Forum home Plants

wildflower planting advice for woodland

mel82mel82 Posts: 1


I have a small wooded area in my garden and I want to plant some native wildflowers here.  I was thinking Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell), wood anemone, ransoms, lesser celandines or primroses.  I was wondering which wildflowers are best to plant this time of year and which flowers grow best together?

thank you 


  • I would be very wary about introducing bluebells, ransoms or lesser celandines to a garden. They are all very invasive and could quickly take over not only the wood, but you whole garden.

    Personally I like wood anemones, foxgloves can do well with a little sun, primroses the same.

  • Bluebells and Ransomes look lovely and often grow together, along with red campion, in the Derbyshire Dales.  All can be invasive, but they are evenly matched for thuggishness. In a garden setting, the first two might be unsuitable. Bluebells would overpower the smaller wildflowers, (bluebell woods are close to a monoculture), and ransomes, as well as being invasive would contribute a strong, garlicky smell (though you would have a good supply of a chef's favourite!). I have all three in my garden, but it is large and wild and the woodland part is well away from the sitting areasimage

    Red campion will self-seed everywhere, but is very pretty and easier to control than the other two. Celandines can also be invasive, but are small and disappear soon after flowering so are only a potential problem for a short time. They are best at the woodland edge where they get some sun . Primroses and wood anemones are lovely and will spread if they are happy, but it is the sort of invasion nobody complains aboutimage

    You could add Cardamine pratensis (Cuckoo flower) if you have moist soil in places and also Alliaria petiolata (Jack by the hedge), as both are host plants for the Orange Tip butterfly. Snowdrops are not strictly native but are naturalised in many places.The little Narcissus lobularis is the one that Wordsworth wrote about. Helleborus foetidus and H. viridis are both native too.

    There are some lovely native ferns and for slightly later flowers, Geranium  phaeum  and G. sylvestris.  and there are some pretty  wild campanulas that will grow in a woodland setting

  • I too am hoping to do the same thing with a newly cleared dingly dell in my garden. I have a nasty slope at one side which I will plant with bluebells in the hope that they will spread down rather than up and so I'm hoping primroses will be ok along the top. 

    There are harts tongue fern and other "frothy" ferns (getting technical now image) already there but, stupidly, I hadn't even thought of foxgloves. They grow wild round here too! Duh! I have a Helleborus foetidus that I could move there as well. (Thanks Buttercup...ace ideas as always).

    What does anyone think of allowing ivy to take over as ground cover on the bank? I can't think of anything else as it's very steep and until last week covered in brambles.

  • PP - Rather than ivy which will completely swamp any and everything else , you could try Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and red campion .

    The woodruff runs like mad, has pretty flowers and leaves and dies back a bit in winter, but can be out-competed and is easier to control than ivy. Won't climb the trees either, which might be an advantage!

    The campion , if you start it at the top,  will cover the bank in a year or so and is almost evergreen. If you break off the long flowering stems when they are looking weary after the first flush, it will usually go on flowering even into winter. 

    My foxgloves prefer a bit of sun, so the woodland edge rather than right under the trees. They grow wild here too and the seeds lie dormant until the soil is disturbed and then they come up in their hundreds! There are loads of hefty plants that appeared between my beans last year that I have to move, if I can ever get out into the garden. It has been alternating snow, hard frost and heavy rain here since the end of November. We are currently white over yet again, blowing a gale and more snow forecast... !

    Last edited: 13 February 2018 09:27:36

  • I like the look of that woodruff. It sounds excellent and not too much of a thug. Having spent several snowy days hacking ivy from round the bases of trees, it definitely sounds preferable. I have foxglove seedlings in the gravel over near the house so they can go. I knew I hadn't weeded them out for some reason. image Not laziness, defo not laziness. image It's all coming together nicely in my head if only the rain would stop between the blizzards!

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,498

    Mel82 what type of soil do you have. Excellent suggestions above. Bluebells, ransoms, wood anemone and primrose all do well on clay, not sure about the others. You could also consider winter aconites.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • snowdrops in woodland look lovely, but why stick to natives if this is part of your garden?

    you can get very decorative ferns, Hosta's in woodlands are nice and also Trilliums are nice as well, if a little expensive, it's also perfect for planting Acer's if the shade isn't too dark or if you have glades.

    make sure you get native bluebells not Spanish ones as native ones spread far, far slower.

  • FireFire Posts: 18,923

    Woodruff also comes in a lovely blue which flowers later in the year - from June. I would also go with native snowdrops and anemones.

  • Violets: viola odorata and viola riviniana.  Quite early flowering.  Also nettle leaved bellflower: Campanula Trachelium
  • I'm so glad I saw this thread. Newly acquired some woodland (clay soil in general) and hoping for ideas for shrubs. After lifting the crown on mature trees and clearing hanging broken branches the woodland is bare and uninteresting. The plants need to be rabbit proof or I will be putting a lot of caging around the bases of the shrubs. 
    Im thinking camellias, rhododendrons (not invasive ones), pretty yew 
    The other big issue in the woodland is the wood ants. They are big red ones and always angry, attacking every passing foot :(
    Is there a way to co-exist with them and enjoy the nature?
Sign In or Register to comment.