Tips for Choosing Native Wildflowers

Choosing native wildflowers is an increasingly popular way to encourage and conserve local wildlife in your garden, and to attract beneficial insects to your food producing areas. Unfortunately, however, many gardeners think that you can simply pick up a generic pack of wildflowers or 'bee-friendly flowers' and sow these in any garden. In actual fact, choosing the right native wildflowers for your garden is a somewhat more complex subject. To help you make the right choices, here are some tips for choosing native wildflowers:

Look Around at Nature Before Buying Seeds

The first step in any garden planning and design should be observation. Gardeners should always make sure that they look around at the plants and ecosystem types in the surrounding area – as well as getting to know their own garden and seeing it more clearly. Looking at the wildflowers growing in local fields, roadside verges, and local woodland edges could give you a range of clues about which wildflowers might work well where you live.

Think About Native Wildflowers for Your Area

Many gardeners make the mistake of simply ordering seeds online that are advertised as wildflower mixes for their area. But it is important to remember that there are a wide range of climate-types and conditions. Wildflowers that work well and thrive in the south east, for example, will likely not be the same mix that will work well in the north west.

Think About Soil Type and Conditions in Your Garden

One of the reasons that generic wildflower mixes do not always thrive is that the soil types and conditions – soil fertility, moisture retention, pH etc... - will very considerably from one garden to another. Wildflowers that thrive in chalky conditions will often not do well in a heavy clay soil, for instance.

Consider Micro-Climate in Your Garden – Not Just the General Climate of the Area

It is important to think about the general climate of your bioregion when choosing wildflowers – and all other plants. But it is also important to remember that very local micro-climate factors can come to bear on how well your plants will do. For example, you might have a frost pocket in your garden, or a particularly shady or damp spot, which may differ considerably from the general conditions where you live.

Think About When Each Wildflower is in Bloom – Not Just When to Plant Them

Finally, even when you think you have selected the right wildflowers to plant in your specific garden, it is also important to consider whether or not those wildflowers will be in bloom when they are needed by the local pollinators and other wildlife. Try to select a wildflower mix to provide blooms, nectar and pollen for as much of the year as possible.