Idealseed is a leading supplier of Wildflower & Grass seed in the UK, our Wildflower seed is 100% native British and sourced only from professional growers.

Seed can be sown anytime of the year and the idea if sowing March-October is purely a myth, what’s more, winter seeding is more in line with natural processes. Spring seeding is actually an artificial process. This process is called Dormant Seeding.

What is dormant seeding?

Dormant seeding is the process of sowing seed at a time of year when soil temperatures are not optimal for germination. It is also known as cold seeding. So why would you sow seeds that are not going to germinate? The idea is that your dormant seed will begin to grow in early spring, as temperatures begin to rise.

As the name suggests, seed will lie dormant when the conditions for germination are not met. The seed itself will not die or rot if it freezes, it will simply wait until the conditions it needs are right. If soil temperatures are below 6 degrees most seed will not be able to grow.

Does dormant seeding work?

Dormant seeding can be very effective, but there are some dangers to look out for. If you seed in winter, you will need to keep a close eye on the weather. Colder temperatures are best, as grass seed will not die if it freezes. Ironically, the real concern is weather that is unseasonably warm. High temperatures may warm the soil enough to allow seedlings to germinate. When cold, winter weather and harsh conditions return, seedlings may struggle to survive. As long as seedlings don’t shoot during the winter, dormant seeding does work.

What is the best time for dormant seeding?

In the UK, overseeding in late November to February through to March is best. Wait until autumn leaves have fallen, so they can be cleared before you prepare the soil.

Dormant Seeding vs Spring Seeding

Overseeding in winter can offer some benefits that you might not expect.
As soil thaws and freezes during winter, it can help to increase seed to soil contact. A layer of snow can help keep seeds in place and protected from birds. Because soil stays moist for longer during the cool season, you will need to water less than you would in warmer weather. Seed will begin to grow in bare patches as soon as the conditions are right which can help to protect from weed growth in these areas. What’s more, winter seeding is more in line with natural processes. Spring seeding is actually an artificial process, which doesn’t allow for a dormant period. Laying dormant is a part of nature’s re- seeding cycle, so allowing this to happen is definitely good for your seed.

Prepare the Ground

I-DS Bee & Butterfly Wildflower Mixture performs best in low nutrient soils, which have not received fertilizer. For best results sow into bare soil after clearing all existing plants and weeds from the area Finish the seedbed by treading or lightly rolling the area, so that it is firm enough to stand on without leaving indentations. Where weeds have been prevalent, allow a flush of weeds to germinate and remove these before sowing. High nutrient soils encourage weeds and fast-growing grasses which may outcompete the wildflowers in this mixture. Broadcast spreading by hand is ideal and the seed must not be buried deeper than 0.7cm. Sowing Rate The sowing rate of 5g/sqm is designed to produce optimum results.

Reducing the sowing rate is likely to result in invasion from weed species. Increasing the sowing rate generally leads to reduced diversity as the more aggressive species will outcompete slower growing plants.

First Year Annual species such as Borage, Corncockle, Cornflower and Field Poppy will generally flower in year one. Therefore, it is important to control weed and grass growth in year one. During the first year remove any weeds which grow before they run to seed, either by topping, mowing or by hand for smaller areas. Weed growth is common due to the action of disturbing the ground. In September / October cut the area to 10cm using a scythe, strimmer, or mower, leaving the cuttings for up to a week before removing. This allows them to dry and shed seeds back into the soil. Mow or graze the re-growth through autumn/ winter and again in early spring if needed.

Second Year After twelve months the sward should be well established. Simply follow the same cutting pattern (March – October). Avoid cutting from mid spring to summer to ensure best flowering results. As an ongoing process, observe and remove any weeds which invade the area. Over time, some species within the mixture may become more dominant due to environmental factors and natural selection. To encourage diversity, simply reduce the number of dominant plants to restore the balance.

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Billy Nimmo
M.D – Idealseed
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