How to sow in containers

Wildflowers can happily grow outside in containers.

If you don't have access to a patch of soil, it’s a great option, especially for balconies, paved areas and to add variety to larger outdoor spaces.

Types of container

One of the keys to success is to avoid small containers; wildflowers won’t survive in a cramped space. They need room for their roots to grow and absorb nutrients and water, so best to go big or go home.

The kind of things you could use are large wooden planters, oversized pots, old baths (see below), or even boats (like the one above).

Bath by the side of the street filled with green plants and plant markers

You will need:
  • Large container
  • Stones or broken crockery
  • Top soil or multipurpose compost
  • Watering can or jug
  • Wildflower seeds
  • Something to label your container with
Preparation
  1. Check your container has a few holes in the base to let water gradually drain out. Otherwise, use a drill or sharp instrument to add holes, taking care not to hurt yourself
  2. Add a few stones or broken crockery to the bottom to help drainage
  3. Move your container to your chosen space before filling it; an empty container is much easier to move than a full one
  4. Fill the container with top soil if possible, or use multipurpose compost. The compost doesn’t need to be the most expensive, but for environmental reasons please avoid any that contain peat
  5. As you fill the container, gently push down the soil or compost to break up any lumps and get rid of large air pockets. Stop filling 25mm from the top to allow room for watering
  6. Sprinkle seeds by hand evenly over the surface and cover with 1mm of soil or compost
  7. Water well
  8. Label the container with plant markers you could even make some yourself. Look here for some inspiration.

Watch Hannah Grows show you how to do it:

After sowing your seeds…

Make sure that the soil in your container remains moist and water it if dry. This is the most vulnerable time for seeds – seedlings can be killed if the soil dries out completely - and wildflowers in containers need regular watering throughout their lives.

In Summer this can mean a good soak every day, even if it’s been raining. But be careful not to over-water. If the soil is too saturated, the seedlings could die from a lack of oxygen reaching their roots.

Your seeds should germinate within a couple of weeks of being sown, depending on the weather. Be patient and keep looking out for the tiny green shoots of life.