Free Wildflower Seeds

When I first wrote this page, it linked in to a couple of websites offering free wildflower seeds.  However, those offers have since expired, so I now find myself thinking up ways for people to get hold of wildflower seeds for free.  This time, I'm not going to link into temporary offers.  Instead, I have put together a list of suggestions.  You can also check my list of wildflowers loved by different species of bees (as well as other pollinators, of course!).

Wildflower habitats are crucial to wildlife, but in many countries, these habitats have been drastically reduced. This is bad news for the pollinators that depend upon them.

Why has this happened? A few reasons, but especially farming and agriculture practice, and building development which has seen housing built on green belt - I discovered my own home had been built on what was a meadow about 25 years ago.

Whilst I am in favour of seeing more wildflowers around, to an extent, I urge you to have a good think about things before you throw lots of seeds around in your garden:

  • Do you know what you are sowing?
  • Be careful not to include non-native, invasive species (not that I am against non-native plants in general - indeed many are very beneficial to pollinators).
  • Which kinds of wildflowers can your garden accommodate?
  • For example, if you have heavy clay soil, there is no point in trying to sow seeds that only thrive in dry conditions, and vice versa.
  • Are you sure about how you are going to incorporate wildflowers, and is it the best option for both you and the pollinators in your area?

The final point may seem a strange thing to write.  Mostly, I would assert that wildflowers are always great.  However, I will explain my reasoning further down the page. 

How To Get Hold Of Free Wildflower Seeds

Here is a list of ideas:

  • If legal in your area, collect them from wildflower verges.  Be sure not to disturb rare species of plant.
  • Find the owner of a meadow nearby, and ask if they would allow you to collect seeds.
  • Sometimes, conservation organisations promote wildflowers, and will even give away seeds or sell them for a small price.
  • If you are seeking free wildflower seeds for a charitable project, you may be able to get a donation from a supplier of wildflower seeds, or at least a discount.  I have personally instigated this to help a school, so I know there are suppliers who will help.  Look on line to find a supplier, and write them an email.  Don't be offended if they say "no" - try some-one else.  Be sure to use the email address of your school or charity, and explain the project clearly. 
  • Councils may be able to supply you, especially if you are hoping to convert a large area.  Some councils are keen to promote the planting of wildflowers as part of their schemes to aid pollinators and biodiversity.
  • Join local gardening and conservation groups - it may be possible to share and swap wildflower seeds.
  • Look out for offers on the internet and on social media.  Sometimes there are free seeds available, or very cheaply.

Incorporating Wildflowers Into The Garden

I have a personal experience to relate, which taught me to think a little more carefully about trying to convert gardens into wildflower zones.  My plan is to write a full blog about it, but in brief, these are my findings and recommendations:

  • in smaller gardens, sometimes it's better to be very selective in your choice of wildflower, and how you use them.

    Having tried initially to convert our small lawn into a wildflower patch (mini-meadow) a few years ago, I now keep the grass cut short, apart from areas of clover, daisies, buttercup,  Welsh violets, and lesser celandines, plus a few spring bulbs. I persevered with trying to create a mini-meadow for a couple of years, but it didn't really work as I had hoped, and to be perfectly honest, we did not enjoy the garden, and really get the benefit from our patch of land.

    The lesson is that your garden has to work for you as well as the bees - and this is perfectly possible.

    Below are 2 images of a small patch of garden behind my greenhouse - taken from different angles.  It is great for pollinators, having Jacob's ladder, lamb's ear, toad flax and campanula.

    In terms of wild flowers, it also has hedge woundwort, fox gloves a few dandelions (although I don't try to encourage these for reasons I explain below), and bluebells in early spring.  There are, of course, wildflowers elsewhere in  my garden, as I explain below.
Above: even a small patch can be put to use for pollinators. This spot is actually in partial shade for some of the day, due to an overhanging cotoneaster tree.

  • I now have flower borders, and have choice wildflowers incorporated into them, among carefully selected plants for bees.  This works better for me - and the bees, and I now get a greater variety of bee species than before!  For example, over time, I was able to attract hairy footed flower bees, wool carder bees, mason bees, chocolate mining bees and leaf cutters, as well as a good variety of bumblebee species and the honey bee.  I also grow raspberries, which bees love, and sometimes I grow vegetables such as beans and corgettes.  Both of these have flowers visited by pollinators.
  • If you are going to plant wildflowers, take a look around your local area.  If you have major abundance of a particular wildflower, you could think about leaving it out of your garden since it is provided elsewhere.  Opt for something else that meets the needs of bees.  You can still choose wildflowers, and you can opt for something native to your area, but perhaps something that needs help to extend its range. I did this.  I love dandelions, but decided not to worry about keeping them, since there are so many verges covered in them.  Rosebay Willowherb and knapweeds are also abundant, and I felt, would be intrusive in our small space.  However, hedge woundwort, ox eye daisies and poppies are present but patchy in the area, so I added these to my garden, and they look great!

Above: I have Bird's Foot Trefoil growing as a rockery plant in the front garden. A number of species forage on the yellow, cheerful flowers.
  • consider different ways to incorporate wildflowers.  I have various wildflowers in my rockery areas and even in pots.  This may be the best way to control a wildflower plant that has a very vigorous rooting system that otherwise would dominate your garden too much and too quickly.
  • In short, think about your own needs and what you would like, as well as what is good for the bees.  I firmly believe it is quite acceptable to design your garden in a way that suits the bees and you.  I have more bees in my garden since I ditched my 'create a mini-meadow' attempt.  I grow some fruit and vegetables (and enjoy great autumn raspberry crops thanks to the bees!). 

  • Bees benefit from many flowers that are loved by humans, as well as vegetable and fruit crops

  • Update:  I now have a page about planning a bee garden, with a free, printable PDF download.

  • Good luck with your wildflowers!

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