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Instructions for Sowing
Individual Species of Wild Flower Seeds

When to Sow:
Wild Flower seeds can be sown all year round, but best results are generally achieved by sowing in the autumn (August to early October) or spring (February to May). Seeds sown in the autumn will generally flower slightly earlier than seeds sown in the spring.

There are a few seeds which will benefit from stratification (periods of alternating warmth and cold).  This will occur naturally if the seeds are planted in the autumn and left to over-winter in a cold frame or covered outside.  It can also be achieved by putting the seed tray in a refrigerator for 6 to 12 weeks.  Some examples are: Cowslip, Wild Carrot, Wild Clematis, Primrose, Oxlip, Violets and Yellow Rattle.

Some hard-coated seeds may benefit from being rubbed between two sheets of fine sandpaper (scarification) to aid water absorption or alternatively they can be soaked in water overnight.  Some examples are: Bird's Foot Trefoil, Clovers, Salad Burnet, some Cranesbills and Vetches.

Many wild flower seeds have in-built survival mechanisms which may mean that they germinate irregularly over a long period. Donít discard seed trays or pots prematurely as you may be surprised to see seedlings appearing the following year.

The label on your seed packet will give sowing instructions for that particular seed based on experience in our nursery, but very good results can be obtained by sowing at other times and it can be fun to experiment.

If you need to store your seeds, put them in a moisture proof container in your refrigerator where they will remain viable for much longer than if kept at room temperature.

Sowing Instructions:
Seeds can be sown in situ (ie where they are to grow and flower), in seed trays or in small pots. They can be sown either outside or in a coldframe or greenhouse.

In Situ: Seed can be sown in situ outdoors if you have plenty of it, but the number of plants you end up with may be less. Wild flowers will not be able to compete well in areas of lush weed growth, so it is important to start out with a completely weed-free site.  This can be achieved by either digging out any existing plants, covering the area with black plastic for a few weeks or using a glyphosate-based weedkiller such as Roundup.  It may be necessary to repeat these activities over a period to ensure the area is clear.  Donít cultivate the ground or turn the soil once you have cleared the surface weeds as this will bring seeds held in the soil bank to the surface where they will germinate. Once the ground has been prepared and the area raked to a fine tilth, sow the seeds over the surface, rake them in gently and water the ground carefully. Very fine seeds can be mixed with silver sand to make them easier to sow evenly.

In Seed Trays: Fill clean seed trays with a good quality, fresh, multi-purpose seed compost. Firm the surface and water the compost. Then sow the seed thinly and evenly over the surface. Very small, fine seeds do not need to be covered with compost, but larger seeds will benefit from a fine covering of compost - roughly the same depth as the seed is in size.  Very fine seeds can be mixed with silver sand to make them easier to sow evenly. Water the seed tray taking care not to dislodge the seeds themselves.  I find it easier to stand the seed tray in a larger container with a centimeter of water in it for 15 minutes, allowing the soil in the seed tray to soak up what it needs.  Alternatively a fine spray may be used. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots or cells when they are large enough to handle.  Grow them on in pots or cells of compost until they have developed a good root system.  Pot grown plants will develop a good root system, which will ensure rapid establishment when they are planted out into their final position. 

Pots: If you only require a small number of plants or if you only have a small number of seeds, you may prefer to use small pots. Fill clean pots with a good quality, fresh, multi-purpose seed compost. Firm the surface and water the compost. Then sow the seed thinly and evenly over the surface and follow the same instructions as for sowing in seed trays.

Donít forget to label the seeds! Do not let the compost or seedlings dry out - keep them moist, but not soaked.

Common Causes of Failure:
The most common cause of failure is incorrect watering.  Donít let the compost dry out as germinating seeds and young seedlings have no resilience and will not recover if allowed to dry out. Be careful not to over water or leave the plant pot standing in water for more than a few minutes.  Water thoroughly, but leave the compost to almost dry out before watering again thoroughly.

Slugs and snails may be a problem to your young seedlings.  If this is the case, do not use slug pellets as they will be harmful to other useful wild life such as hedgehogs and frogs.  A jam jar of beer sunk into the soil will attract any slugs or snails in the vicinity and can then be emptied out every few days.  Copper rings can be used around plant pots and work very well.

Caterpillars are best removed by hand as they can very quickly remove all of the leaves on a seedling.

Birds can be discouraged by using netting as protection. ĎBow tiesí of silver foil tied along a length of string and then attached to stakes can be criss-crossed across the seed bed to protect larger areas outside.

Poisonous Seeds:
Some wild flower seeds or other parts of plants are poisonous, but it is very difficult to provide a definitive list. Sometimes only small parts of a plant are poisonous or sometimes it will depend upon the amount of material consumed. It is prudent to treat all material as potentially poisonous unless you are absolutely certain and keep them away from young children.
     

 

 

 


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