Wildflower calendar

Do wildflowers grow back every year?

Let’s be honest, wildflowers look fantastic in so many different outdoor areas, whether it’s a large wildflower meadow or some pots and planters on a garden patio. The stunning and vibrant blooms not only attract wildlife, such as pollinators and insects but they also lift our mood and bring a smile to our faces. It’s no wonder then that we would want our wildflower to grow back every year and flower all summer long! This helpful blog provides top tips on which wildflowers grow back every year and how you can give them a helping hand!

Types of wildflowers & their growing habits

Annual wildflower plants do not return the following year, as a rule of thumb. They tend to grow, bloom and perform their whole lifecycle all within a 12-month period. However, they can often shed quite a lot of seed during late summer, so you may see new plants grow the following spring, if you let the seed drop and they manage to get enough contact with the soil.

Perennial wildflowers are however a bit different. They work in almost the opposite way to annuals as they tend not to flower in the first growing season. Instead, perennials will flower in the second year and will then last and flower for many years after

Annual wildflower – get them to grow back every year

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get your annual wildflower species to grow back after the first flowering season. This is because once annuals set seed, they naturally die as they have completed their lifecycle. However, all hope is not lost! If you let the annuals set seed and let the seed drop onto the soil, you may get some naturally returning annuals the following year. If you want to add a top up to these, just repurchase your annual wildflower seed mix and, if you keep the area weed-free, in the sunlight and moist, you will get a fantastic bloom in the following year.

Examples of annual wildflowers:

  • Corn Poppy
  • Cornflower
  • Corn Marigold
  • Corncockle
  • Corn Chamomile
  • Black Eyed Susan
  • California Poppy
  • Candy Tuft
  • Fairy Toadflax
  • Oriental Poppy
  • Red Flax
  • Shirley Singles Poppy
  • Cosmos

Perennial wildflowers – get them to grow back every year

As mentioned above, perennial wildflowers may not flower in the first growing season. However, once they do flower, unlike annuals, they grow back every year.  There are some helpful things that you can do, however, to maintain and even increase the number of perennial wildflowers blooming every summer. If you want your perennials to really pack a punch, cut every couple of months in the first year – up until autumn. Don’t cut them too low, ideally around 5-7cm high. After the first year, cut once in March/April to about 7 or 8cm high and/or again in the autumn. This should get more perennial species going and create an abundance of wildflowers.

Examples of perennial wildflowers:

  • Foxglove
  • Vipers Bugloss
  • Carthusian Pink
  • Common Knapweed
  • Devils Bit Scabious
  • Field Scabious
  • Greater Knapweed
  • Jacobs Ladder
  • Michaelmas Daisy
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Red Campion
  • Sainfoin
  • Yarrow

Manage weeds & grasses to help wildflowers grow back

Unfortunately, weeds and grasses are extremely competitive and vigorous plants, which can be a problem for wildflower areas, especially if you’re looking for a 100% wildflower effect. This means that after a year or two weeds and grasses can outcompete the wildflower plants and you may see less wildflowers growing back each year.

Fear not, here are some top tips to keep your 100% wildflower area looking full of flowers for as long as possible:

Pick areas with non-fertile soil

Whilst grasses and weeds love fertile soil, wildflowers much prefer low fertile soil types and tend to do better on soil which is traditionally considered as poor quality. If you can, take this into your account when deciding where to sow your wildflowers.

Try weeding by hand

If you’re able, weeding the area by hand is a great way to keep these invasive species down and it can also be a great form of exercise! As a qualified personal trainer myself, I would definitely advise a weeding session as a great way to keep active and look after your mental health.

Use more competitive wildflower species

If you want to keep grasses at bay, the wildflower species, Yellow Rattle, can really help! It’s a super competitive wildflower plant and tends to suppress grasses. When buying your annual and perennial wildflower seed mix, keep an eye out for mixtures which include Yellow Rattle. If you want to sow more each autumn, you can collect the flower’s seed in the late summer and sow into the wildflower area.

Reseeding can help wildflower areas

If you’re seeing that weeds or grasses are taking over your wildflower area and you would like to add some more wildflower species to boost the area, you have two main options.

Firstly, you can try cutting the area to a really low height. From here, you can open up the grass and weed areas so that there are bare patches of soil – ideally about 50% of the area would be clear. You can then sow a 100% wildflower seed mix in these patches, making sure that the seeds make good contact with the ground. You can use a harrow for large areas or a lawn rake is fine for small areas.

Another option is to completely resow some or part of the wildflower area. If you’re finding the weeds and grasses have taken over the entire wildflower space, then it may be a good idea to start from the top – removing all greenery until you have a stale seedbed and then resowing your 100% wildflower seed mix. If only some of the wildflowers have been taken over by grasses and weeds, you could only remove the green matter from this section of the area. It may look a little strange at first but once the wildflowers have caught up with the older plants, it will be as good as new!

Choosing the right seed mix to get your wildflowers growing every year

If you’re like me and would like a wildflower bloom every year, I would definitely suggest buying a wildflower seed mix which is either 100% annuals or has a combination of both annuals and perennials. If you’re sowing in autumn or spring, the annuals should bloom in their first growing season – whether that’s the following year (if sown in the autumn) or the same year (if sown in spring). Just remember these three growing tips and if you’ve got annuals in the mix, you should be able to enjoy the vibrant flowers of these fabulous plants throughout the summer…

  • Stale seedbed when sowing i.e., no weeds or grasses!
  • Sunlight
  • Soil moisture

At YourGreen, we’ve specifically designed our mixtures so that there are annuals to provide a stunning bloom in the first year. This may be in the form of straight annuals, such as cornfield annuals, or in mixtures which have perennials in them as well. It’s definitely worth checking the ingredients list or asking the question, when buying your wildflower seeds from a retailer, whether online or in-store.

As always, get in touch if you have any queries or questions at all. We would love to help!