Traditionally, spring is the time of year many gardeners start to plant wildflower seeds, ready for a colourful display lasting through the summer. However, garden rewilding experts at Seedball say that August through to November is the best time to scatter wildflower seeds. Here, Dr Emily Lambert, co-founder of Seedball, gives her top three reasons why it’s wise to wrap up, get out into the garden and sow seeds in autumn.
Autumn sowing mimics natural seed stratification
Many people do not realise that some seeds require a colder snap to enable them to sprout, with seedballs like the Poppy, Sky Meadow and Beetle Mix all ideal for an August to mid-November scattering. The cooler months allow dormant seeds within to stratify naturally and stay protected, in their seed ball, preserving their energy and hardening to the cooler conditions. Once the warm air of spring arrives, the germination process is triggered, and the plant will begin growing outwards with a stronger and sturdier foundation.
Wildflowers prosper in poorer-quality soil, meaning that no seedbed preparation is needed to grow these beautiful blooms. Just scatter them in the desired space and wait for a burst of colour come next year – easy!
The earth is in your favour
Seedballs are already a low-maintenance way to grow stunning flowers in the garden and scattering them in autumn makes the process even easier. The soil temperature in the autumn remains warm due to the summer sun mixing with the extra moisture in the air, creating an optimal environment beneath the ground. Gardeners can also expect much more natural rainfall during autumn, so people won’t need to remember to water them so often – Mother Nature does it for us!
Seedballs are made of clay to allow the wildflower seeds inside like Cornflowers, Forget-me-not and Meadow Cranesbill to be protected from predators such as birds and ants, while peat-free compost is used to provide nutrition, and a little bit of chilli powder to deter slugs, squirrels and snails from taking a bite.
It means enjoying wildflowers for longer
Autumn scattering means people can experience a sea of colour in their gardens for longer. The early sowing allows the seed to germinate for longer so the roots grow stronger and more resilient, which can ultimately lead to bigger, healthier, and brighter flowers than those sown in the spring. It also means that the pollen-rich wildflowers will provide vital food for pollinators earlier on in the year! The Bee Mix Seedball Tin was made with pollinators in mind, containing a mixture of seeds including Foxgloves, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Red Clover, Wild Marjoram and more. These can be sown as late as mid-November for potential April blooms.
Seed balls can be scattered all the way up until the first frost arrives – this does differ in different parts of the country, but if it is not icy at night, it is still suitable to scatter.
What to do when wildflowers have finished flowering
You can back annuals and biennials after they’ve finished flowering, but we recommend leaving the stems to collapse and decay naturally. Doing so creates valuable habitats for insects to overwinter in. Seedheads will scatter across the patch, creating food for birds as well as seeding the earth ready for next year. If you are wanting a tidier look, whilst still eeping habitats for wildlife, perennial flower stems can be cut back to around 20cm. Be sure not to damage any of the new green growth when doing so - and remember to never cut back on frosty days.
Want to start scattering seeds this autumn but don’t know where to start? Seedball’s Wildflower Tins – including both single flower and carefully selected mixes – will get the garden flourishing in no time. The Mini-Meadow pots, too, are a perfect option to begin a growing journey. The all-in-one set means all that is needed is to add water! For larger scattering areas choose from the Annuals Mix or Wildlife Mix grab bags, each containing 100 seedballs, to cover up to 5 meters squared respectively.So, wrap up warm, enjoy the fresh air and try scattering some seedballs this autumn – ready for beautiful wildflowers to adorn the garden next year all summer long.