Meadows Advice Centre Annual Meadows How-To Guide

Sowing Times and Conditions


Sow in the spring between March, April, May, or early June at the latest. Wait for signs that the soil is warming up, such as weed and wildflower seedlings appearing on bare earth. April is usually the best month to prepare the ground and sow the seeds. In mild areas, autumn sowing is possible for an early flowering display but will result in the loss of some (or all) of the display if there is frosty weather during the winter or spring.


Any open, sunny location which gets at least a couple of hours of sunshine each day. For the best results, choose the sunniest spot. A shady position will result in patchy growth and poor flowering. Sow into any free-draining soil or compost. They can be sown in pots, window boxes, containers, tubs or raised beds.


Ground Preparation


It is important to sow onto a very clean seed bed and ensure that all visible weeds, especially grass, are removed. Ideally, this includes killing or removing the roots and rhizomes of perennial weeds. Do not sow into existing grass or other vegetation as this will lead to failure. If you think the area has a lot of weed seeds present in the soil, you can spread a 5-10cm deep sowing mulch of weed-free compost or soil improver over the area to create a clean surface to sow onto.

Soil Preparation

Once weeds have been removed, cultivate the ground shallowly by using a rake to form a nice level seedbed that has a fine, crumbly texture. If the soil is hard and compacted, shallowly cultivate the area by turning the soil with a fork or cultivating with a rotavator. Cultivate the soil to around 7cm (3 inches) and then rake to form a crumb texture seed bed.


Sowing Your Seed

Sowing Rate

Our annuals should be sown at a rate of 3g per square metre.

How to Sow

Mix your seed thoroughly with an inert bulking material such as sawdust, coir or even builders sand at a rate of five-parts-sand to one-part-seeds to help distribute the seed over the area. This will also allow you to see where the seed has been sown. Sow the seed/sand mix evenly over the whole area by scattering in different directions, ensuring that you keep the mix well mixed throughout the sowing process. We always recommend sowing by hand as this gives the best results.

Rolling and Watering

The seed/carrier mix is sown onto the surface, and it is essential that it is firmed onto the soil surface by using a garden roller, back of a spade or even walking over it. Normally, annual seeds will not require any form of watering in the UK, but if drought conditions are experienced, then watering will be required. Watering is best done by leaving a sprinkler on the area in the early morning/late evening and letting the ground become completely saturated so the water soaks down into the soil where it won’t evaporate and encourages deep root growth. Giving a lot of water every few days is much better than giving a little water every day. Stop once the ground is covered with seedlings.


Establishment and Management


You could expect to see the first signs of germination in 7-10 days. Growth can be very rapid after this, and flowers may start appearing as early as 6 weeks after sowing.


If ground preparation has been good, then it is normal not to undertake any form of maintenance such as weeding at all throughout the whole of the flowering season. Our annuals are specifically designed to throw up taller and taller flowering stems as the year progresses and this characteristic, along with the very high flower content, is effective at ‘masking’ weeds that do invade. If there are a lot of weeds, they can be hand-pulled as soon as they are identified while trying to keep meadow trampling to a minimum. The earlier you do this, the better.

End of Season

Once the flowering season has finished, the area can be cut down and left on the surface as mulch or removed and composted. This can happen any time from autumn through to late winter. Leaving the meadow standing over winter provides oil-rich seeds for birds and hollow stems for overwintering insects. Standing seedheads can look attractive too. There may be some re-seeding of certain species the following spring, which can give a limited flowering display. However, to get a full pictorial display, you should freshly prepare the area again by re-cultivating the ground and re-sowing the following spring.


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