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Soil for Wild flowers

Hello everyone

 First post on here, I did search for an answer but found nothing specific.

We have a very small orchard, 8m x 7m which has been completely taken over by dock, bindweed, nettles etc for a number of years.

It's currently covered by a thick layer of wet cardboard and the next plan is to cover the cardboard with a medium suitable for shade tolerant wild flowers.

What "mix" of soil should I use please? Thanks in advance.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,286

    Have you eradicated the weeds?  They'll grow through cardboard.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,877

    Hello,welcome to the forum

    I would chose the plants to suit the soil you've got.

    What have you got?

  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,314

    Why have you covered it in cardboard?  If I were you I would mow, mow, and mow for at least one season which will kill the bindweed and nettles, maybe not the docks but they will eventually go, and allow the grass to recover.  Then next year or in the autumn sow some wildflower seeds and plant plug plants on the bare patches.....just my thoughts.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,877

    Agree there, definitely wouldn't cover. Not good for soil health.

  • If you've already got bindweed, nettles and docks growing I think the soil is already suitable for wildflowers already as they like a slightly acid soil.

    This is what I did in a garden that had been abandoned for tens of years and was so overgrown you couldn't even open the garden gate never mind get into it.

    I strimmed, hacked out as far to the ground as possible everything I didn't want and dug up what few plants I found that I did want to keep and moved them temporarily elsewhere.

    I burned the lot.

    Then when in the spring things started to grow I sprayed everything with roundup and a second and third time over four months.

    I then dug it over several times and did a number of Ph tests which averaged out at 4.5Ph. Not surprised by this I then decided I wanted native british wildflowers in a number of selected areas and limed everywhere else to get the Ph level up.

    I planted a number of different british wildflower species in the areas chosen (Not Limed) and 2 years on they are doing very well. I'm still finding the occasional bindweed, dock and bramble popping up but I jump on them with a fork as I find them and dig them out straight away. It'll be a good few years before I get everything I'm sure.

    I would clear the site, keep on top of regrowth every few days and plan on sewing wildflower seed in the autumn this year or early spring next year.

    For plug plants or seed mixes of british wildflowers I can very much recommend:

    If you just cover existing weeds as you've described they will fight their way back up in no time and you will of wasted your money buying in fresh topsoil, wildflower seed and plants.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,877

    There are wildflowers for all soil types. Not all wildflowers like acid soil. Some do, some don't. Same for wet area or dry area, sun or shade. Wherever you go you'll find that something will growimage

  • WateryWatery Posts: 388

    True wildflowers like poor soil.  If you've got nettles, you've got quite rich soil.  Part of the reason there are so many nettles on verges is that councils allow the cut grass to remain and add nitrogen, encouraging nettle growth.  Nothing wrong with covering soil.. the worms will be happy even with cardboard... and I like the idea of covering it better than Round-Up (which hurts wildlife and domestic pets and yourself).  If you want cornfield annuals then you want rich soil. You may need to go with those for a few years before the soil gets to the proper state for true perennial wildflowers.    The wildflower site listed above gives good information as does this one:  and also    Of course, nettles and bindweed are wildflowers too!   (Bindweed is pretty--- but not in my garden!  And I don't want nettles either.)

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,877

    True wild flowers like the soil that suits them. Rich, poor, wet, dry. There's no one soil requirement for what man has decided to call wild flowersimage

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,145

    I don't think it's as easy as it sounds, it's not....just chuck some seeds down. Monty Don done this and after a while it wasn't a success, I think he got rid of it. 

    I agree with Nut, certain plants for certain soils, that's why you see only certain plants growing in one place, what's good for one is not good for another.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,877

    When you think about it, although lots of our garden plants have been improved and hybridised, they're all developed from wild plants from somewhere. eg agapanthus are weeds where they come from because they're in the soil that suits them.

    Therefore if all wild plants need the same soil, then all garden plants must need the same soil. But they don't do theyimage

    I grow a lot of wild plants but some are never going to grow for me. My soil is too poorimage

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