5 benefits of sowing wildflowers in Autumn & preparing a stale seed bed

Thinking about sowing wildflower seeds in Autumn? You'll be glad to know that Autumn is the best time to sow wildflower seeds, which we will get into below. But first, understanding the importance of ground preperaiton is key for successfully estbalishing wildflowers. 

Preparing a 'stale' seedbed

A stale or false seedbed is a weed management practice. A seedbed is created a number of weeks before sowing, allowing weed seeds just below the soil surface to germinate. The young weeds can then be eradicated before sowing your seed. A well prepared seed bed, free of weeds, grass and other plants can optimise germination, survival rate and will determine the success of your wildflowers.

  1. Begin the process by removing grass, weeds and any other plants from the area you plan to sow.
  2. Loosen, or lightly turn the soil over to a depth of about 4 inches.
  3. Level the soil off with a rake or harrow and compact the soil using a roller or walking all over. This will increase germination.
  4. When the weeds have germinated the young plants (weeds) should be eradicated.
  5. Carry out this process 1-3 times depending on the rate of unwanted plants..

Creating a seedbed free of grass, weeds and other plants will ensure you wildflowers don't need to compete for space, moisture and sunlight.


5 benefits of sowing wildflowers in Autumn

  1. Annual wildflowers sown in autumn can flower up to 5 weeks earlier the following summer and generally produce more flowers than those sown in Spring.
  2. Root systems are established, meaning they're less prone to drought and require less watering during dry periods.
  3. Some species such as Yellow Rattle need the cold of winter to germinate, this is called vernalisation. Corn Poppy also germinates better with cold weather.
  4. There are little to no pests such as slugs, snails and aphids during the Winter, meaning that your flowers will have less damage and stress to contend with.
  5. Conditions in autumn are generally more ideal with extra moisture in the air to be absorbed by the seed, this also means less watering as nature takes its course.


What's best for Autumn sowing?

A note from Patrick;

While I spend much of my time in the garden this time of year, enjoying the sound of bees foraging for nectar and watching my flowers bloom, my mind is already thinking about next summers garden, and therefore Autumn sowing.
Below I have put together a few of my favourites for garden spaces, suitable for sowing in Autumn. The Annual Pollinator and Cornfield Annuals mix always put on the best display with their impressive flower heads, while the Year after Year Mix and Butterfly and Bee mix create a more long term, but not as dramatic and colourful of a meadow after year 1. Borage is always host to the most amount of bees, and it's flowers make a wonderful garnish for my summer salads and drinks.
My best recommendation for an extended period of colour is to plant Spring flowering bulbs beneath your meadow. In doing this, you will have a cheerful display of colour from late Janurary until October. The bulbs bloom in January and as they die back in May, the wildflowers begin to blossom, bringing colour right up until late-Septemeber, early October. 
Wildflower seeds for sowing in autumn

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