How to sow your wildflower seed mix
What time of year should I sow my wildflower seed mix?
This depends on the species that are included in the mix. Most mixes can be sown during spring (March and April), while some can also be sown during autumn (mid-August to early October). We always include these details with the specific seed mix you've bought.
How much ground will my seed mix cover?
This is also information we'll include with the seeds you buy. In the case of our individual packets, they contain enough mix to cover at least one square metre of earth.
What sort of soil does wildflower mix grow well in?
Most British wildflowers grow successfully in a range of different soils (sandy, clay-based, loam soils and so on). Some are also capable of doing well in soils that are quite low in nutrients.
If your soil is poor, however, it's worth digging in extra organic matter if possible - for example garden compost or well-rotted manure.
Can I sow my wildflower seed mix in a pot or other container?
It's definitely possible - we've seen wildflowers do very well in containers. However, the larger the container the better, to give your wildflowers space to thrive. Half-barrels, Belfast sinks, old baths and even broken rowing boats are all ideal candidates!
If you're sowing your wildflower seeds in pots or other containers, it's fine to use shop-bought compost. Just make sure you choose one that is peat-free (this guide, from Plantlife, explains how commercial extraction of peat for compost can damage valuable wildlife habitats).
Any container you use should have plenty of drainage holes in the base, to prevent your seeds from becoming waterlogged and rotting.
Should I choose a sunny or shady spot to sow the seeds?
Unless we state otherwise in our sowing instructions, choose a sunny location. It helps if it's also at least partially sheltered from high winds (taller wildflowers like poppies and cornflowers are prone to getting 'flattened' by gales).
Can I sow my wildflower seed mix on a slope?
Ideally not - try to find a spot that is as flat and even as possible. Wildflower mix is made up of lighter and heavier seed species, and on sloping ground, the lighter seeds tend to get washed downhill when watered. So you end up with different species popping up in different locations!
OK, I've chosen my spot. Do I need to remove grass or other plants before sowing my wildflower seed mix?
Yes, you do need to remove existing grass and other plants. These would compete with your wildflower seedlings for light, nutrients and space, and could prevent them growing at all.
We avoid chemical herbicides wherever possible, and would encourage others to do the same. Instead, pull out any existing vegetation (loosening with a garden fork first if necessary).
The soil will still have a 'seed bank' within it - that's seeds remaining in the soil unseen. If you have time, wait a couple of weeks to see what else germinates, and weed these new plants out as well, before sowing your wildflower seeds.
How else do I need to prepare the soil?
If you haven't already dug the soil over when removing other plants, you need to do so now. This will help you spot any perennial roots (like dandelion) that still need to be removed. It will also loosen the soil, helping it break down from big lumps into smaller, finer 'crumbs'.
Once you've dug over your soil, go over it with a rake to make the surface more even and break down any large remaining lumps.
Also remove any stones that are bigger than large marbles.
What about bulbs?
We sometimes get asked whether dormant flower bulbs, already in the soil, can be left. Ideally, these bulbs should be relocated. However, we know that's not always possible! So when deciding, it might be helpful to consider the following:
- Can you adequately loosen and prepare the soil for your wildflower seeds with the bulbs still in the ground? If there's plenty of space, you might be able to work around them.
- Are the bulbs likely to flower at the same time as your wildflowers? If so, one might crowd the other out, so in this case we would recommend relocating your bulbs.
How do I make sure my seeds are evenly sown?
It can be tricky to hand-sow wildflower seed mix evenly. Despite best efforts, it often ends up being mainly cast into just one or two spots.
To make things easier, try mixing your wildflower seeds with completely dry sand (damp sand won't work!).
Then take handfuls of this seed-sand mix and sprinkle it over the area you'd like to cover. This will make it easier to achieve even coverage, and also to see where you've already sown seeds.
Should I bury my wildflower seeds, or cover them with soil/compost?
Most wildflower seeds don't like to be planted too deep. Once you've scattered your seeds, just rake lightly over the surface of the ground again, so the seeds fall into nooks and crannies in the soil.
If your seeds have been sown in a pot, you can use a handheld fork for this.
Then, 'tread' the seed into the ground by walking all over it (or if you happen to have a garden roller, you can use this instead!).
If the seeds are in a pot, press the soil down with your fingers.
Once I've sown my wildflower seeds, should I water them straight away?
Yes - we recommend you water your seeds as soon as you've sown them, and then keep the soil moist for at least the next three weeks. This is the most important germination period for most wildflower seeds.
To avoid washing seeds off the sowing site, you can even water the prepared ground just *before* you sow the seeds, rather than afterwards. The seeds will then pick up moisture from the wet soil.
Always use a watering can with a sprinkler head attached, or a hose with a fine spray setting, to achieve even, gentle water coverage.
Once your wildflowers have developed from seedlings into young plants, they can survive a little longer without water. However, they will still need to be watered if the soil is very dry.
Plants in containers can dry out very quickly, so keep a particularly close eye on these.