How to sow wildflower seed in autumn

How to sow wildflower seed in autumn
How to sow wildflower seed in autumn
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 that by sowing your wildflower seed in autumn, you can expect to see blooms in early spring to kickstart your 2021 summer garden.

Before sowing your wildflower seed, there are a few things you should consider.

Site selection

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 seed on a bare bed with low nutrient soils will provide the best results and cut out competition from any other plants. If the area is small you can remove grass, weeds / flora by digging it out of the area and leaving the area to cultivate for several weeks, removing any new weeds if they pop up. If the area is medium sized you may wish to hire a turf cutter or rotovator to help remove all existing grass / weeds / flora in the area, again allowing it to cultivate for a number of weeks and removing any new weeds if they appear before sowing. If your chosen area is a field already populated by grass and you do not have the ability / machinery to remove it, we would recommend introducing Yellow Rattle. You can read more about that here. You can use a weedkiller to help remove weeds, but ensure to read the instructions and adhere to the waiting time before sowing seed.

A field of grass

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Wildflower choice

Once you have selected your site and have a bare seed bed prepped for sowing, it’s time to pick your wildflower mix. We have wildflower mixes that contain grass and we have ones 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.

For a medium to large sized area, we recommend opting for a mix that contains grass. If you plan to sow a border or bed, we would 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 to be normal and relatively free from shade, you can sow our Bees & PollinatorsFlowering 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.

However, if you have clay soils, sandy soils, or the area is heavily shaded, you may benefit from one of our more specialised mixes.

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 very 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 top soil, 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. Once your wildflower seed begins to you can sit back and relax and wait for your bountiful blooms to appear in spring!