Wildflower Planting Tips This Autumn
As the days begin to shorten and the leaves start to fall wildflowers may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but autumn is an ideal time to make sure you get to enjoy flowers next year.
1. Wildflower Bulbs
There's a great choice of wildflower bulbs to choose from. Easy to grow and maintain you can plant right now right through to November. You'll get some cheery spring colours well as providing pollinating insects with some much-needed early pollen and nectar - not always plentiful in early spring.
Choose Snowdrops, Crocus, Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), Grape Hyacinth (Muacari), Bluebells (please make sure to buy the native English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and Wild Daffodils. And for something a little special, why not try the beautiful Snakeshead Fritillary?
Bulbs can be planted in lawns, borders and beds, tubs, pots and window boxes, so you really can enjoy them anywhere.
2. Wildflower Seeds
Although spring is the obvious time to think about flower seeds, sowing wild flower seeds in autumn can often prove more successful. Seeds can often germinate quicker, birds tend to eat less of the sown seed as other food is more widely available, and plants sown in autumn tend to flower earlier. Cornfield annuals such as corn poppies and cornflowers are perfect to sow this way.
Sowing wildflower seeds is a relatively simple process
- Dig over the soil with a fork or spade and break up any large clumps. Remove weeds so the seeds don't have any competition, as well as any large stones.
- Rake the soil so it's fine and crumbly.
- If you can, leave the prepared soil for a couple of weeks so that any dormant weed or grass seeds that germinate can easily be removed without disturbing your seeds.
- Scatter the wild flower seeds over the soil by hand - a little at a time for an even spread.
To make spreading fine seed easier, mix the seeds with a small amount of dry sand.
- Lightly rake the soil again so that the seeds are covered with a very thin layer (1mm) of fine crumbly soil. Don't worry about trying to cover all the seeds though - they depend on light.
- Gently water using a watering can with a rose.
- Mark the area with plant labels so that you know what and when you sowed.
3. Wildfower Plants
Of course the quickest way of all to establish wildflower plants is to buy potted plants, which can be planted any time of year provided the ground isn't frozen.
Although more expensive than sowing, the benefits are immediate and you can often keep costs down by choosing very small plants known as plug plants that can either be planted directly into the ground, or potted at home and grown on until larger.
There are nurseries across the UK specialising in native wildflower seeds, bulbs and plants.
A few are listed below:
British Flora: https://www.britishflora.co.uk/wild-flowers/
Habitat Aid: https://www.habitataid.co.uk