Planning a wildflower area in your garden? In this article we discuss the best time to plant wildflowers from seed, plug plants or wildflower turf.
When growing wildflowers it’s always best to keep things simple and copy Mother Nature.
- Sow wildflower seed in late summer or autumn
- Plug plants like to be planted out in autumn or spring
- Wildflower turf can be installed at any time of year
- For flowers in the first summer, establish plants before April
- Autumn planting/sowing creates stronger plants and a better floral display
- Watch out for weeds! Wildflower turf will prevent annual weed seeds from germinating
Growing wildflowers from seed
There’s no doubt about it, growing wildflowers from seed seems like the most cost effective option. It’s also (in theory) easy to do. Simply prepare the ground, sprinkle on the seeds and keep them moist.
For best results, don’t spread the seeds too generously. 2 -3 grams per square metre is plenty. Remember that each tiny seed has the potential to grow into a big plant. And big plants need room to spread their roots.
Make sure the seeds have good contact with the soil, but don’t bury them. Most wildflower seeds need light to stimulate growth.
Expect wildflower seeds to behave very differently from the seeds of cultivated plants though. They make take a long time to germinate (up to 2 years for some species).
If you are sowing annual wildflowers such as cornflowers, common poppies and corn marigolds you will need to re-sow them every year. For a longer lasting wildflower meadow, choose perennial species such as oxeye daisy, clover, mallow and campion.
Wildflower seed can be sown in autumn or in springtime. For the strongest plants and most vibrant summer display aim to sow your seeds between September and November. In nature, the seeds of wildflowers are naturally dispersed when summer flowering finishes. They fall onto the ground and start to germinate when the autumn rains come along.
Growing wildflower plug plants
Plug plants are a great way to introduce wildflowers into a lawn or an existing herbaceous border. Always buy from a reputable grower. One of my favourites is British Wild Flowers from Norfolk – they despatch healthy plants at the optimum time of year for planting. Normally autumn time but some can also be planted in spring.
No need to keep your plug plants in the greenhouse (unless the grower tells you differently) instead, put them straight into the ground. Keep them well watered until you are confident that they have established.
If you are planting into a lawn, clear a nice space for each plant so that the grass doesn’t out-compete them.
Planting a wildflower area from turf
The great thing about wildflower turf is that it can be installed at any time of year. However, if you are in no particular hurry, I would always advise establishing wildflower turf in autumn if you can.
If your wildflowers are planted in autumn, they will spend the winter developing super-strong roots. Come the spring, those roots will ensure that the plants have all the water and nourishment they need to produce vibrant flowers with lots of nectar for the bees.