Autumn is an excellent time to sow wildflower seed for a number of reasons such as less threat of birds gobbling your seed up, more availability of rainwater to keep your seedbed moist thanks to our UK weather and last but not least – an earlier sowing results in an earlier showing.
This means you can expect to see blooms in early spring by sowing your wildflower seed in autumn to kickstart your summer garden.
Before sowing your wildflower seed, you should consider a few things:
Site selection for sowing wildflower seed in autumn
Wherever you plan to sow your wildflower seed, it’s important to keep in mind that all existing grass, weeds/flora will need to be removed from that area – so it needs to be feasible for you to do this.
Sowing wildflower seeds on a bare bed with low-nutrient soils will provide the best results and eliminate competition from other plants. If the area is small, you can remove grass, weeds/flora by digging them out and leaving the site to cultivate for several weeks, removing any new weeds if they pop up.
With a medium-sized area, you may hire a turf cutter or rotovator to help remove all existing grass/weeds/flora. You can then allow it to cultivate for several weeks and remove any new weeds if they appear before sowing.
However, suppose your chosen area is a field already populated by grass and you do not have the ability/machinery to remove it. In that case, we recommend introducing Yellow Rattle, and you can read more about that here.
Alternatively, you can use a weedkiller to help remove weeds but ensure to read the instructions and adhere to the waiting time before sowing seed.
Once you have selected your site and have a bare seed bed prepped for sowing, it’s time to pick your wildflower mix. And we have wildflower mixes that contain grass and those that do not. The main reason for including grass with the wildflower seed is to keep weeds at bay and to create a year-on-year habitat for wildlife when the wildflowers are not in bloom.
We recommend selecting a mix containing grass for a medium to a large area. If you plan to sow a border or bed, we recommend a 100% wildflowers mix such as our Annuals or Meadow Magic for uninterrupted colour. Our Annuals mix is 100% cornfield annuals, and our Meadow Magic mix is a bend of cornfield annuals and perennials.
If you have a medium to large-sized area where you consider your soil type normal and relatively free from the shade, you can sow our Bees & Pollinators, Flowering Meadow, or SIMPLY: Wildflowers mix. All three of these mixes contain annuals, perennials and grasses, but the percentage of different species will vary between each mix.
As previously said, if you want to turn a large field into a meadow over time, you should consider introducing Yellow Rattle.
Step by step
The latest you should plan to sow wildflower seed is typically mid-October before frost begins to kick in; if your mix contains grass you should consult a two-week forecast before sowing to ensure that temperatures are 8-10 degrees and above consistently for the grass in your mix to germinate.
Here’s how you should sow your wildflower seed in autumn:
Remove any existing grass, plants or flora from the area where you plan to sow your wildflower seed. Failure to do this will produce poor results
Further remove the top 5-10cm to reduce soil fertility
Allow the area to cultivate for several weeks, and remove any weeds that may pop in the area during this time
Do not be tempted to add topsoil, compost or fertiliser to the area - wildflowers prefer low nutrient conditions
After the cultivation period ensure to remove stones or any other debris and rake the area to create a fine, friable and level seedbed
Scatter the seed at a rate of 5g per m2
Rake the seed so that it is in amongst the soil
Water the just-sown wildflower seed well
If sowing in drought conditions, water as required to keep the area moist in the first 6 weeks after sowing
Keep the area where you have sown your wildflowers leaf free whilst they germinate. Then, once your wildflower seed begins to grow, you can sit back and relax and wait for your bountiful blooms to appear in spring!