It's sowing season and this year we're backing the #BillionSeedChallenge encouraging people to come together to plant seeds in a bid to boost the UK's biodiversity in the run up to COP26.
The team at the National Wildflower Centre, part of Eden Project, has given us these top tips to help your wildflowers bloom!
It's all about timing...
Now is a great time of year to sow wildflower seeds - from the end of Summer until the first frosts. This is when wildflowers would naturally go to seed so why not take their lead? You will be able to sow fresh seed whilst the soil is still nice and warm meaning you'll get the best germination. But just be aware that the later you sow your seed, the later in the year they will flower. If the ground is too cold, save your seed until the spring.
All seed is precious
Sowing seeds is actually very easy, get the kids involved - they'll love it, but just remember wIldflower seed is not like grass seed, it's valuable stuff and a little goes a long way. Sow sparingly - it's not necessarily an advantage to sow lots of seed in a small space, plants will end up competing for light, space and water. if they are sown thickly they won't be as strong and healthy and won't flower as well. Try mixing your seed with a carrier like sand helps you make the most of your seed, many of which are tiny.
Go for a mix!
Choosing different types of wildflowers means you'll have a longer flower display throughout the warmer months, and is great for pollinators too as there are more choices.
Having both annual wildflowers (which flower once a year and then die) such as Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and Corn marigold (Glebionis segetum) as well as perennials (which take a little longer to establish, are longer lived, and flower year on year) such as Red campion (Silene dioica), Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and Lesser knapweed (Centaurea nigra) means you get the best of both worlds.
How to plant
Prepare your ground
Clear an area of your garden and expose the soil, raking the surface flat to create a seedbed for your wildflowers.
Sowing your wildflower seed onto a clear area of soil will give it the best start in life, they need space and light to thrive.
Most wildflowers prefer to grow on poorer soils so don't worry about adding anything to your soil!
Tip your wildflower seed into a clean dry bucket
Add a carrier to make the seed go further and last longer, it also helps you to see where you have sown. Sand is a good carrier, but make sure it is dry as wet sand is hard to mix and sow as the seeds clump together. Mix by hand like you are making a cake.
Pick a nice dry day to sow your seed.
Take one big handful from your bucket and grip it tight, walk forwards. Keep your hand gripped tight and let the seed slip out between your fingers moving your fist back and forth as you walk forwards. (You'll be surprised how much control you have and how a little seed can go a long way).
Once you have got to the other end of the patch, turn around and walk back and repeat over the strip you have just done. Once completed one way, do the same at right angles to your first sowing, this enables you to get an even coverage.
Or you can go rogue - there are other ways to sow...Sowing is like painting with seeds, create patches where you like and how you like. Use the seed bomb message - take a handful of seed and throw it up into the air creating explosions of colour!
Once finished, give your hands a good wash.
Aftercare is easy!
Remember wild flowers are sown just on the surface of the soil, they don't like being covered in deep soil. Wildflowes tend to get enough moisture from the air and on the whole don't need watering.