Autumn is such a lovely time to be outside, especially in the garden. The light is softer, there is a slight chill in the air and the ground is still warm from the summer sunshine;
these make perfect conditions for sowing wildflower seeds!
It’s often presumed that the best (and perhaps only) time to sow wildflower seeds is in the spring. It’s easy to understand why… Nature is fizzing with activity and raring to get going after the long winter sleep. Human beings are the same and we’re more inclined to get outdoors in warm sunny months ahead. You don’t have to wait until spring to scatter seed balls however. Autumn is the perfect time to get to work on your own wild flower patch.
The advantages autumn scattering
The soil is still warm and the extra moisture in the air can aid germination. What’s more some seeds (poppies) require a cold period to break dormancy, so an autumn sowing will have them raring to go in the following spring.
Easy as A, B, Seedball
- Choose a sunny site.
- Prep soil by removing any large perennial weeds, such as nettles and thistles, (as these will outcompete wildflower seedlings), and rake over to form a fine tilth.
- Scatter Seedballs and water.
- Be sure to check out the FAQs page for more advice on preparing your patch and scattering Seedballs.
When is it too late to scatter Seedballs?
Gardeners’ autumn lasts until the first frost is due. This depends an awful lot on where you are in the country. If you are as far north as Scotland, your sowing window is a lot smaller than if you are on the Isle Of Wight. Judge the weather yourself, if there’s still a little warmth in the air, and the nights haven’t become icy you’re still good to scatter.
Less to do!
Autumn scattering usually means less watering to break down the clay and release the seeds in the Seedball. As the weather becomes more changeable and rainfall increases it would be unusual for you to have to water the ground where your Seedballs are scattered.
Seedballs are already a low maintenance way to garden, autumn makes them even more so.
What about fallen leaves?
So you’ve decided where you’re going to start your wildflower patch only to discover that the ground is now covered in fallen leaves. As they break down leaves release nutrients into the soil. Wildflowers prefer in poor soil as a general rule, so these should be gathered up before scattering, and any that fall afterwards gathered up before they get chance to decay.
Move the leaves to the back of a border or make leaf piles for insects to shelter in elsewhere. Or collect them into a bag, and let them break down naturally the resulting leaf mould makes a fabulous mulch for areas of the garden that need it, such as the veggie patch.
What to do with your wildflowers when they’ve finished flowering
Wildflowers can be broadly divided into three different kinds of plants. Annuals like poppy, which set seed within one growing year and then die. Biennials like Foxglove, flower in their second year. Perennials which go dormant during winter and then send up fresh new growth every spring. You can cut back when they finish flowering, but by leaving the stems to collapse and decay naturally, you create valuable habitats for insects to overwinter. Seeds will naturally drop across your patch, creating food for birds as well as free new plants the following year. Never cut back on frosty days.