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
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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