There may be trouble ahead...

If you sowed wildflowers this spring, your wildflower patch might well be blooming wild by now.

Hand watering seed
 

But sometimes, even the best-laid plans, or most meticulously sown seeds, go awry, so this week, we chatted to Chris, our wildflower expert at Kew, who shared his top tips for when things don't quite go as planned...

Meet Chris.

He's Grow Wild's Wildflower Expert.

The UK summer can bring weather extremes: wind, rain and extreme heat, so to give your wildflowers the best chance of survival, Chris says it's important to protect your plants so that they can withstand the various harsh conditions they're likely to be exposed to. Below, he answers your most commonly-asked questions to troubleshoot problematic plots.

Chris Cockel

You asked:

"What if there's heavy rainfall on my plot?"

Mud and wellies

Chris says: "Make sure the plot is well-drained, especially if it has heavy clay soil. A well-drained site will stop water from accumulating. It's important to avoid this because plants may rot if they are waterlogged for too long. I usually recommend creating a soak-away at the lowest point of the plot, and part-filling the ditch with materials such as builders' rubble, to improve the drain's porosity."

"What if there's a cold snap?"

Horticultural fleece

Chris says: "You can cover your plants with horticultural fleece, and peg it up just above, making sure the fleece doesn't touch the seedlings since this may squash them. I like to puncture each corner of the fleece and attach bamboo pegs to keep it up. This keeps seedlings warm and shielded from the cold, wind and rain, too, since it creates a sheltered micro-climate for the plants."

"What if it's really windy where I've sown my wildflower seeds?"

Dandelion seeds in the wind

Chris says: "If it's really windy, you can protect your seeds from blowing away by scattering a light layer of straw over the plot after sowing. If you're worried about seedlings or small plants, you could create a barrier against the wind around your plot, or cover plants temporarily with a cloche: a bell-shaped, clear cover that will allow light in but protect from strong winds. You can make your own easily out of old plastic bottles."

"What should I do if the weather is hot and dry for a prolonged time?"

Dandelion in dry, cracked ground

Chris says: "Lightly water the plants, but don't fertilise them. It's important not to over-water or give the plants too many nutrients. Over-watering could wash them away, and adding fertiliser will only favour aggressive weeds. British wildflowers are designed to withstand harsh conditions, and they thrive in nutrient-poor soil, so only give them a light sprinkling of water, even when it's really hot."

Chris' final words of wisdom

 "Try to be patient with your wildflowers. They can take years to really flourish! Just enjoy the process, and don't expect immediate results".

Flowering meadow illustration

We're really grateful to Chris for sharing his expertise - we hope you found his advice helpful. 

We'd love to hear how you got on with some of these suggestions, so please share your photos and comments with us on social media and tag us @growwilduk.

You can read more about how to grow wildflowers on our wildflower web pages.