If you have a large area around your home, which you obviously don’t want to leave uncultivated, but for which you have limited time to maintain it, wildflowers may be a suitable solution. Moreover, it can also be suitable for small spaces.
In order to install our crops, wild plants, known as “weeds”, have to give way. However, they provide many services to the gardener, as do the auxiliaries.
Choosing your wild flowers
There are wild flowers for all types of soil (rocky, dry, humid), for all types of exposure (shaded areas), for all tastes and for all desires. Some are dedicated to butterflies, others to bees or birds, and still others are designed to keep aphids, beetles and other pests away. While helping biodiversity, you prevent invasions of pests in your crops: a very “eco” attitude.
Wild flowers are sold as a mixture of seeds to be sown. Associations of perennials and/or annuals mix various flowers with similar or different colors for very different but interesting effects. Cornflower, zinnia, sunflower and poppy for a country effect. Warm colors, blue and white with lavateras, silenas, cosmos, marigolds or gypsophila.
Choose plants that are adapted to the soil and climate of your region, and take inspiration from those that grow naturally around your garden. The idea with wildflowers is to let the plants reseed themselves and colonize the space dedicated to them.
How to plant your wildflowers in the grass?
Prepare the ground
First of all, mark out the plot of land where the wildflowers will be planted with the help of ropes. It must be free of weeds, otherwise they will compete with your seeded plants. If you have time, practice false seeding: let the weed seeds germinate and destroy them by tilling the soil.
Prepare the soil to receive the seeds: it must be loose and even. Turn the soil with a spade, going as deep as possible to facilitate the rooting of the flowers. Then, rake the soil by passing the rake on the surface, without forcing to recover all the stones.
Do not add fertilizer or compost. Without it, your plants will only be more beautiful. Why not? First of all, because they are wild flowers, used to poor soil, and bringing fertilizer would only encourage the appearance of “undesirable” plants. And secondly, because they will prefer flowers to leaves. A good way to induce an abundant bloom.
Sowing wildflower seeds
Annual flower mixtures are sown in spring from March to June, preferably in warm soil. Thus, in the South, sowing will be done earlier than in the North (mid-April versus mid-May). As for the mixtures of multi-annual flowers, the sowing is done from March to October, the mixtures of perennial flowers are sown from April to July. Avoid sowing during periods that are too hot or too dry.
Measure the area to be sown to determine the exact quantity of seeds to sow. Weigh your seeds: More seeds will be sown on a non-watered ground and in a rockery, less if the conditions are more clement. This step is important because it conditions the final effect of your wild flowers, if you have the hand too light the decoration will appear thin, but if you have the hand too heavy, the plants will enter in competition and will weaken.
To make seeding easier, add sand to the mix. Ready-to-sow mixes are now available: the seeds are combined with a neutral material such as buckwheat hulls or sand, allowing for a good distribution of the seeds.
Broadcast the seeds on the surface. Proceed slowly and by small handfuls, hand closed, index open to control the quantity of seeds sown. The ideal is to systematically cross the seedling.
Roll or pack the soil with the back of a shovel to bring the seed into contact with the soil. The seeds, often small, should not be buried in the soil.
Once sowing is complete, water immediately with a light rain. In the absence of rain, water the first 4 days for germination, then once a week for 1 month after sowing.
Flowering will take place 6 to 8 weeks after sowing. To create pathways through the wildflowers, simply mow through them.
Which wildflowers should I choose for my garden?
Plant or sow as many flowers as possible in your beds, containers and planters. You can even use them in your grass. Choose mostly native species. They grow better in our climate and are a better food source for butterflies and bees. The more nectar you have, the more bees and butterflies will come to your garden in summer.
Why grow wild flowers in your garden?
Wild plants: bio-indicator plants
Wild plants only develop in a given place if the conditions are favorable. They give us information on the quality and nature of the soil, its evolution and its current or future dysfunctions.
Also, for those who are attentive, it is possible to identify the needs of your soil and to react accordingly, by amendments, contributions of organic matter or others.
Plants to protect and nourish the garden soil
Wild perennials such as white alyssum or creeping bugleweed provide ground cover during the winter to protect the soil from leaching and erosion. Others have strong or branched root systems that break up soil (white stock, large-flowered orlaya).
Others still play the role of green manure (birdsfoot trefoil – not to be confused with exotic birdsfoot trefoil), sweet clover or other wildflowers of the Fabaceae family) or produce a significant biomass (borage, comfrey) useful, when decomposed, for the regeneration of humus.
To reduce the space to be maintained
A small corner of the garden left fallow or sown with wild plants (read: The wild garden) requires almost no maintenance. The sown areas should be watered and monitored in the early stages to limit the spread of unwanted weeds.
Thereafter, one mowing per year is sufficient (but nothing prevents you from intervening a little more, to clean up). The case of the messicolous plants is a little particular since their seeds which have fallen to the ground only germinate if the ground is stirred again.
Plants to protect and feed crops
Used in the form of purins, macerations or decoctions, some wild plants can be used as natural insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers. The most commonly used plants are nettle, comfrey, horsetail and tansy, but you can also rely on fern, mint or lavender.