ESF1 – Meadow Flowers
Managed grassland containing a diversity of plants is one of the best habitat resources that can be created on a farm. The natural balance of meadow perennials in ESF1 will provide a succession of attractive flowers over the season, providing a good source of pollen and nectar as well as food plants for a variety of insects. This mix grows well on most soil types.
|%||Latin name||Common name|
|22.5||Centaurea nigra||Common Knapweed|
|5||Daucus carota||Wild Carrot|
|15||Galium verum||Lady's Bedstraw|
|5||Leucanthemum vulgare||Oxeye Daisy|
|25||Ranunculus acris||Meadow Buttercup|
|2.5||Rumex acetosa||Common Sorrel|
|7.5||Silene dioica||Red Campion|
|2||1||0.2||Order this mixture|
It can also be used on its own as a 100% wild flower mix to add diversity to existing grassland.
The following growing guide assumes sowing with grass onto a bare soil seed bed.
Ideally select ground that is not highly fertile and does not have a problem with perennial weeds (especially weeds like docks, thistles or couch). Choose lower yielding areas that have a sunny aspect, or face south or south-southwest. Avoid planting under overhanging trees, next to tall hedges or on land facing north or east.
Good preparation is essential to success so aim to control weeds and produce a good quality seed bed before sowing. Roll fluffy or dry seedbeds with a ring roll to consolidate before sowing.
Seed is best sown in the autumn or spring, but can be sown at other times of the year if there is sufficient warmth and moisture. Sow between 15 March to 31 May or 15 July to 15 October to comply with Countryside stewardship requirements. (If sowing just wild flowers into existing grassland sow in Autumn).
Seed must be surface sown: broadcast by machine or broadcast by hand (do not drill). Do not incorporate or cover the seed, but roll to firm it in and get good soil/seed contact. (more on sowing)
First year management
Growth and establishment of wild flowers and grasses may be slow initially. There will often be a flush of annual weeds from the soil in the first growing season. This weed growth is easily controlled by topping or mowing. Top all plant growth at least 3 times through the first season (removing cuttings if dense) to prevent weeds and grasses smothering the slow-growing flowers. More frequent and regular topping will minimise the amount of toppings produced each time so they can be left to disperse.
Management once established
Each spring if plant growth is more than 15cm in height cut (and remove cuttings if dense) to achieve a plant height of between 5cm and 10cm tall. Cut before 31 March.
Do not cut or disturb grassland from 31 March - 15 August to provide flowers, habitat and foraging sites for invertebrates (including wild pollinators) and birds.
Cut or graze back the main summer growth after 15 August and remove cuttings so not to leave a mulch and to help reduce soil fertility; both important to maintain flower numbers in subsequent years.
Cut or graze up to 31 October aiming to leave a plant height of between 10cm and 20cm. Remove cuttings if too dense to disperse easily and quickly.
Leave 10% of the area uncut or ungrazed to provide over-winter nesting and safe refuges for insects and other wildlife.