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How To Look After Your Wildflowers

Wildflowers are a stunning addition to any area, be it garden, balcony, windowsill or pots, not only do they look gorgeous, they are great for wildlife too.

Spring – Sow, sow, sow
After the last frost you can sow your Seedballs in Spring (usually February to May, but the earlier the better to give them plenty of time to get established). Just pop on bare soil and keep well watered. We like to put a couple of Seedballs in pots as well as in situ just to see what loveliness comes up. If you do sow in pots make sure there are drainage holes, plants don’t like to sit in water anymore than they like to dry out completely. If you’re using compost, it’s best to use ‘seed compost’ – this has the least nutrients of the bagged composts and so is the best type to use for wildflowers, which thrive in poorer soils, peat free of course!

Summer – Grow, grow, grow
Some wildflowers like Oxeye Daisy and Ragged Robin can race ahead in the first year, with others like Birdsfoot Trefoil and Yarrow blooming later in the summer. Some may not bloom until their second year. Take the time to enjoy your wildflowers and the bees and butterflies that they will bring.

Early summer show of annual cornflowers sown in the previous autumn. the cornflowers were chopped at the end of their flowering season to reveal the perennial clover below, (see next image).
Late summer, the red clover emerges after the cornflowers have finished, providing a continuing source of nectar for bees and other lovely pollinators.

Late Summer – your Seedballs have germinated but you’re worried it’s too late in the year for them to bloom?
The wonderful thing about wildflowers is they are extremely hardy and trouble-free to look after. Perennials such as Clover and Red Campion will naturally die back to protect themselves from the cold weather but you should see signs of life emerging when the weather warms up the following year, so don’t throw away your pots!

Small white butterfly on common knapweed
Wildflowers are past looking their best at the end of summer when you can collect seeds for fresh sowing and chop down to allow for the next years growth. If you don’t mind it looking a bit messy leave overwinter to act as cover for insects and wildlife. Just remember it’s not messy it’s wild!

 

Annuals like Poppy and Cornflower finish their lifecycle in a year and will keep growing until they flower or the first frost. For plants which have finished flowering, you’ll need to collect and scatter the seed or scatter fresh seedballs. Late summer is a great time to collect seeds from your Seedball blooms.  (watch: How To Collect Seed From Forget Me Not)

Wildflowers are past looking their best at the end of summer when you can collect seeds for fresh sowing and chop down to allow for the next years growth. If you don’t mind it looking a bit messy leave overwinter to act as cover for insects and wildlife. Just remember it’s not messy it’s wild!

Autumn – Scatter, scatter, scatter
Get scattering! This is naturally a time that wildflowers would be dropping their seeds. You can scatter your Seedballs and collected seeds from August to October and simply water in.If the weather is mild, as is more often the case these days, tiny shoots may well appear at the end of summer or in the early autumn, but you don’t need to worry about them over the winter, wildflowers are naturally hardy! Annuals such as cornflowers and poppies are especially excellent to sow in the Autumn and will provide early blooms.

Autumn sown oxeye daisies have a flush of fresh green leaves in the spring.

Winter – Let it be
We love leaving some dried stems and flower heads overwinter, they look super in a frost and provide a place for insects to shelter, some tiny caterpillars, even feed on the seeds, just remember it’s not messy it’s wild. When it’s cold outside you can be planning where to plant your wildflowers for spring and whom might like some wildflower Seedballs for Christmas!

What if i’d prefer to cut back the plants in the Autumn?
Wildflowers can be cut back at the end of their season in September / October, after they have finished flowering. Cut down to about 15cm,  don’t forget to collect seeds before, if you wish. Annuals will have finished their life-cycle but perennials will look much better in their second year. Remove any debris and add to an insect hotel or compost heap if you have one.

If i’m using compost the best type of compost to use for wildflowers?
Seed compost has the least nutrients of bagged composts and so is the best type to use for wildflowers, which thrive in poorer soils, peat free of course!

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