Our wildflower meadow planting and maintenance guidelines will help you as you plan your wildflower planting programme
More and more farmers are looking to plant wildflower meadows, not only as part of the GLAS scheme, but also to help with conservation and to support the survival of bees. Our guidelines introduce you to the best ways to plant and maintain meadows that make a positive contribution to Ireland’s natural environment and its biodiversity.
Spray off any grass, nettles or perennial weeds in March/April when green and growing actively.
I use Roundup @ about 4L/Ha or use a similar herbicide.
50mls/4.5L of water in a knapsack.
Cultivate 2 weeks after spraying, if conditions are suitable.
A fine firm fluffy dry seedbed is essential for good establishment.
Aim to sow in April if the weather is good.
Sowing rate 6kgs per acre.
Mix the seed with some dry sand so that you get a more even spread and don’t lose it all together.
Sowing options such as broadcasting or seed drills all work but the ground must be cultivated first and the seed should be covered with a very light cultivating or raking after sowing.
Covering the Seed
A very light covering is all that is required using for example a grass harrow.
A simple home-made device such as this old ESB pole pulled behind a tractor is ideal for covering the seed.
Be very careful not to bury the seed too deep. 10mm is ample.
Rolling is not necessary.
No Fertiliser Needed
Absolutely No fertiliser because this will only encourage competition from grass and other weed.
Wildflowers do best in poor soil and this is why you often see poppies on roadside banks.
In Full Bloom
After 7 or 8 weeks you will the first flowers and after 12 you should have this result.
This will attract hundreds of bees, hoverflies and butterflies all summer.
The blue cornflower will continue flowering well into November.
Do nothing until the following spring because the dead flower seeds like these will attract hundreds of finches all winter and what seeds they don’t get will fall to the ground and germinate the following year. In March cut all the dead flowers and stalks back to almost ground level and remove them.
After removing the trash and when the weather is good in March/April give half of the plot a very light cultivating to a depth of just 1cm to freshen up the ground and to mix the fallen seeds with the soil. This will help them to germinate. Leave the other half and do this the following year. The red campion will be first to flower in the spring.
If any perennial weeds such Docks, Nettles or Thistles appear just remove them by spot spraying with a knapsack or by digging them.
The same applies to grass although this will be more difficult to get rid of. Too much grass will eventually smother the flowers.
You might find that the reds like the clover take over in later years so just remove some of them if you don’t like too much red and keep up the light cultivations every other year.
If you find you are losing some flowers just add another bit of seed during the cultivations.
Irish Agent for UK based Bright Seeds
As the Irish agent for the UK-based Bright Seeds, I attend training days regularly with Bright Seeds in Salisbury.
I have over 10 years’ experience in trialling and experimenting with wildlife friendly crops to suit Irish schemes and conditions. As a former fruit farmer with a keen interest in shooting and conservation, I draw on a strong understanding of the balance required in Ireland’s countryside.