Choosing the right spot & seed type

Contrary to most other flowers and plants in your garden, perennial wildflowers are not too fussy about the soil they grow in. The more impoverished the better, as rich soil overloaded with nutrients will promote leaf growth and fewer flowers. For this reason, an unused area of your garden is perfect for your meadow. That said, if you are looking to convert a previously used bed, then there are annual cornflowers which will thrive in good soil.

Depending on your soil quality, it's usually best to choose a mixture of perennial and annual seed types, which will maximise flowering time through the year. And don't forget to consider the colour mix you want to see in your meadow.

Preparing your meadow

The first thing to do is give your meadow or plot a good hand weeding, as they will compete for space, light, and food with your flowers. Once done, dig over, level and firm the soil, before raking to a fine, smooth surface. Scatter your seed mixture by hand and lightly rake over and watering in. If possible, apply a net covering to stop birds, wildlife, and pets from disturbing the soil.

If sowing in the spring, the key to good germination will be warmth and moisture, so water regularly, especially through hotter periods, to help at this key stage.

You can also sow in the Autumn, as some seeds need the cold to start germinating. But be careful if the ground stays saturated for long periods, as the seeds will rot away. If this is likely, spring sowing will be better.

Remove weeds by hand as they appear, but don't use lawn weedkiller, as this will kill the wildflowers and all of your hard work!

Maintaining your meadow

A newly sown meadow needs some degree of maintenance during the early months, especially Autumn sown meadows. Cutting back to around 3 inches will encourage the flowers you want to thrive and help reduce the vigour of the more rampant species.

Additional cuts towards the end of the growing season, typically from August to November, will help the wildflowers establish further.

It's a good idea to keep the clippings in situ to allow any seeds to drop to the floor, but collect the mowings after a few days. Not trimming effectively may turn the plot to scrub.

The following spring, again cut back to 3 inches and remove weeds.

If you find you have a lot of grass growing and competing with your wildflowers you can sow Yellow Rattle in the autumn to help manage the grass, but hold off mowing till April.

It is maybe necessary to sow more seeds for the first couple of years until the meadow becomes well established.