Wildflowers play a central role in making your garden more wildlife friendly. That is because they provide an important source of nectar and pollen for our (local) pollinators!
A meadow usually consists of a mix of (ideally) native wildflowers and grasses. While the central feature of meadows are flowers, grasses are also super important as they offer shelter for insects such as bumblebees. According to the Eden Project, around 98% of British wildflower habitats have been lost since WWII and now form less than 1% of the British countryside. So, planting a wildflower meadow in your garden can support species reliant on this habitat by providing your local pollinators with a space to feed and breed.
The good thing is that you don’t need a lot of space to start growing your wildflower meadow, even a mini meadow on a small patch can help your local pollinators and contribute to green corridors. You can even plant a mini meadow in pots if you only have balcony space!
Check out this video explaining how to grow a wildflower meadow in a pot!
Grow a wildflower meadow using plugs
While the easiest way to establish a meadow is to use plugs, you can also start from seed or make your own plugs! It’s more affordable and you may even be able to use your own seeds, check out our post about seed saving here (link)!
‘Growing with Nature’ suggests: “One great way to prepare an area for growing a mini-meadow is to first mow it low and then spread cardboard over the area. Then just spread a nice thick layer (4 to 6 inches – 10.2 to 15.2 cm) of topsoil or compost over it. Do this in the fall, and then broadcast your native meadow seed mix over it. Next spring, you will have a new mini-meadow. Then, just sit back and enjoy the butterflies and other wildlife that will visit it!”
If you grow from plugs, there’s a bit more flexibility as they can be planted directly into existing meadowy/grassed areas in your garden and should flower the same season!
You can also check out the websites of plug producers, they will generally provide you with full instructions and information regarding soil type and ideal location for the plug species they offer/sell.
See this video on how to grow mini meadow from plugs
Grow a wildflower meadow using seed
If you grow from seed look for wildflower seeds that are suited to your location and soil type. Make sure the seeds are fresh as this ensures a higher germination rate. You can also sow some seeds into a plug tray to make your own plugs and plant them in any gaps of your meadow.
As native wildflower/meadow seeds tend to be really small, you might want to mix them with some sand or other filler which makes it easier to spread them evenly. Typically, you won’t need a lot of seed to start your meadow. You can spread the seed by criss-crossing across your chosen spot in parallel strips while scattering a bit of seed every step. Then repeat the same thing but turn 90 degrees so you end up with a sort of grid.
Don’t add any fertiliser of manure to your new meadow, this will only encourage the grasses to grow much faster than the wildflowers and then outcompete or swamp them.
Once the meadow is established, Chairman and Chief horticultural advisor for the Gardening In association, Dan Ori suggests mowing it only once a year and then leaving the cutting for 5 days to give insects time to leave the stems before removing them.This is important “because you want poor soil”, he says.
You only need to water your meadow when the weather gets really hot. However, if you’re growing wildflowers in a pot you may have to water a bit more as they dry out faster. So just keep an eye on them and try not to let the soil dry out completely. But don’t worry if the flowers appear to wilt, they will usually recover quickly after you’ve watered them again!
Check out this fantastic guide by Dan Ori all about growing a wildflower meadow! It also has a list of plants he suggests to include in your meadow. Look for Alkaline and not wet plant species to thrive in the local environment of Havens!
To find out more about which flowers to choose for your meadow and where to buy plugs or seeds check out our other post here (link to our post)
Photo credits: Wildflower meadow / Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash. Wildflower plug/ photo via https:// www.wildflowers.co.uk. Making your own plugs/ Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash. Wildflower meadow Photo by Stephan Eickschen on Unsplash. Sowing seeds / photo via https://www.thompson-morgan.com/static-images/tandm/static-articles/ sow-wildflowers/sowing-wildflower-seeds.jpg. Seeds / Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash.