Is there anything more beautiful than the sight of a meadow filled with wildflowers?
The delicate yet robust blooms of different heights and colors sway in the wind and team with wildlife of all shapes and sizes. A wildflower yard is satisfyingly heartwarming and will bring peace to your soul.
In recent years, perfectly kept lawns with minimal and sparsely placed blooms have become less appealing.
With global efforts to boost biodiversity and insect numbers, understanding the importance of an unkempt garden has brought new appeal – more bees, more butterflies, more birds, and everything in between.
If introducing a wildflower patch to your yard appeals to you, you know you’re doing the right thing for nature, no matter how big or small. Here are 8 things to know before planting a wildflower garden.
1. Clear The Ground
The first thing you will need to do for a wildflower garden is to identify the patch you’d like to fill.
You might be thinking of filling some containers, a small patch of your yard, or an entire field. Whichever suits you, the first thing is to clear whatever’s already there.
Turf can be cut away and used elsewhere, which will leave you with a clear patch to rotivate and loosen the soil before sowing seeds.
If you have an unruly weed patch that you’d like to transform, the job will be a little more challenging but still worth it.
You can clear the weeds by digging them out, although this can be back-breaking, especially on an extensive area. Another option is to think ahead and use a weed membrane to starve the patch of light, causing them to die back.
It can take up to 3 months for a membrane to work, but make sure you sow your seeds soon after removing the cover; otherwise, weeds will undoubtedly make their back.
2. Check Your PH
Whether you’re a fruit or veg or flower grower, knowing the PH of your soil is a great idea.
Wildflowers are no exception to needing the perfect conditions to thrive, so if you scatter an unsuitable seed mix, you won’t see the results you’d like.
There is plenty of incredible wildflower option for any type of soil. Wherever you purchase your wildflower seeds, check the packaging and instructions.
Don’t forget, if you’re desperate to display a wildflower mix that isn’t suited to your natural soil, you can always create a pot using the compatible soil and plant that in the ground, giving the illusion that they’re naturally growing in your yard.
3. Avoid Fertilizer
The simple fact here is that wildflowers just don’t need much nutrition and prefer poorer conditions, so once you have cleared your patch, don’t be tempted to use fertilizer.
Wildflowers might not need extra nutrition, but that doesn’t mean they don’t dislike it. It won’t harm your flowers; however, grass and weeds like it more.
By fertilizing, you’re inviting weeds and grass to grow more substantially than your flowers and make their chances of survival much less.
4. Sow In Fall
Sowing depends on the wildflower mix you have and the climate you are in, but generally speaking, the best time to sow your wildflower seeds is during September and October, which will give you an early display of flowers in the spring.
Another great time to sow is between March and May, which will give you a fantastic summer display of color at the height of the season.
5. Introduce Yellow Rattle
Yellow Rattle or Rhinanthus minor is a wildflower with tall stems and bright yellow bell-like flowers. It generally flowers around June in a vibrant display of color.
Yellow Rattle hasn’t always been a welcome flower; in years gone by, when farmers saw it growing, they knew it was a sign of poor soil. Today, however, Yellow Rattle is actively used to help soil regenerate.
The thing about Yellow Rattle is that it is one of the only wildflower species that actively decreases and overpowers grass in an area.
It does this by seeking the grasses roots and feeding from them, which will cause the grass to die back, leaving excellent gaps for wildflowers to thrive.
The time of year you plant Yellow Rattle is essential for maximum effect. Sowing in September allows the long cooling period it needs, ready to germinate and begin growing and working its magic first thing in the spring.
6. Start The Flowers Off In Pots
Once you have sowed your wildflower seeds and begin to see tiny shoots peeping through the ground, you still need to be watchful and help the little fellows along.
You’ll need to remove any stray weeds immediately before their roots take hold and negatively affect your newly established flowers.
There is one problem, though, distinguishing between a new wildflower and a weed is incredibly difficult, and the last thing you want is to pull up your flowers by mistake and, even worse, leave the unwanted weeds in their place!
An option for overcoming this is first to grow seeds in a pot until you can fully identify them before transferring them to prepared ground.
Moving wildflowers is fine, but you may need to slightly pull them apart before putting them back in the bed.
7. Consider Your Options
You can buy wildflower seeds in different ways. You can pick up a packet from almost any general store.
You can also purchase bee bombs which look like pellets, but they are packed full of seeds. These offer the chance to avoid preparing the land and suggest throwing them where you’d like them to grow.
Lastly, you can pick up wildflower mats from garden centers with a wildflower seed mix set into a biodegradable sheet. These you place on the ground, then water, wait, and watch.
The key to growing a wildflower garden is persistence and resilience; it can take years to create an environment close to the pictures you see on seed packets. But it is achievable if you’re willing and determined.
Weeding and identifying gaps, filling gaps, and buying more seeds are all usual, but the payoff will be so worth it when you have a colorful lawn with insects and wildlife visiting you every day.