Wildflowers

Does anyone have any advice on growing wildflowers? I've bought some woodland wildflower seeds from Naturescape and although it looks like a really good mix (19 types, including red campion, wild garlic, self heal, even some bluebell seeds), there weren't any other instructions other than how much to sow per square metre. For instance, is it ok to sow them now and is it best to let them just fend for themselves, or should I keep an eye on them? I've sewn a few in a couple of small cells and put them in the cold frame, just out of interest to see what happens image

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  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,090

    I'd sow them outside, now, where you want them to grow. Autumn would have been better, some of them might need a cold spell to trigger germination. 

     

  • If they are native wildflowers the direct sowing is generally better and they should be adapted to the climatic conditions.  If it is a woodland mix the key is to ensure that the soil remains moist avoid getting too hot or exposed to full direct sun light.  I have done a number of seed sowings in different areas and soil types and success has been very erratic to say the least.  The trouble with these mixes is that the easy germinate species (i.e. red campion) take over at the expense of the slower germinators and those that are less dominant.  It is always exciting to see what happens and tend to leave it for a couple of seasons to see what happens before making any decision to manage an area.  I might then look at getting in some plug plants of some species which didn't germinate to add to the area.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,266

    Denno what sort of soil do you have and what is it's current condition?

    Invariably Naturescape recommend sowing their individual seed packets in trays outdoors. Usually April to September or March or October under glass.

    Direct sowing works for some but it is incredibly hit and miss with native flowers. The reason being they will be competing with the local wild plants which have already been selected as the ideal plants for that spot. 

    So many people try wildflowers, once, then give up because it is so disappointing. So I would go with your idea of starting them off in trays in the cold frame, grow them on to a good size and plant out. With luck they will thrive and self-seed if conditions suit them. Good luck with them, I love the native flowers, but I treat them no differently to any other annual flower on the whole and more people would get on with them if they were not advised to direct sow. Chances are you'll see nothing but local weeds going that route..

  • Fishy65Fishy65 Posts: 2,233

    I'd agree with that totally Gemma. Last year I direct sowed field poppies and got about zero germination. That said, I have a black lab who likes nothing better than trampling borders into hard, compacted mud. So now I'm growing from seed in trays and pots. The only direct sowing has been into tubs, cornflowers and corn marigolds.

    I've had good germination from red and white campion, ragged robin, aquilegias and moderate from field scabious. Harebells are just starting now but devils-bit scabious are just not interested. Not a single germination and now on my third attempt. Vipers bugloss nothing yet either.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,266

    I've got some Viper's Bugloss for this year Fishy, if I can coax mine to germinate I'll send you some if yours are still not showing. image

  • Fishy65Fishy65 Posts: 2,233

    That's really kind of you Gemma. Nut bless her gave me four little plants in November which are establishing nicely but I don't think you can have too many. I've direct sown some seed but maybe need to give them more time image

  • I bought three wild seed mixtures from the RSPB. One mix that favors birds, one that favors bees and one that favors pollinators. As none of these packs state exactly what flowers are in each mix I decided to mix some from each of the three packs into one single mix and direct sowed them. Some into two raised beds in full sun and some into a border on the opposite side of the garden in partial shade.

    Two weeks later there are a good amount of seedlings appearing in all locations. I'm assuming that as some are in full sun and some in shade that the two areas will show different flowers thriving.

    Last year I direct sowed some Papaver rhoeas poppy seeds in a very shallow dirt-filled drainage channel down the side of my sloping driveway late in the season and before the summer was out I had LOADS of poppies proudly waving in the breeze.

    All I've done in both cases is direct sow into top soil with no added compost or fertilizer of any kind as wildflowers are supposed to favor poor soil. Just barely covered the seeds with a couple mm of soil and made sure the it was not allowed to dry out before germination.

    I'm a newbie gardener so am in no way an expert on wildflowers. This is just what's worked for me so far.

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,915

    if you have a large area of woodland/hedgerow to cover it might be better to direct sow swathes at about 1oz per m2 rather than sow everywhere at a lower amount, the plants will then self seed into the bare areas in the year's to come, it will also look more natural.

    what I have done in the past is walk a wavy line thru a woodland every other step throwing a decent pinch of seed left and then another couple of steps and a pinch to the right

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,090

    I don't like sowing mixes in pots/trays. If you leave them too long the quicknd easy swamp the slower ones and if you get on with the pricking out there's a danger of dislodging something that's on the point of germination.

    But thinking about it more deeply that sentence could be shortened to 'I don't like mixes'.  image

    Some things do well in pots, some things don't. Some things come up in a week, some take all winter. With individual species you can choose how you sow.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,266

    I agree with that nutcutlet, never had much success with mixes of any kind. Always seems one swamps all the others, some germinate some don't.

    All I could suggest is sowing very thinly in several trays, though I find it easier to get individual seed packets. I've found growing wildflowers just as much of a challenge if not more than growing the usual favourite annuals. The process of growing them, potting them on, planting them out all adds to understanding them. image

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