Wildflower Meadows – How to Plant Them

Wildflower meadows are permanent areas of land where wildflowers grow, and can be used as an alternative to lawns of grass. As it is early autumn, it is a great time to sow the seeds for a wildflower meadow, so that it can bloom beautifully through spring right up to the end of next summer. Wildflower meadows can be planted in early autumn or late spring.

Reasons to Plant A Wildflower Meadow

Wildflower meadows are a classic feature of the British countryside. Not only have they been the source of inspiration for many artists and writers throughout history, but there has been renewed interest in them as of late – in July, physiotherapist Peter Thain became famous for planting a wildflower garden in his front lawn. 

However, wildflower meadows are endangered, as they are being replaced by farmland or crop fields. This is a threat to species of wildlife which depend on them: bumblebees, brown hares, barn owls, field mice, and many more animals all need these flowers to survive. 

Besides encouraging more wildlife into your garden, a wildflower meadow is naturally beautiful, and will bring an array of colour to your home.

Ground for Wildflower Meadows

You don’t need a lot of space for a wildflower meadow! Any sunny patch of lawn will work. 

Wildflower meadows need a nutrient-poor soil, so they will not have to compete with grass. To prepare the ground, you can do these things:

  • If you have a bare patch of ground, you can put down a wildflower turf. This will naturally be low in nutrients and can be unrolled and laid like regular turf.
  • If you have nutrient-rich/fertile soil, remove the top layer of the soil. This may require a service or specialist unless you have a small area and can remove it yourself.
  • Make sure that perennial weeds like nettles, dock, dandelions, and thistles are removed before you sow any seeds. 
  • Avoid putting down fertiliser, which will encourage grass lawn growth.

Flower Seed Types 

As wildflower seed mixes carry a wide range of species, it is important to pick a British-grown selection if you can so you do not introduce invasive or foreign species. You should also ask your landowner’s permission before you sow seeds, and not sow them in the wider countryside or in an environmentally sensitive area. 

You can also make a wildflower mix yourself, using traditional British species. Here are some of the nation’s favourite perennial wildflowers, which Fosseway recommends:

  • Oxeye daisies
  • Common poppy (this is favoured by autumn sowing)
  • Sorrel
  • Cowslip
  • Clover (white and red)
  • Bugle
  • Yarrow
  • Meadow buttercup
  • Ragged robin
  • Primrose
  • Wild marjoram

Sowing Your Meadow

Before you sow anything, fork over your soil and rake it evenly. Once you have your mix and your turf ready, you can begin to sow! 

Even large areas can be sown by hand quite easily, and your ratio should be at around 1g per square metre. If your mix is a wildflower and grass seed mix, sow it at about 5g per square metre. We recommend you mix the seed with dry silver sand, so that it will be easier to handle and throw – the ratio is about 3-5 parts sand to one of seed.

Once your mix is sown, rake it in lightly (or simply walk over it) and water thoroughly. You can also protect the seeds with a netting if you have bird pests.

‘Together We Can Grow’

We hope this has given you the inspiration you needed to create a wildflower meadow! Whether you have an expanse of land or a small patch of ground, you can follow these steps to a beautiful and wildlife-friendly flower display that will evolve year upon year.

For more information, see rhs.org.uk.

Photos via RHS.org.uk or in the public domain