Most of us who garden have at one time or another dreamed of the charm and whimsy of a wildflower garden. Come on, admit it… you too have longed for a garden that seems to be one with Mother Nature, and sings the virtue floral fantasies that appears to have no maintenance needs whatsoever. On board so far? Whether you just wanted to scatter seeds along a back fence, or plant an entire pasture for pastoral beauty, here is a quick primer on how to grow a wildflower garden! (And yes, it does take some work!)
- Why grow a wildflower garden?
- Cons to Growing Wildflowers?
- How to get started growing a wildflower garden
- What you will need to follow this tutorial?
- Step by step instructions
- A Wildflower Garden In Your Backyard
- Creating Wildflower Gardens
- How to Start a Wildflower Garden in Your Backyard
- How to sow wildflower seeds
- Wildflower meadows
- Where to grow wildflowers
- Sowing wildflower seeds
- Wildflower meadow maintenance
- Managing weeds and grass growth
- How to create a mini wild flower meadow
- Wild flower meadows at the Olympics
- Can a wild flower meadow work in my garden?
- How to create your own mini wild flower meadow
- Why Plant A Wildflower Garden
- When and Where to Start Your Wildflower Garden
- Choose Your Wildflower Mix
- Prepare Your Site
- Planting Your Wildflowers
- Maintaining Your Wildflower Garden
- 12 garden furniture sets perfect for outdoor entertaining
- Top Tips for Planting Wildflowers
- Free Online Gardening Class
- Planting wildflowers 101
- Wildflower garden ideas to consider
Why grow a wildflower garden?
Ok, this first one is easy. They are the epitome of a slice of nature right in your backyard. A gorgeous slice.
They attract birds and butterflies, including hummingbirds.
While not maintenance free, they are easier then a formal garden.
Since most are native or adapted species, they don’t have many problems with disease and pests. Photo via ‘HGTV‘.
Cons to Growing Wildflowers?
When flowers start to fade, they can look a little scraggly.
You have to mow them down for the winter, or you have a stand of scraggly brown stalks to look at!
How to get started growing a wildflower garden
Ok, for me, the pros outweigh the cons, but just for a small slice of my yard. Others may want to turn their entire backyard into a meadow! Or somewhere in between… Whichever direction you choose, here’s how to get started and how to keep your wildflower garden gorgeous!
- First, site selection. Wildflowers are flowers that have stood the test of time, growing and thriving in nature without our help. What does nature provide? Sun. They need at least 6-8 hours of sun every day, so choose your spot wisely.
- Contrary to popular belief, scattering seeds over existing soil and walking away only to come back months later to find a gorgeous meadow, is a myth. You must break up the soil and remove weeds or existing plants to make it ready for young roots. No need to add fertilizer or compost when you grow a wildflower garden though, wildflowers are accustomed to poor soil.
Photo above by Steve Bates.
- To keep your wildflower garden looking neat and helping it blend in with your yard, add a hardscape feature such as a mowing strip or brick edging. Arbors and benches also help integrate wildflowers and make them look like they were planted with intent.
- Choose your flowers. Most wildflower mixes will have varieties that thrive in different parts of the country, therefore, some of them will fail where you live. I find it’s more effective to choose 3-5 flower seed varieties and mix your own. Pick varieties that are widely adapted, or ones that are native to your area, you can ask at your local nursery. Great choices for beginners in most parts of the country are sunflowers, cosmos, bachelor buttons, alyssum and zinnias. You can grow perennial wildflowers from seed as well, but starting with annuals is a better bet when getting started. Photo via ‘HGTV‘.
- You can plant a wildflower garden in early spring after frost, or in late fall. After all, that’s how nature plants them! The flowers bloom all summer, then the seeds dropped in later fall overwinter, and then begin to grow with spring warmth and water. If you choose to plant in late fall, make sure the temperatures are low enough to keep the seeds from germinating until spring.
- Mix your seed with sand to help make it easier to broadcast, then here is the fun part you always dreamed about… scatter away! Lightly rake the seeds into the soil, then water gently for a few weeks until the plants get well established.
- Here is the part you don’t want to hear… Weeds and wildflowers go together. You can hand pick weeds from a small plot when they are young, or choose to let them go in a larger space. If you can keep them under control for the first part of the wildflower garden life cycle, chances are they can take over the weeds. How do you know what is a wildflower and what is a weed? Here is where mixing your own seed comes in handy. Plant a couple of seeds of each variety in a well marked 4 inch pot, so that you have one of each to variety to help you figure out what is what!
- Depending on your natural rain patterns, they may not need regular irrigation after the first 3-4 weeks.
- In the late fall after they have stopped blooming, mow them down, and till them under if you wish. Many will come back again the next spring through nature’s plantings, but we recommend re-planting as well to make sure you have a full meadow the next year.
That’s it! Start in spring or start in fall, make a small plot or a replace some lawn, or plant a whole field. But definitely learn how to grow a wildflower garden! Then jump on over to our posts on Fabulous Flower Beds and How to Grow English Roses! Don’t forget to Pin for later!
Image Credits: HGTV/DK Simple Steps to Success, HGTV/DK How To Grow Practically Everything
Are you looking for the right procedure and the tips concerned with how to build a raised wildflower garden in a small backyard?
No garden or area is small to cultivate a raised wildflower garden. Even if you have the tiniest of the area to try your hands on, this one will definitely work.
What you will need to follow this tutorial?
As earlier said, acres of land aren’t required to create a wildflower meadow; even a small patch of lawn exposed to the open sun can be ideal for such a creation. Also, the maintenance of such a miniature wildflower garden is pretty much easier as compared to any traditional lawn. In order to create such an inexpensive and low-maintenance meadow, there are certain requisites to follow.
- The first and foremost need for such a beautiful meadow is to have a nutrient-rich growing area, well exposed to the sunlight. This will help in a proper growth of the flowers and keep them nutrients enriched.
- Moving ahead, you need to have the selective set of wildflower seeds or turfs to be planted on the meadow, you are planning to cultivate.
- Next, you need a hoe, a tiller that righteously helps in the tilling job and a gardening jug. Remember, you need to water the sowed seeds in a periodic manner for a perfect growth.
Step by step instructions
Now, let’s move further to the step by step instructions guide to cultivate your wildflower garden.
Step 1: Pick the appropriate area
To begin with, you need to pick the right patch or area that has an ample supply of both sunlight and nutrients. A nutrient rich soil is considered to be more favorable in nurturing your wildflowers in the garden. However, the size entirely depends on you and your capacity to maintain them.
Step 2: Choose the Wildflowers
Following further, you need to pick the wildflowers you wish to grow in your backyard. However, it is suggested to pick the native wildflowers, in case you plan for a local garden. This is mainly because the survival chances of such plants are higher in their local surroundings. You can visit your local nursery or purchase wildflower Seedles online.
Step 3: Prepare your Land
This one is amongst the major step to follow in order to set the foundation for your garden. Prepare the land and soil such that it offers the right platform for sowing the seeds. Start with clearing the extra weeds and grass using a hoe. Use a garden tiller to till the soil to about 1 inch deep. Add some potting soil for adding extra nourishment and nutrient to the tilled soil and mix well with the hoe.
Step 4: Planting the seeds of the wildflower
- If you wish to create your garden on a low nutrient soil, laying the wildflower turfs will help.
- For a 50-50% grass and wildflowers setup, including the turfs of bugle, ox-eye daisy, yellow rattle, yarrow and birds- foot trefoil can work.
- Sowing the wildflowers during the late autumn or early spring is recommended. Sow them at a traditional rate of 4 gm/square meter.
- Scatter the seeds on the soil in an even direction and press them gently using a garden roller or even by a gentle walk. Don’t forget to net the area to protect the seeds from the birds.
Step 5: Watering your seeds and grown plants
Make sure to water them well, but also be careful that you do not drown them. In such case, neither your seed, nor the grown plant will stay for long.
Growing your own adequately fostered backyard wild flower garden isn’t difficult with these simple steps to follow. Make sure you follow these steps religiously to be a proud owner of an amazingly setup wildflower garden that suits even the smallest part of your backyard. So, when are you creating your own garden?
Guest Post by Ann Sanders of A Green Hand
A Wildflower Garden In Your Backyard
There are few things in this world, horticultural or otherwise, that can compare with the simple beauty of a wildflower garden. Picture a gently sloping mountain meadow filled with the delicate blossoms of yellow Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), and lacey baby’s breath (Gypsophila elegans). Butterflies dance across the meadow in front of you as you make your way through the tall grass to a small stream flowing somewhere up ahead. It’s like something out of a dream. But with minimal effort on your part, it can become a reality. Keep reading to learn more about creating a wildflower garden in your backyard.
Creating Wildflower Gardens
In contrast to the formal English garden or even a traditional vegetable garden, a wildflower garden is truly inexpensive, easy to plant, and simple to maintain. You don’t have to spend endless hours weeding your wildflower garden because wildflower gardens are meant to be…well…wild!
You also don’t need to spend hours watering or fertilizing your wildflower garden because the plants you will choose for your garden will be native species to your particular region of the world. This means that they’re most likely already in love with the soil that is natural to your garden, and they don’t expect to get much more rain than you would get on average each year. Although for most of the wildflowers in your garden, extra water and fertilizer won’t hurt the plants; in most cases, it will keep them blooming longer.
How to Start a Wildflower Garden in Your Backyard
In order to get started with your wildflower garden, the most straightforward option is to buy a large bag of native mixed wildflower seed to spread in your bed or meadow. Simply loosen the soil with a hoe or shovel and remove most of the weeds and grass from the planting site. Spread your seed over the prepared area and rake it in gently. Of course, you will want to follow any other directions on your seed package. Then, water in the seed well; leaving the sprinkler on for 30 minutes should do the trick.
Continue watering the seeded area morning and night to ensure that it doesn’t dry out completely. Be sure to use a gentle sprinkler with a fine shower so that your precious wildflower seeds don’t get jostled around while they’re trying to sprout. Once the seeds sprout and your wildflower “toddlers” are on their way to being 3 or 4 inches tall, you may choose to water them only if they become very dry and look wilted.
Seriously though, don’t worry about weeds. Wildflowers are tough; they’re meant to do battle with nature’s harshest enemies. Plus, weeds such as grasses and other native species help bring fullness to your wildflower meadow. Of course, if the weeds are offensive to you or threaten to overtake the flowers, a light weeding really can’t do any harm.
In addition to native wildflowers, like purple lupine and white yarrow, you may want to consider other native species for your backyard, too. Ferns, shrubs, berry plants (like chokecherry) and other natives would look absolutely divine gracing a different area of your yard. Native ferns planted in the shade of a large group of birch trees would do well, or perhaps a new planting of wild ginger around your evergreen trees is more appropriate to your location. The bounty of native wildflowers and plants is practically endless.
Now, just lay back in your wildflower meadow, close your eyes and relax. Imagine yourself enjoying this wildflower garden for years to come. Oh, didn’t I mention? Most wildflowers freely re-seed themselves year after year so you don’t have to! Just a smidgen of watering and weeding each year, if absolutely necessary, is all your wildflower masterpiece will ever need.
How to sow wildflower seeds
Attracting insects and animals, wildflowers are key in turning your garden into a little haven
Image: / Marek Mierzejewski
Wildflowers are important in supporting our native insects and animals. Not only do they encourage high biodiversity, they also make a pretty and colourful addition to the garden.
Enjoy a walk through your own private wildflower meadow this summer.
Image: / Moskwa
The most attractive way to grow wildflowers is by planting a meadow, although they can also be grouped formally in beds and borders to great effect. A quintessential part of the British countryside, wildflower meadows are an important part of our environment and an excellent, wildlife-friendly alternative to lawns and borders.
There are two types of meadow you can grow at home – annual meadows and perennial meadows. Both can easily be grown from mixed wildflower seeds or by using wildflower plug plants. Wildflower seeds are the most cost effective option, particularly for annual meadows or for planting up large areas.
Where to grow wildflowers
Hardy in nature, wildflowers grow well in beds, borders or meadows
Image: / Simon Bratt
Amazing for creating a bright display, annual wildflowers fill your garden with colour
Image: / Taigi
Annual wildflowers bloom in their first season, giving a bright show of colour from early summer before dying and setting seed in late summer or autumn. Annual wildflower seeds such as cornflowers, poppies and corn cockle look very effective scattered in beds and borders to create a colourful display.
Annual meadows such as those seen at the Olympic Park in London aren’t strictly wildflower meadows. They are often a mixture of native and non-native wildflower seeds, such as Thompson & Morgan’s Honey Bee Flower Mixed. This creates a very colourful display with big impact and, although it’s not a true meadow, is still beneficial to pollinating insects. Unlike perennial meadows, annual wildflowers need rich fertile soil to give the best display.
Ox-eyed daisies are quintessentially British
Image: / Almgren
Perennial meadows more truly represent those found naturally in the British countryside. Perennial wildflower seeds consist of grasses and flowers, and thrive best on poor soils where the grass won’t outcompete the wild flowers. These meadows are most successful in large areas and take several years to establish properly and flower. Most perennial wildflower mixtures contain a high level of grass seed and are generally unsuitable for small garden use, often turning into a weedy-looking mess after a few years!
Perennial wildflowers such as ox-eye daisies, ragged robin and red campion can be found in open areas or woodland. Woodland wildflowers such as primroses, wood anemones and bluebells can be grown from seed or purchased as plants and are excellent for shady gardens.
Sowing wildflower seeds
With plenty of sun, newly-sown wildflower seeds are sure to start germinating
Image: / Air Images
Sow wild flower garden seeds in March and April, or September if your soil is light and well drained. They prefer an open position in full sun. For annual displays, autumn sowing favours wild red poppy seeds and cornflowers, whereas spring sowing tends to favour corncockles and corn marigolds.
Prepare the ground by clearing away all existing plants and grass. It’s particularly important to remove vigorous perennial weeds such as stinging nettles, docks and couch grass. In wildlife areas this is best done by hand. Where hand weeding is impractical, a systemic glyphosate-based weed killer may be used, although care should be taken to apply glyphosate on still, windless days. Avoid the use of glyphosate in areas that contain ponds and waterways.
Dig the soil over and firm it well before raking to create a level seed bed. Don’t incorporate any fertilisers or manure as this encourages grass growth which crowds out the wild flowers.
ItÂ’s best to allow up to 6 weeks for the soil to settle. This also allows any weed seeds to germinate, which can then be removed with a hoe or weed killer.
If your soil is very fertile and you’d like to grow a perennial wild flower meadow you can try stripping away the top 5-10cm (2-4″) of soil to reduce fertility.
1 gram of pure wild flower garden seeds is enough for 1 square metre of soil. Mixed wild flower seeds with grass should be sown at 5g per square metre. Try mixing the seed with silver sand to help you see where you’ve been and make your distribution more even.
Rake the area lightly after sowing and cover with netting to protect from birds and cats. Ensure the soil is kept moist during hot, dry periods for the best germination.
Wildflower meadow maintenance
Make sure you water annual wildflowers until they get established
Image: / SofiaWorld
Annual wildflowers can be watered while they establish, to encourage good growth. Perennial wildflower meadows should be left to grow naturally without any additional water or fertiliser. Fertile soil favours grass growth which competes with the flowers.
Meadows will need cutting back or mowing each year. Traditionally they would have been maintained through grazing or hay-making. You can mow paths through wildflower meadows to allow access without trampling the plants. Make the path winding rather than straight for a more relaxed feel. This also encourages you to take your time walking along them!
To get the best from the wildflowers, weed maintenance is key
Image: / Victoras
Annual wildflower meadows can be cut back in late summer or autumn, once flowering has finished and the plants begin to brown and die back. Cornfield annuals produce abundant seeds which can be left on the soil to grow for another display next year. They are plants of cultivated ground so the soil will need to be prepared each spring for the meadow to persist each year.
Plants can be left intact over winter to self seed or if preferred, simply shake the plants over the soil when cutting back in late summer.
In spring, clear away all weeds and any self-sown wild flower plants. This can be done by hand or with a systemic glyphosate-based weed killer.
Don’t worry about removing wild flower seedlings as there will be lots of seed left in the soil for re-establishment.
Lightly break up the soil and rake over thoroughly to encourage seeds to germinate. If desired, more wildflower seed can be added at this point to correct an imbalance or bulk up the amount of plants.
Mowing and strimming perennial flowers can encourage growth
Image: / Wolfness72
Perennial wildflower meadows need annual maintenance to encourage the more desirable plants to grow, and reduce the vigour of rampant plants. Most perennial wild flower seed mixtures contain summer-flowering plants but some mixtures may be designed for spring colour; including plants such as primroses, fritillary, cowslips, ladyÂs smock, bugle and self-heal. Some mixtures may contain both spring and summer wild flowers and should be treated as a summer meadow.
Your lawn mower may struggle with cutting long grass, so for smaller areas use a strimmer or cut by hand with shears.
A new meadow should be mown quite regularly in its first year. Aim to make cuts every 8 weeks to a height of 5cm (2″). This encourages the young plants to form good root systems and controls any annual weeds which crop up.
Cut spring-flowering meadows in July and for the remainder of the summer, to control grass growth and allow the spring flowering plants to thrive. Aim to cut to 5-7.5cm (2-3″) each time.
Cut summer-flowering meadows in August or September to give late wild flowers a chance to set seed. Make cuts to 5-7.5cm (2-3″). You can also cut summer-flowering meadows in early spring to control grass growth, although this will prevent any spring-flowering plants from blooming.
Leave the cuttings where they are for a few days to allow wildflower seeds to drop before collecting and composting the remains.
If there is strong re-growth in the autumn, make another cut in late autumn to weaken the grasses.
Try leaving some areas uncut around the edge to provide shelter for over-wintering insects.
Managing weeds and grass growth
Keep on top of your weeds this summer
Image: / Effective stock photos
You may find weeds a problem, particularly in the early stages of growth. Some persistent weeds such as thistles and dock are best rooted out by hand or spot treated with a glyphosate-based weed killer. Perennial flower meadows can sometimes become dominated by grass. This should be controlled by mowing but you can also try introducing an annual wildflower called Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). This plant is semi-parasitic to grasses, weakening their growth, and these wildflower seeds are sown in early autumn.
For further tips on making your garden more wildlife friendly take a look at our article on ‘How to encourage wildlife in your garden’. For a list of other wildlife-friendly plants take a look at our ‘Plants for wildlife’ guide.
How to create a mini wild flower meadow
Wild flower meadows at the Olympics
When Britain hosted the Olympics in 2012, I heard almost as many people talking about the colourful meadows at the Olympic site as about Sir Chris Hoy and Mo Farah. The perennial wildflower meadows in Stratford were the work of James Hitchmough, professor of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield. He designed 25 acres on the steep banks of the Lea Valley, using British native perennial wildflowers – long-season stalwarts such as spiny restharrow, betony, common toadflax and field scabious.
The aim was to produce a meadow that would be as colourful as the very best examples you could find in nature. Everything was timed carefully so that it would all bloom at once, in a great exhilarating whoosh over the period of the Games. It went down magnificently.
Can a wild flower meadow work in my garden?
This style of “gardening” makes complete sense on an urban landscape scale. Gone are the days when local councils had the money to create expansive gardens with bought-in plants. It is much cheaper to grow from seed, and better still if areas can be direct-sown. Also gone are the public funds to keep up labour-intensive shrub and herbaceous beds, typical of our older parks, and the willingness to use gallons of water to keep them alive. That’s why native wildflower “meadows” and prairie gardens using exotic species are the way forward for urban landscapes.
This approach also makes sense on a smaller scale (think large garden or small field), and I expect many of us will be trying similar schemes in the next few years.If you’ve been inspired, learn how to recreate this look in your own garden with native British wild flowers …
How to create your own mini wild flower meadow
Make sure the seed mix you choose has the right ones relevant to your soil type.
If you’re combining flowers with grasses, or flowering up an area of existing grass, you need to reduce the strength of the grasses. It’s key to introduce Yellow Rattle. This is a hemiparasite, which fixes its roots onto the root system of an adjacent grass and extracts the water and minerals it needs. This weakens the grass and hence the competition, allowing more delicate and often more colourful and interesting wild flowers to thrive.
The Sarah Raven Wildflower Mix contains a great mix of native British wild flowers, and includes Yellow Rattle, so provides a great start to your meadow.
Clear the ground.
If on a small scale, dig out the coarse-leaved grasses such as Cock’s-foot, Couch Grass and Perennial Rye Grass. If on a large scale, consider spraying these off before you start. They out-compete the more delicate-growing wild flowers. Also make sure the area is as free of coarse-leaved grasses and robust-quick growing weeds such as thistles and docks before you sow.
Rotavate and then rake over to ensure a fine-ish tilth, and water if necessary.
Sowing wild flower seeds
Direct sow your seed (at a seed density recommended by the seed supplier).
Most of these plants are perennials so will not flower well for a couple of years. I was impatient for flowers in my own mini meadow, so grew some wild flowers in trays in the autumn, pricking them out during the winter, to plant out as plugs when the soil had warmed up enough in April.
Planting wild flower seedlings
Wild flower seedlings can be planted in enriched soil or an established grass area. Before planting the seedlings, mow the grass to less than 5cm and remove competition from any other long leaved grasses and flowers. Or remove the grass in a circle, using mechanical or chemical methods.
The planting hole should be the same shape and size as the seedling, i.e. an inverted pyramid. The planting hole can be quickly created with a suitably shaped dibber, but ensure that the surrounding soil is loose to allow the roots to spread easily. Keep watered until established if conditions are dry, and protect from slugs.
Cut or strim the grass in August, or leave it until September if you want species such as Agrimony and Betony to get a hold.
Leave the hay where it falls for a week, turning it over a couple of times as it dries, to help the wild flower seeds drop back down into the soil.
Rake all the hay away so as not to increase fertility and use it for compost.
Adding more varieties of wild flowers
Gather seed of the wild flowers you see and like in your local areas of grassland as well as lots of Yellow Rattle. You’ll need permission from the land-owner. Gather the heads, or just knock the seeds into a brown envelope or paper bag. Leave them somewhere cool but airy to dry a little more before sowing.
Scarify a few patches through the area and scatter the seed. Yellow Rattle needs to be sown in the autumn.
You can still sow your wild flower seed now in late autumn. Some perennials need the winter cold to spark them to germinate. If you sow them now, those species will join the other perennials as well as spring-germinating annuals and biennials, so everything should come up well.
Sow extra favourites – that you want lots of – into seed trays now for pricking out and planting out as soon as the soil warms up a little next spring.
For more Olympic wild flower inspiration, find out how to sow your own exotic meadow …
Browse our range of meadow seed mixes, or create your own mini meadow with our wild flower seeds.
If you have a patch of soil, or have cleared a space to sow your seeds in, follow our instructions below.
If you’re interested in sowing wildflower seeds in containers pop on over here
We’re explaing how to sow a wildflower space using Grow Wild seeds, but you can use any UK native wildflower seed mix – read our advice on where to get wildflower seeds. Check how much space your seeds will cover and bear this in mind when .
You will need:
- Garden fork or spade
- Garden rake or fork
- Watering can or jug
- Wildflower seed mix
- Something to label your site with so you don’t forget where you’ve sown your seeds!
Follow these steps:
- Choose a fine Spring or Autumn day when the soil is neither too wet nor too dry.
- Dig over the soil with a fork or spade and break up or put aside large clumps. Remove weeds so the wildflowers don’t have any competition, and any large stones.
- Rake the soil so it’s fine and crumbly – lumpy soil may bury seeds; if it’s too hard, roots will be unable to penetrate the ground.
- Ideally, leave your prepared soil for about two weeks so any dormant weeds or grasses that come to life can be removed before you sow your seeds.
- Scatter your wildflower seeds over the soil by hand – a little at a time for an even spread.
Top tip: to make spreading easier, mix seeds with a small amount of dry play sand or flour so you can see where you’ve sown them.
- Rake the soil again – gently – to just cover the seeds with a very thin layer (1mm) of fine crumbly soil.
Seeds need sunlight, so be careful not to bury them or they won’t grow.
- Very gently, water the whole area using a watering can, taking care not to wash your seeds away.
- Label the area with your plant markers (you could make your own!) and don’t forget to include the sowing date.
Watch Hannah Grows sowing a wildflower patch in her garden…
After sowing your seeds
If you’re sowing in Spring, it’s critical to water wildflowers in the ground regularly after sowing and while the seedlings are establishing in the first six weeks. You should aim to water your freshly sown wildflower space twice a week and more frequently in hot weather. Your seeds should germinate within a couple of weeks, depending on the weather.
If you’re sowing in Autumn, you only need to water your seeds once and then leave them over winter, when the seeds will be dormant. Come back to water them once the weather gets warmer and seedlings start showing.
When it is dry weather, make sure the soil remains moist and water. Seedlings can be killed if the soil dries out completely.
Watch our video to find out more about how to water your wildflower seeds…
There’s something timeless and carefree about a wildflower garden. Wildflower gardens are full of beautiful annuals and perennials, a celebration of natural beauty. It can be intimidating to think about creating one in your landscape but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, planting a stunning wildflower garden doesn’t have to be hard at all. Sometimes it’s as simple as sprinkle, water and watch the wildflowers grow. There are easy wildflower seed kits, from such companies as Encap, that include all the essentials needed – mulch, seed and fertilizer. Or, if you just need the wildflower seeds, check out Olds Seeds Wildflower Mixes.
Why Plant A Wildflower Garden
Wildflower gardens are a great way to decrease the area of grass you need to mow, while creating a colorful garden full of plants that have natural bug repellents and are disease resistant, attract pollinators and prosper without much intervention. These gardens are relatively low-maintenance and provide a variety of color flowers in your landscape, as well as cut flowers for your house or patio.
When and Where to Start Your Wildflower Garden
Select an area that is similar to where these plants would grow in the wild. In the Northeast region of the United States, it’s best to spread your seed mix on a prepared garden site from mid-Spring (after the danger of frost has passed) to the end of June. You can expect 3 to 4 years of blooms, additional seeds will need to be added after this time to help compete with weeds. Be sure to plant in an area that receives at least a half a day of full sun, six hours or more.
Choose Your Wildflower Mix
When growing a natural garden, it’s best to choose plants that are local to your area if possible. There are many wildflower mixes to choose from so you can grow the type of wildflower garden that works best for you. Choose from mixes such as daisy mix, perennial mix, pollinator mix, bouquet mix, butterfly and hummingbird mix, shady mix, zinnia mix and even more.
Prepare Your Site
To prepare your site, cut and remove existing vegetation. Use a hard rake or till approximately 3” depth. Remove debris. Do not use topsoil which may contain weeds. Wildflowers do not need fertile soil. Do not till deeply as that may cause weed seeds to germinate and compete with the flowers.
Planting Your Wildflowers
Lightly scuff the soil surface immediately before sowing with a rake or a hoe. Sprinkle the seed mix evenly in 1 direction. Then plant them in the other direction to ensure that you have adequate coverage in your space. Press the seeds into the soil with a garden roller or by walking on them. They don’t need to be planted too deep as they may not develop. Water your freshly tilled garden to allow seeds to germinate.
After two weeks, hoe the newly grown weeds or spray with glyphosate, which has no residual effects on the soil. Keep the soil moist for a couple of weeks to allow the seeds of all varieties to germinate. Once the seed has good roots, most of the wildflowers are drought tolerant. Seedlings emerge in 2-3 weeks and the first annual blooms start in 6-10 weeks.
Maintaining Your Wildflower Garden
Reinforce flowers and suppress weeds by overseeding with the original mix or the annual mix after a season. Harvest mature seed by hand in the late summer and fall. Scuff the soil with your shoe, sprinkle mature seed, scuff to cover and step on for firm soil contact. Control weeds as they appear. If by mid-summer you have a huge crop of weeds, don’t pull the weeds. Instead, mow the site to keep weeds from setting seed. Set a push mower as high as possible to allow perennials to thrive. Mowing will sacrifice the annuals, but they can be sown again in the fall or spring.
Now all you have to do is sit back and delight in the simple pleasure of your wildflower garden.
Patuxent Nursery proudly carries the full line of Encap Wildflower Seed Mixes including Daisy Mix, Perennial Mix, Pollinator Bird & Butterfly Mix, Pollinator Honey Bee Mix, Pollinator Mix, Wildflower Aromatic Mix, Wildflower Bouquet Mix, Wildflower Butterfly & Hummingbird Mix, Wildflower Perennial Mix, Wildflower Shady Mix and Zinnia Mix.
We also carry Olds Seeds Wildflower Mixes including Northeast Mix, Bee Pollinator Mix, Hummingbird Garden and Songbird Garden.
Not sure what will work best for your yard? One of our knowledgeable team members will be happy to help answer your questions!
Sowing wildflower seeds to create a wildflower meadow in your garden can help to attract bees, hedgehogs, dragonflies, birds and other wildlife to your outdoor space. Not only will it become an attractive feature bursting with variety and colour, but it’ll create a lively feeding and nesting ground for insects and small animals.
Philip Mould OBE, President of Plantlife, believes there is a powerful shift with wildflowers becoming more prominent in residential gardens. ‘Over the last half century, we have treated our wild grassland like our seas – intensive farming has eaten up 98 per cent of our traditional meadowland, he explains. ‘Environmental consciousness and poetic attachment to what we once had in abundance will now increasingly influence our approach to the garden and the wild over the next half century.
‘Wildflowers are often capricious so if you have the space, create varieties of habitats within your garden – shade, dampness and wild. You can also, within reason, harvest the seed of our more common wildflowers from the wild.’
More so now than ever, gardeners are being urged to transform parts of their garden into wildflower meadows to help save the bees. The UK has seen a vast decline in the number of bees, and with 75 per cent of all food crops requiring pollination, the rapidly declining bee population has been cause for serious concern.
‘The role of bees in our ecosystem is very important, and with more and more people paving over their gardens, their population decline will only get worse,’ explain the team at Garden Buildings Direct. ‘Many typical garden plants are not beneficial to bees in any way so today we are urging Brits to do their bit by turning their garden – or at least part of it – into a bee haven.’
Wildflower meadows aren’t as tricky to grow in your own outdoor space as they may first seem, so here the experts are on hand to reveal the best tips to plant and maintain wildflower growth in your garden.
1. Prepare your lawn
Wildflowers need low fertile land to grow; this is to ensure long grasses don’t take over the garden. If you do not have a naturally low fertile lawn, it’s really important that you don’t use weed killers and to mow regularly before planting. Tip: Planting mustard plants can lower the fertility of the soil and this is recommended in the first year of establishing your meadow.
2. Picking the right time and place
When it comes to planting your wildflowers, it’s best to do these in the spring or early autumn, but this can vary so check each species of flower. If you plant seeds in the autumn, it will tend to lie dormant until the next spring. The location of your meadow is likewise incredibly important. Opt for a sunny and flat space for the best results.
Certain plants attract more nectar than others, for example cornflowers and oxeye daisies. Yellow rattle is also great to add into your seed mix as it encourages species diversity and stops the growth of vigorous grasses growing.
4. Sowing the seeds
Once you have prepared your soil, it’s time to sow the seeds. The best way to do this is to dig plugs around six inches in length and two inches wide. Ensure you mix your seeds together with the plugs so that you can have a variety of vibrant colours across your garden. Keep the seeds well-watered, and come spring, your wildflower meadow will be blooming!
5. Maintaining your meadow
One of the most common mistakes we make is mowing the lawn too early. Flowers need to be fully matured to drop all their seeds ready for next year, so it’s advised to mow in August, and then once again before the first frost. Ensure you clear the clippings after every mow to keep nutrient levels in the soil low. Once your meadow has been established for a few years, it will be very low maintenance.
zhengshun tangGetty Images
If you don’t have the time to grow your own, there are some easy alternatives you can get your hands on instead. Meadow lawns, with 50 per cent grasses and 50 per cent wildflowers sown in them, can be purchased ready to roll out in your garden. They are also naturally low in nutrients and have a mixture of ox-eye daisies, bugle, yarrow, yellow rattle and birds-foot trefoil.
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REMEMBER: There are two types of wildflower meadows
Both can easily be grown from mixed wildflower seeds (the most cost effective option) or by using wildflower plug plants. Garden experts Thompson & Morgan explain…
Annual wildflowers – such as as cornflowers and poppies – bloom in their first season, giving a bright show of colour from early summer before dying and setting seed in late summer or autumn. They look very effective scattered in beds and borders to create a colourful display.
Thompson & Morgan Wildflowers ‘Cornfield Annuals Mix’ thompson & morgan thompson-morgan.com £8.99
Perennial meadows – consisting of grasses and flowers – is a more genuine representation of wildflower meadows found naturally in the British countryside. This type of meadow thrives best on poor soils where the grass won’t outcompete the wildflowers, but it takes several years to establish properly and flower.
Thompson & Morgan Honey Bee Flower Mixed thompson & morgan thompson-morgan.com £2.49
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12 garden furniture sets perfect for outdoor entertaining
Parc Saffron Yellow Metal Folding Garden Table And 4 Chairs, £180, Habitat
This square table and slatted chair set folds completely flat when not in use. Better still, it’s in this gorgeous saffron yellow colourway. (Also available in cobalt blue and dusty pink).
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House by John Lewis, Salsa Garden Chair set of two (1 shown), Orange Sunrise, £140, John Lewis & Partners
Colourful and contemporary, this striking steel and rattan constructed chair is the best way to make a style statement this summer. The salsa range also includes a 2-seater garden sofa and a garden coffee table. Shop the full Salsa range here.
Swann Resin Garden Table + 4 Chairs, £524, Maisons du Monde
A great space-saver, these 4 built-in chairs with soft cushions, slides perfectly under the glass table when not in use. The cutout design on the chair backs are super stylish too.
Richmond 6 Seater Wooden Patio Set, £350, Argos
Made from solid FSC certified wood, this versatile set comfortably seats 6 and comes with 2 benches and 2 armchairs with removable cushions.
Jakarta 6 Piece Patio Dining Set, £299, George Home at Asda
This stylish set includes 4 armchairs with polyester seat cushions, a 2.4m parasol and a 100 x 100cm table with a toughened glass top.
Ibiza Grey Bench Dining Set, £399, Dunelm
Easily seat more guests with benches, like this Ibiza outdoor furniture set which includes a rectangular dining table and 2 benches.
Set of 2 Hampstead Armchairs – Outdoor, £480, Garden Trading
Need extra seating? Guests will love to relax in this stylish armchair crafted from strips of all-weather bamboo. The Windsor style curved back and arms offer support and the deep seats allow you to recline.
Miami 6-Seat Ceramic Glass Top Garden Dining Table & Chairs Set, £499, John Lewis & Partners
Perfect for the garden or conservatory, this set includes a rectangular ceramic-effect glass table and 6 dining chairs with all-weather fabric seating.
Bréhat wooden garden table + 2 benches, £314, Maisons du Monde
This rectangular garden table with 2 pinewood benches will create a warm and authentic atmosphere in any garden space.
Marlow Aluminium Four-Seater Garden Lounge Set, £849, John Lewis & Partners
Lounge in style with this classic garden set which includes 2 armchairs, a 2-seater sofa and a low slatted coffee table.
Grigio Bistro Set by Norfolk Leisure, £189, Cuckooland
Convenient and easy to set up, this furniture set includes a folding table and 2 generous and well proportioned folding chairs.
Marden Corner Sofa Set, £2,600, Garden Trading
This modular sofa comprises 3x corner sections and 2x central sections and can be fitted in an ‘L’ shape either left or right. The set also includes an armchair, and the ottoman can be used as a chaise lounge extension, coffee table or stool.
Top Tips for Planting Wildflowers
For a simple but big statement, consider planting wildflowers. A meadow looks easy and effortless, like it just bloomed, instead of being overly designed. It’s a great way to get lots of color in your garden this summer and the fresh flower bouquets will be endless!
Follow these wildflower garden ideas and tips to achieve the ultimate impact.
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Planting wildflowers 101
- First, find a bright, sunny spot to plant your seeds, making sure the area you choose is weed-free.
- Mix sand with your seeds to ensure good drainage and barely cover the seeds with soil. Keep the area moist but not soggy for germination.
- It’s important to weed your wildflower patch in the beginning so that the small seedlings don’t get strangled by strong weeds. You can use burlap or black garden cover or much to keep weeds at bay but the best way is just to keep an eye out and weed a few times a week.
- Early spring is the best time to plant your wildflower meadow for summer color.
Wildflower garden ideas to consider
The beautiful meadow above was designed by English garden designer, Lara Smith , of Manor Farm Cottage Flowers in Wells, England. The combination includes cosmos in purple and white, Queen Anne’s lace, nigella and a number of grasses. The meadow was planted at the entrance to the client’s farm for maximum impact and maximum sunshine for healthy blooms.
Lara says it’s important to keep an eye on weeds, water and choose a sunny spot for your blooms. Consider your local climate to choose flowers that are native and easy to grow.
In France and Italy, you’ll often see fields of gorgeous red poppies in the late spring and early summer. For late spring color and a bit of French inspiration, plant red poppies for a riot of red. The Shirley poppy is a popular and reliable variety to grow. They look gorgeous paired with Queen Anne’s lace or cornflowers.
Remember when you plant your meadow to consider different sizes of flowers. Your meadow should include blooms of different scale, texture, and color.
This blue and yellow wildflower patch is gorgeous for late spring. It includes honey daisy and hepatica. Consider tiny flowers in contrasting color combinations for a sweet but stunning combination.
Consider creating a path through your meadow so you can enjoy it fully. This beautiful combination includes borage flowers, which are edible and look lovely in salads and on open-faced sandwiches.
The bouquets from your wildflower garden will be endless. Cut in the morning or evening when the flowers are most hydrated, to ensure the bouquets last as long as possible.
Consider growing flowers that are native to your area for the easiest, lowest maintenance wildflower meadow. It’s eco-friendly and a great way to celebrate the heritage and tradition of your home.
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