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How to Sow Wildflower Seeds

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.

See: 5 tips to consider when choosing a wildflower seed mixture 

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Soil temperatures

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.

See: When to plant wildflower seeds

 

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.

Preparing the seedbed as far in advance as possible of sowing will allow weeds to germinate and be removed before sowing. You should begin preparing the ground at least one month in advance of sowing for best results.

When soil temperatures are warm enough and you are ready to sow, create a fine firm seedbed by lightly digging over and raking the soil or using a harrow.

See: What wildflower mix to plant and where

 

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.

 

 

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.

See: Meadow Seeds or Wildflower Seeds only?

 

How to Sow Sunflower Seeds

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.

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