How to look after your wildflowers at the end of Summer

Greenery with some yellow flowers and dried flower headsThe responsibility of growing and looking after wildflowers can be a bit daunting.

There’s the bit at the beginning where you sow the seeds, water them and wait. After a few weeks, if you’re lucky, green shoots begin to appear, at which point it's not entirely clear what's a wildflower and what's something else!

You keep on watering, hoping you’ve not done too much. Or too little. You do the knuckle test. Then joy of joys! A flower appears. Then another. Our job is done!

Except it isn’t.

Now that Summer is almost over, how do you look after your patch? Do you keep watering them? Are the brown ones dead? What if you didn't see any flowers at all?

If you’re not quite sure what to do now, help is at hand. Scroll down to find out what to do...

What are you growing?

Wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare)

When growing any plant, you should find out what you're growing. That way you know what to look out for and how to look after your wildflowers.

Wildflowers come into one of three categories: annualbiennial or perennial (see below). The Grow Wild seed that we give out has a mix of these, so you will need to brush up on your identification skills to work out which of the seeds have grown into plants.

If you have sown seed you got yourself then you may already know what you have. However, it's always worth double checking!

What should I look out for?

If you sowed your seeds this year and you can already see flowers, then you are looking at an annual wildflower species.

An annual wildflower lives and dies within one growing season. At the point of dying, it drops its seeds into the soil, ready to germinate and grow again next year (a process called 'self-seeding'). However, if you pick the flower before it drops its seeds, or cut it down, then you stop it from repeating that cycle and will not see any flowers again next year.

If you sowed your seeds this year and you have patches of green foliage that haven't flowered, then you are looking at either a biennial or perennial wildflower species.

Both of these wildflower species spend their first Summer getting comfy, ready to flower the next year or even the year after that. For biennials, once they have flowered they will also die and drop their seeds into the soil (like annuals), keeping the cycle of life going for a new plant to grow.

However perennials keep going, even after they flower. As long as you look after these plants, you should enjoy their flowers year after year.

So what do I do with my wildflower patch?

Flowers in a container that have flowered and are looking a bit brownThe Grow Wild team's wildflower container

It is completely up to you how 'wild' you want your patch to be.

If you'd like it to look neat and tidy, then you may want to 'cut back' (i.e. cut down) the wildflower stems, making sure not to disturb the greenery of any biennial or perennial flowers you have growing there as well. If you do this, you may also want to collect the seeds in the process to sow them in Spring.

You could chop and drop, which means cutting down the stems and letting them fall into the patch to self-seed.

Or you could leave the stems completely. They will eventually fall down, under their own weight. This kind of wild patch provides a perfect habitat for insects, beetles and other wildlife to thrive, especially during the colder months, and the seed heads act like nature's bird feeders! However, it can look more messy.

If you do have any biennial or perennial flowers in your patch, keep watering them until it gets too cold, at which point the plants will become dormant, ready to grow again once Spring arrives.

Collect your own seeds to sow in Spring

One of the great things about wildflowers is their generosity. They will produce an abundance of seed, more than enough for both you and the wildlife.

Seed collecting is pretty straightforward and seeds collected in the Autumn can be put to good use either straightaway, or in the Spring.

Do you want to start a wildflower patch this Autumn? Sign up today to find out how!