Should I add Yellow Rattle to my wildflower meadow?

Should I add Yellow Rattle to my wildflower meadow?
Often described as ‘the meadow maker’ Yellow Rattle is continuously praised for its ability to weaken grasses in a meadow to allow wildflower blooms to, well, bloom!
We’ve had a lot of questions this past summer and autumn about adding yellow rattle to existing meadows and introducing it into new ones to allow wildflowers to flourish. We believe there are some scenarios in which Yellow Rattle might not be required, and there are others in which it might just be a ‘must’.Yellow Rattle works by first germinating and taking root, when it does this, its roots creep to find the nearest nutrients and water sources which happen to be the vigorous grasses that surround it. It quickly begins to draw these out from the grass and greatly suppresses their growth. Yellow Rattle is an annual, and blooms in Spring, so if you are considering adding it to your wildflower meadow now is a great time to do it. There are two scenarios in which we believe you may or may not need to introduce yellow rattle:

Yes, consider it

When sowing wildflowers, we always recommend that you try to clear the area where you plan to sow them as best you can. This means – no grass, no weeds and no other flora. For small areas, this is easy enough to achieve. With larger arable fields this is a huge task to undertake and still may be fruitless. In this instance, yellow rattle is a great addition to your meadow to weaken the grasses and allow you to introduce other wildflowers without the threat of them being overtaken. For the Yellow Rattle to germinate and get to work, the area needs to be scarified to expose some soil. It is no use scattering seed without doing this, as you will get less than pleasing results as the seeds struggle to become embedded in the soil and thus germinate.

No, not necessary

Yellow Rattle works well in existing meadows or in large areas that are mainly grass where complete removal of grasses and weeds would be difficult. If you are sowing a wildflower meadow from scratch, however, you may not need Yellow Rattle. Once you have cleared the area where you wish to sow, you can sow a grass and wildflower seed mix that, when sown at once, will eradicate the issue of grasses or weeds taking over.  The majority of our wildflower mixes contain arable  grasses alongside wildflower seed. When sown at the same time, the grass will shoot up first to create a nursery for the wildflowers. This stops weeds from taking over and allows the wildflowers to take root. In the beginning, wildflowers appear as low-lying plants and greenery (pictured below below) but come spring, will also shoot up above the grass and bloom. As they are established around the same time, there is no need to introduce anything else to your meadow. You can also see from the below photo that the grass and wildflowers are now growing uniformly, leaving little to no room for weeds.

In short, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration before sowing Yellow Rattle:

  • The size of the area
  • If you are planning to sow it into an existing meadow or from scratch