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Whilst wildflowers have a longer blooming period than most garden flora, there does come a time when their blooms will begin to die off and it is time to think about mowing your meadow.
Practising good wildflower meadow management ensures you get the best results from your wildflowers. You will need to mow your meadow in autumn when your wildflowers have gone to seed head or have set seed – this means the blooms have turned brown and crisp and may begin to fall off, and if you take a peek inside the seed head, you should be able to see hundreds of tiny seeds. For example, the below shows a photo of a poppy that has gone to seed head.
Most wildflower meadows sown in spring will begin to go to seed head from August onwards – as soon as you recognise that your wildflowers are beginning to die off, you should aim to mow your meadow. Using your mower on the highest setting or a strimmer, cut the meadow down to 7cm in height. Leave the clippings for several days to encourage the seeds from your wildflowers into the soil to return next year. You can help them by rolling or firming the seed heads into the soil by foot. After a few days, remove the dead flower casings so as not to add fertility to the area. Remove the clippings if you enjoyed your meadow but want to try new flora next year. This is one of the key steps in wildflower meadow management!
With such an abundance of seeds available in the seed heads of your wildflowers, you may wish to save them for another time or share them with friends or family. Use a container to collect your favourite wildflowers and shake out the seed heads to gather the seeds. If you want to ensure you know which is which, use separate containers and label them. Store your seeds in a cool, dry place in envelopes or boxes, but do not store them in plastic, as this will encourage condensation and cause them to become unusable.
I’ve just sown my wildflower seed
Wildflower seeds that have been sown in autumn will not require mowing until early March / April. By then, your wildflower meadow should have sufficient material to mow and a sward reaching heights of 10cm. When your meadow reaches this stage, you can mow it down to 7cm in preparation for blooming.
Mowing for biodiversity
This guide recommends the easiest maintenance routine for homeowners wishing to apply some wildflower meadow management who have sown their wildflower seeds in spring. Cutting more frequently can increase the wildflower diversity in your meadow and encourage more pollinators – but cutting does need to occur at the correct time for this to work. If you want to learn more about mowing your wildflower meadow for biodiversity, you can read our guide on it here.