How to get seeds in time for Autumn
You want to grow wildflowers but Grow Wild haven’t sent you any seeds. We are really sorry. There are only so many seeds we can give out each year and we have to make tough decisions.
The good news is that seeds are relatively easy to get hold of and shouldn’t be too expensive, depending on what seeds you get.
You can buy them from a local garden centre, DIY, supermarket, or online shop. Alternatively, you could try and get donations from other wildflower growers or even collect them yourself. Here is some information on how to get your hands on some wildflower seeds in time for the sowing season.
Donations from other wildflower growers
When Summer comes to an end, wildflowers drop their seeds which is how sowing happens in nature, without humans getting involved.
However sometimes humans gather the seeds from these wildflowers before they drop. They’re the people you want to find!
You can read more about how to gather seeds on our page How to Collect and Store your Wildflower Seeds
The great thing about getting seeds this way (besides the fact they’re free!) is that you know where they have been grown, so can be confident they are native to where you will be sowing them.
You could put a call out to your friends on social media or by email. Or you could browse our map to see if there are any projects or sites near you that may have grown wildflowers this Summer.
Buying online or in store: remember to ask if the seeds are ‘native’
What we mean by ‘native’ is that the seeds are naturally found, and have been grown in, the country where you want to sow them. You can usually find this information on the back of the seed packet, although it’s not always written down.
We are passionate about encouraging people in the UK to grow native wildflowers, so if you’re visiting a garden centre or an online shop, make sure you ask where their seeds come from. Or try one of the suppliers suggested below, who all have native seeds available.
You can read more about why UK native wildflowers are important on our page Why Wildflowers?
Here are a few websites you may want to visit:
- Kew Gardens online shop (UK wide)
- British Wild Flower Plants (UK wide)
- Naturescape (UK wide)
- Scotia Seeds (Scotland)
- Eco Seeds (Northern Ireland)Meadowmania (UK wide)
- Thompson & Morgan (UK wide)
- Wild Flower Shop (UK wide)
- Habitat Aid (UK wide)
- Sarah Raven (UK wide)
- John Chambers Wildflower Seed (UK wide)
- Cumbria Wildflowers (UK wide)
What type of seeds should I buy?
All the guidance we provide is how to sow wildflower seeds and may not be relevant for other kinds of seed, like sunflower, so bear this in mind when looking for seeds to buy.
There are over 1,600 species of wildflower in Britain and Ireland. So there’s no shortage to choose from! You can buy packets containing seeds of a single wildflower such as oxeye daisy, but for a vivid and multi-coloured display you can buy mixtures of different seeds. You will most likely find that shops and garden centres offer you things like ‘Annual Wildflower Seeds’ or a ‘Wildflower Collection’.
On the back of the packet it will list the different kind of seeds inside, and you can use our Wildflower Gallery to see what kind of flowers these seeds produce, if they’re listed!
All wildflowers fall into one of the following categories:
- Annual wildflowers put on a show in their first summer and quickly produce seed, which then grows into new plants the following year. And so it goes on.
- Perennial flowers will wait to burst into flower in their second summer - and carry on for many years beyond.
- Biennial flowers grow in their first year but don’t flower and produce seeds until their second year, although some occasionally defy convention by acting like annuals. After producing seeds, these plants usually die in the same way as an annual.
For a long-lasting display of wildflowers beyond the first year it’s a good idea to try and buy a mix that contains a variety of all of the above.
If there are any other words you don’t recognise, see if they’re explained in our A-Z of Growing Words
What's a plug plant?
In your searching you may come across the option of seeds or plug plants. A plug plant is a seed that has already been grown into a very small plant. They can give you a head start but will cost more money than seeds. And for Autumn sowing, it may be better to use seeds.
Find out more about how Autumn sowing works in our post Why Autumn sowing is a good thing for UK native wildflowers
How much should I get?
It depends how big a patch you’re using!
Yeah, I know, it sounds obvious but it can be tricky to work out how much is enough. A good rule of thumb is 1g for 1m² but it never hurts to allow extra for more liberal sowing. Most seed packets on the market range from 1-3g but make sure you check what the packet says before buying.
And just to throw a spanner in the works… the size of seed varies depending on the species so some packets will tell you the number of seeds rather than the weight. If so, you just need a vague idea of the size of the wildflowers to estimate the amount of space the packet can cover (although bear in mind that not all the seeds will germinate).
But hold on…! Before you design a mind-boggling calculation to work out exactly what you need, or get halfway through sowing and realise you’ve run out of seeds, perhaps just get a bit extra. You can always sow any leftovers next time.
Once you’ve purchased your seeds you need to store them in a cool, dry, vermin-free place until you sow them. This will keep them healthy and ensure their viability doesn’t drop too much. (Viability is the ability of the seed to germinate, it declines as the seed gets older.)
Want to sow a much larger area?
If buying large amounts of seed it’s likely to be cheaper to go to a specialist grower such as the ones in our list above (and there are a few more suggestions here).