed.
Once planted out, keep them well watered, feed weekly to encourage them to grow tall and stake where necessary.
If you are sowing the seeds directly into the soil, ensure the area is free from weeds and grass. Make some 12mm deep drills (holes), with 20cm between each seed. Place the seed in the hole and cover with plenty of organic matter such as well-rotten manure or garden compost. Water the seeds gently, and keep watered until plants are fully established.
As the plants grow, thin the plants out to about 40cm apart if they are crowded, leaving the strongest, tallest plants.
To protect the seedlings from slugs and snail eating them, cut the top off a plastic bottle and place over the seedling.
As the plant grows, you may need to support it with canes.