What is the best soil for growing wildflowers?

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On the long, cold, blustery days at the start of the year it is easy to find yourself dreaming of spring.

January and February are such grey and dreary months but can be the ideal time to start planning for your gardening calendar. Creating a beautiful and colourful wildflower meadow could be a great way to attract all manner of wildlife and eco-systems to your garden.

colourful wildflower meadow under orange-streaked sky

A colourful wildflower patch like this is great for attracting wildlife.

Autumn and spring are usually considered the best time to plant wildflower seeds. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, planting during March and April can be advantageous, especially in the UK where the heavy rain of winter can cause water logging and therefore the seedlings to rot.

Where can I grow wildflowers?

What are the best types of soil for growing wildflowers and why do these contribute to a successful and thriving wildflower garden?

Good drainage is vital:

Water logging can cause problems for wildflowers, like all plants. Therefore, it is important to implement good drainage systems in the form of natural stone boulders or rockeries, installed drainage systems and even raised flowerbeds.

Drainage is good for wildflowers as it allows nutrients such as nitrogen to escape, making the soil less fertile and protecting new seedlings from rotting.

Of course, there are some types of wildflowers such as bog plants that thrive on water logging and even require it to survive.

Low nutrient soil is important:

Soils that are nutrient rich, such as those used in farming, may be perfect for general planting around your garden but can cause major problems for wildflowers.

Phosphorus-heavy soil can be damaging to wildflowers as it encourages the burgeoning of fast growing plants such as grasses and nettles, which compete with the slow growing rate of wildflower seeds and simply overwhelms them.

It can be difficult to remove nutrients from existing soil - it's like removing sugar from your tea or taking the salt out of your soup.  Phosphorus is much harder to remove from soil than nitrogen as it does not simply wash away with drainage.

Nutrient levels can be dropped over time by  continuously cutting and removing vegetation. But for the very best results when establishing wildflowes, you having to take the top layer of soil off before you attempt to plant wildflower seeds. Either plant into the subsoil, or import some low-nutrient soil from a reliable source. 

With good management, most types of wildflowers can work well in a soil with a neutral level of pH 7 and only those of a specialist nature do not cope well with a higher or lower pH level.

Where can I find low nutrient soil?

Low nutrient soil is not easy to come by these days.  Most of the land in the UK has either been farmed or gardened in it's time and has probably been well fed to produce high yielding crops.

Topsoil from a building site may be higher in nutrients than it looks - it may also contain all sorts of unwanted debris.

Meadowmat has created a low nutrient soil by blending sand with a little bit of loam to give good drainage, a nice workable consistency and just the right levels of nitrogen for wild flowers to thrive in.

It's slightly more costly than garden soil but it will ensure that you get the results you want.  Use Meadowmat Low Nutrient Topsoil to fill raised beds for wildflowers or to replace your garden soil. 

(When I was developing my veg garden, I dug out my garden soil, used that to fill raised beds for vegetable growing and then filled the hole up with low nutrient soil so that I could grow wildflowers to encourage bees to visit the garden)

More about Meadowmat Low Nutrient Topsoil

Click here for prices and availability on Low Nutrient Topsoil 

Where to use wild flowers in your garden

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