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02 10/02/2016

Wonderful wildflowers

  • Wildlife Connections
  • Wildlife Connections Resource
  • Habitat - Butterfly Journey

Wildlife Connections encompasses all things wild, from the birds and the bees to the hedgehogs, hedgerows and wildflowers.

There are lots of species of wildflowers that come in an array of colours and sizes. Not only do these beautiful flowers add colour to your garden, they are very valuable for other local wildlife too.

Wildflower patch in Chester Zoo

Planting wild flowers in your garden or green space is just one of the many easy ways to get involved in Wildlife Connections, and they can be grown anywhere – in a patch of soil, window box or a simple container.

Planting UK native wildflowers is best because they are hardy, resilient and well suited to our climate and soils; plus many are easy to grow in the garden. But, there are lots of lovely garden plants that are good for wildlife too, so you don’t have to stick to native species.

Spring is a great time of year to start planting so here are a few hints and tips on choosing which wildflowers to grow, where to plant them, and how to do it:

What to plant?

Try to get different types that flower at different times throughout the year - you may need to do a bit of research into which plants flower in which month. The result will be lovely for you and your garden, and also great for wildlife as you’ll be providing food bees all year round.

Tip: why not try and plant night scented stock and tobacco, they open in the evening and attract moths.

It’s good to choose at least some native species. With garden plants try to avoid plants with double or multi-layered petals on their flowers. Flowers like this often don’t have much food for butterflies and bees. If you have the space then you could also have a go at planting flowering trees and shrubs too.

Wonderful wildflowers at Chester Zoo 

Where to plant?

Have you already got wild plants in your garden or plot? Then don’t disturb something that’s already good for wildlife, why not record them on our recording form instead?

It’s important to remember that different plants thrive in different environments – is your wildflower spot shaded or sunny, wet or dry? There are good wildlife plants for all these areas, but it might be worth doing a bit of research beforehand to see which plants are best suited for your space.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got space, you can plant wildflowers in pots, containers and window boxes too. The plus side is it’s easier to get ‘clean soil’ in a pot (no weeds).

Tip: why not just try leaving a patch of grass to grow longer? This will encourage plants like dandelions and daisies to grow in the lawn.

Wonderful wildflowers at Chester Zoo 

How to plant…

Clean up the soil you’re going to plant your flowers in – remove as many weeds and roots as you can. Some weeds are also wildflowers too so you could leave some to be a part of your wildflower patch.

Tip: good ways to clean soil are to cover the plot with old carpet for several months, or to dig and turn over the soil with a spade so that weeds are buried at least 30cm underneath.

Find out how to maintain the flowers to keep them growing each year. Annuals should flower the first year if they are planted in spring or autumn, but to make sure they come up again the following year you’ll need to look after them. Biennials (flowers that take two years to complete their lifecycle) and perennials (flowers that continue to grow year after year) probably won’t flower in the first year. But don’t give up on them! They will flower in the second year, and perennials will come again each year with luck.

Tip: never use chemical sprays on plants in flower, you could poison bees and butterflies.

After planting your wildflowers don’t forget to keep an eye on what wildlife starts to visit you throughout the year.  If it’s given you the bug to make more changes to your garden to make it even more wildlife friendly, then why not make homes for the bugs, birds and bees that are visiting your garden as a result of the flowers you’ve planted? Have a look at what you can do to make your garden more wildlife friendly, here.

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