How Do You Start A Wildflower Garden?

A wildflower garden is a great alternative to a neat, bordered yard. Although some people see it as the “lazy approach,” it’s a great low-effort way of introducing new plants and species into your outdoor space. 

Wildflower gardens involve allowing the plants to grow as they please, naturally. It’s best to avoid mowing your lawn, as this can reduce the fertility of your plants and prevent them from pushing through the grass. 

The easiest way to begin growing your own wildflower garden is to start from seeds. However, it’s important not to get carried away and just sow your seeds wherever you please. Location is key, as there is little point in planting your seeds in shady areas or even patches of grass that don’t get enough direct sunlight. 

How Do You Start A Wildflower Garden

It’s best to choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Wildflower seeds usually come pre-packed and contain a mix of several different flower species. Before purchasing your wildflower seeds, you’ll need to ensure that you choose flowers that can grow in your area. 

While wildflowers are rather resilient and have a great ability to grow almost anywhere, it is best to check your soil for any deficiencies before planting any seeds. You can do this by purchasing a home testing kit from your local garden center.

These kits usually involve mixing some of your soil with distilled water and dropping it into the container provided. The results will inform you whether or not your soil is deficient in any nutrients. 

For best results, we recommend using a rototiller to grind all the way down to the bottom of your soil. This will help to break up any grass and weeds and any other plants in the area that can stunt the growth of your wildflowers.

If your grass is very long, we recommend mowing it on the lowest setting before tilling. Alternatively, if you don’t own a rototiller, an aerator rake will do the trick. You may just have to press a little harder than usual.

How do you care for a wildflower garden?

While wildflower gardens are generally considered low-effort in comparison to structured gardens, they do still require some maintenance to keep them looking tamed and intact.

A good place to start is by putting up defenses to protect your seeds from birds. Some people opt for a scarecrow to do this job, but if you want something a little more subtle, hanging reflective tape and nets can do the trick nicely. 

It’s also a good idea to remove any weeds if you come across any. Although wildflowers are able to grow beside weeds, as they do so in nature, they can easily get out of hand and overtake your wildflower garden.

So, to keep weeds at a minimum, we recommend using a weed killer or herbicide that is safe to use on your specific flowers.

Once the summer is over and autumn is creeping in, you’ll notice that your wildflowers will no longer be in bloom. Once this happens, it’s time to mow your lawn. Use your lawnmower on the highest setting and re-till the soil to prepare for planting again next year.

Even if you’ve opted to plant perennial flowers, it’s still advisable to mow them down roughly 4-6 inches (10 - 15cm) to encourage them to go into hibernation and return again in full bloom next year.

However, after the first year, it’s important that you do not mow from early April to late summer – August or September. This allows as many types of wildflowers to bloom as possible, providing food sources for pollinators for a long period of time.

If you’ve planted seeds in spring then you should get your first blooms in summer, but the main bloom will happen the following spring.

It’s important to remember that your garden is the habitat of many different species of wildlife. This means that you should take extra care when mowing and be sure not to hurt or disturb any small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles that may be hiding in the grass and weeds.

As some birds nest in larger meadows, it’s recommended to avoid mowing these at all until after the beginning of August.

When should I start a wildflower garden?

The best time to plant wildflowers is in the spring, this gives them a good long season to get established and set seed. If you are starting later in the summer, be sure you have at least eight to ten weeks before frost if you want them to self-sow.

However, you can technically plan a wildflower garden in the early spring too, after frost. The flowers should bloom all throughout the summer and then the seeds should drop in late fall/early winter. It’s important to make sure that the temperatures in your garden are low enough to prevent the seeds from germinating until the following spring.

Frost can kill off a batch of seeds before they germinate, so don’t start planting until the risk of frost has completely passed. If you’re not sure, we recommend that you check your local weather forecasts to make sure there is no more frost predicted, then it is safe to begin the planting process.

Here’s a list of the best wildflowers to plant during spring:

  • Dropwort
  • Grape hyacinth
  • Red campion
  • Oxlip
  • Foxglove
  • Primrose
  • Cowslip
  • Ribwort plantain
  • Black medick
  • Hoary plantain
  • Selfheal
  • Wild daffodil
  • Bluebell
  • Sweet Cicily
  • Meadow buttercup
  • Ox-eye daisy
  • Cow parsley
  • Cock's-foot
  • Sheep's-fescue
  • Wild thyme
  • Lady's bedstraw
  • Chamomile

Here’s a list of the best wildflowers to plant during summer:

  • Autumn hawbit
  • Feverfew
  • Meadowset
  • Teasel
  • Betany
  • Field Scabious
  • Musk mallow
  • Toadflax
  • Foxglove
  • Bird’s-foot-trefoil
  • Tufted vetch
  • Bladder campion
  • Goatsbeard
  • Pignut
  • Scentless mayweed
  • Oxeye-daisy
  • White campion
  • Wild carrot
  • Red clover
  • Perforate St John's Wor
  • Bulbous buttercup