Plant wildflowers

Not only are wildflowers pretty to look at, they are extremely important for our native wildlife, providing hunting and feeding grounds for many insects, mammals and birds.

In fact, they have evolved together and many species are inter-dependent for their survival. Here’s some advice to create and maintain flowering lawns and pots.

When to plant

Wildflower meadows fall into two broad camps: those that flower in summer (July–August) and those that flower in spring (February–May). Unfortunately, you can’t have both in the same area because they require different mowing regimes. They can however, be grown in different parts of the garden or in different pots. In addition, you can plant an annual or perennial mix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that wildflowers can also be grown in flower borders if you do not have a lawn. They can also be sown in hanging baskets or window boxes.

If you’re planting in the spring, try:

Dropwort Grape hyacinth Red campion
Oxlip Foxglove Primrose
Cowslip Ribwort plantain Black medick
Hoary plantain Selfheal Wild daffodil
Bluebell Sweet cicily Meadow buttercup
Ox-eye-daisy Cow parsley  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or if you’re planting in the summer, give these a go:

Autumn hawbit Feverfew Meadowset
Teasel Betany Field scabious
Musk mallow Toadflax Foxglove
Bird’s-foot trefoil Tufted vetch Bladder campion
Goatsbeard Pignut Scentless mayweed Ox-eye-daisy
White campion Wild carrot Common agrimony
Greater kanpweed Purple loosestrife Red clover
Red campion Perforate St John's Wort Ribwort plantain
Yarrow Harebell Yellow rattle
Common mallow Hoary plantain Devil's-bit scabious
Vioer's bugloss Kidney vetch Salad burnet
Lady's bedstraw Nettle leaved bell flower Dropwort
Dryers greenweed Selfheal Lesser knapweed
Meadow cranesbill Small scabious  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to grow

If you have a patch of lawn in an open, sunny site, you can transform it into a wildflower meadow. Apart from providing cover and food for wildlife, it requires far less maintenance than a traditional lawn and can be planted with a wide range of wildflowers to provide interest from spring until the end of summer.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to do

Prepare your lawn! Lawns that are naturally low in fertility are ideal, but if yours isn't, there are ways that you can bring the nutrient levels down and prevent vigorous grasses from taking over. Stop using fertilisers and weed killers, and mow the lawn regularly, keeping the grass very short.

Remove all clippings to prevent nutrients being returned to the soil. You may need to keep this up for two years until it's ready to be planted with wildflowers.

How to plant

The wildflowers you use largely depend on your soil conditions, personal preference, and if you have a colour scheme in mind. Wildflowers will establish best if planted in the autumn as small plug plants.

For a natural look, arrange these in groups across the lawn and take out a core of soil using a trowel. Make holes about 15cm (6in) deep and 5cm (1.9in) in diameter. Drop a handful of compost into the bottom of the hole to help plugs establish quickly. Water and spread leaf mould around each plug to help it grow without competition.

Aftercare

Cut the grass at the end of summer after most of the wildflowers have had a chance to set seed. If you only have a small meadow, use a strimmer (make sure to wear protective clothing, such as goggles, ear protectors, stout boots and gloves) or a scythe.

Larger areas can be cut with a power scythe, aiming to leave grass no taller than about 1cm (1/3 in) and make sure to cut again in spring.

After removing grass, rake up all debris to prevent nutrients from being returned to the soil.
 

Have you pledged to plant wildflowers yet?

Download our 'how to' guide below.

Downloads

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gardening_bilingual.pdf3.69 MB