What are Wildflower Seed Mixes
Wildflower seed mixes fall into two categories. These are Annuals and Perennials.
Annuals are species that you sow in the Spring or the Autumn and will flower the next summer. To come back the following year the seeds would need to shed and the ground be cultivated or a new seed bed prepared. Annuals are quick to grow, they cope with more fertile soils and are generally very colourful.
Perennials are sown in the autumn or the spring. They take up to 18 months from sowing to flowering. You leave them to grow out during the summer. Enjoy them during the summer and cut them down in the autumn. The plants will grow back again the following year. Perennials are generally sown with grass seed. Grass is a backdrop. Perennials do best on poorer soil. Poorer soil means that nothing grows quickly which means that the wildflowers which are slow to grow can compete.
If in terms of Annual wildflower seed mixes there are now generally two types on the market.
Such as Corn Poppy, Cornflower, Corn Marigold etc.
You can buy these individually or in a mixture. They can be sown in the autumn or the spring and should be sown at 2 g to the square metre. The ground should be cleared of competition, the seed broadcast on top and then rolled in. When sowing in the spring ideally aim to sow before the second or third week in April. Native annuals take between 10 to 12 weeks from sowing to flowering at the quickest. Planting later than this in the spring will reduce the flowering season over the summer.
Such as Cosmos, California Poppy etc.
You can buy these as individual species or in complex colourful mixes. These are increasingly popular as they are very quick to grow. They provide a mixture that is very colourful and has a long flowering season over the summer. The preparation should be similar to the native annuals. We would suggest a slightly higher seed rate of 3 g to the square metre. Sowing to flowering can be as quick as 8 to 10 weeks.
To try and get either of these annuals to return the following year. You would need to cut the area down at the end of the flowering season. Leave what you've cut on the ground for a few days. The seed may then shed, then remove the dead material, scarify the ground and finally roll. This way you will have created a new seed bed.
These are supplied as complex mixes of native perennial species. You would should choose a mix that matches the soil conditions or the site. They include species such as Buttercup, Campion, Self Heal etc.
They are slow to establish, but once they are established they will create an attractive and diverse meadow and that flower throughout the summer. Perennial Wildflower seed mixes will be beneficial to wildlife such as butterflies and bees. These mixes are generally sown as a mixture of grass and wildflowers creating a meadow affect with the grass as the backdrop.
The seed can be planted in the autumn or the spring. The ground should be cleared and the grass and wildflower seed mixture broadcast at 4 g to the square metre. The ground should be rolled afterwards. The aim is to push the seed into the ground rather than bury it too deep.
Patience is needed with these mixtures as they take some time to fully develop. Once they have though the pleasure is in seeing them come back year after year, benefiting wildlife and giving you an interesting and beautiful area in your garden.
Annuals & Perennials
In some cases people will sow a grass & perennial wildflower seed mix at 4 g to the square metre and mix with it a native Cornfield annual mix at 1 g. This way the annuals will flower in the first year and then the perennial meadow should come to the fore from the second year onward.
There is no right or wrong way in determining which type of wildflower seed mix you choose. What is important is that you understand the difference between the types of species and that you manage them in a way that gets the maximum benefit from them.
If you need any more information on wildflower seed mixes then contact Tim Evans at
[email protected] or ring Freephone 0800 0854399