How to create and manage a flowering lawn using my plant plugs

 Planting and management advice for my special

Low Flowering Lawn plug collection

  • Water your plugs before planting.
  • To remove your individual plant plugs push them up and out using the hole in the bottom of their cell with your little finger or the blunt flat end of a pencil or biro.
  • Ideally choose a site that receives a reasonable amount of sun. Although this wild flower lawn plant collection will tolerate a fair degree of shade it will flower much better where it receives more sun.
  • Delay planting out if the soil is dry and hard, or if it is frozen. Otherwise you can plant them at any time of the year.
  • If planting into lawn or any grassland mow the area tight first (removing the cuttings) and plant into the soil ensuring you have removed any thatch from the soil surface at that spot.
  • For floral richness plant at a distance of no more than half a metre spacing between the plugs.
  • Once planted keep the plants watered during their first 6 weeks if rains do not do the job for you. Be extra vigilant in times of drought and hot weather. The most common losses are caused by the young plants drying out before, during or just after planting.
  • After planting into your lawn, mow the area of lawn containing the plant plugs with your mower blades set low enough to just cut above the top of the plugs. This is to ensure that the grass does not grow tall enough to swamp the young wild flower plants and will allow them enough light and warmth from the sun to let them build up a good leaf and root system. To start with cut the lawn about every two weeks (this depends on the weather and how fast the lawn grows) and as the wild flower plants get bigger and taller raise your cutting height so you are mowing just over the top of the plants but do not worry if some taller plants get mown off, this will not kill the plants (indeed with many species it will actually help them produce more vigorous sideways growth). Once the plants reach 2 inches high this can be your final mowing height.
  • When the plants are obviously established and have reached about 2 inches high reduce your mowing to once every 3 weeks (note: some species that form rosette-shaped leaves low in the grass will not grow as tall as 2 inches until they flower so don’t worry about these). The wild flowers in this collection will tolerate close mowing to a height of about 2 inches (5cm). To receive good flowering all season maintain a mowing frequency of about one cut every 3 weeks for the majority of the summer – this is approximate and you can extend this mowing interval if you like. If you mow too regularly i.e. every week then many of the plants will not have a chance to flower between mowings, although you will not kill the plants. The final cut of the year should be done shorter than 2 inches to leave the lawn quite tight and ideally remove the cuttings to ensure good flowering resumes in the spring. With this final cut you will be cutting the wild flowers and the grass down short, they will grow back and you will not have done any harm to the plants, you will actually be stimulating them to grow back more strongly next spring by doing this.
  • If you wish to maximise the flowering and wildlife benefits of your wild flower lawn once it is established (which would normally be from the second year), instead of mowing the whole lawn in one go, you can mow alternate halves every 10 days i.e. alternating which half of the lawn you cut each time, this will ensure there are always flowers to view and for bees and butterflies to enjoy throughout the summer as it can take a week to ten days for flowering to resume following each mowing.
  • Your wild flowers are all perennial which means they will survive year after year without the need for dropping their seed. They are fully hardy to survive the winter. Being perennial wild flowers they will spread throughout your lawn in subsequent years by their vegetative growth and so your flower display should get better every year. There will then be a succession of different species flowering throughout the spring and summer. Many of the perennial wild flowers spend their first year bulking up their leaf growth and root structure instead of flowering so do not expect to see very much flowering in this first year. It is from the second year when your wild flower lawn will mature, with different species flowering en masse throughout the spring and summer.

If you follow these simple management instructions your wild flower lawn should survive indefinitely and bring you much pleasure and fascination year after year with its colour and the wildlife it attracts. No two years will be the same as different species will bloom at differing levels of abundance, producing an ever changing feast of colour and form for your enjoyment and for the bees and butterflies too.

Colin Reader

       www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com