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Growing native wildflowers is an excellent way to provide the right food for pollinating insects, making life better for your local wildlife.
If you haven't got a lot of space, you can grow wildflowers in a container. You'll be able to enjoy a burst of colourful and interesting flowers while watching visiting bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
It's best to start this gardening project in the spring or autumn.
Watch the video above to find out how to grow your pollinator pot. You can find full instructions and tips below.
Ensure your pot has good drainage so that the soil doesn't become waterlogged. Check that it has holes in the bottom, then place a layer of rocks and stones in the base.
Mix together equal amounts of soil and compost. This helps ensure the growing medium isn't too rich for the wildflowers, which prefer nutrient-poorer soil.
Fill the pot with your soil/compost mixture, to roughly within 2.5 centimetres of the top.
Sprinkle your seeds thinly and evenly on the surface of the soil. Then cover with one centimetre of your soil/compost mix.
Water well, being careful not to disrupt the seeds.
Place your pot in a sunny spot and leave to grow. Water regularly so the pot doesn’t dry out, but don’t over water!
Your plants will flower at different times, depending on what's in your chosen seed mix. Some plants might not flower until the second year.
Once the flowers have bloomed and faded, leave them to go to seed. You can collect the seeds and use them for another pot. Once everything has flowered, you can cut back the plant growth to around 2.5 centimetres high.
The next year, your plants will flower again. Depending on your seed mix, different species may predominate.
Watch out for any vigorous invasive plants that might crowd out your wildflowers. Weed these out.
When choosing a wildflower mix, look for a supplier that specialises in native British wildflowers, otherwise you may get flowers that are less attractive to local wildlife. Many ‘wildflower’ mixes include non-native species which may look spectacular, but do not provide the same benefit to wildlife.
Wildflower seed mixes have different proportions and types of flowers and grasses, depending on their intended use. For a compact display in a pot, you may prefer a 100% mix of flowers, with no grasses.
Many mixes contain colourful plants, such as poppies and cornflowers, that live at field margins rather than in meadows. These will provide a burst of colour in the first year, but will disappear in later years as other plants assert themselves.
You might want to consider adding two mixes to your pot, one mix of plants that live on the field margins and only grow for a year, as these give vibrant colour in the first year, and one mix that will establish in subsequent years and provide lasting colour and biodiversity. Alternatively, you could re-sow the pot each year, but the soil will need disturbance to encourage plants like poppies to germinate.
If you enjoy watching your plants develop and seeing what insects are attracted, then why not start noting down what you see? It's a great way to feel connected to nature.
Check out our guide to creating a nature journal, or use our digital app to record your observations.
You may even be able to contribute your sightings to UK recording schemes, such as the Garden Butterfly Survey and the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.
If you need help in identifying what you've seen, use the iNaturalist app or contact the Museum's ID team, by email or on their Facebook group.
If you have a lawn, there are a range of ways you can improve it for wildlife, from simply mowing less frequently to installing a wildflower meadow. Check out our article on how to grow a lawn that's better for wildlife.
If you enjoy watching butterflies, there are various plants you can grow to help feed both caterpillars and butterflies. See our gardener's guide to butterfly-friendly plants.
... or that it helped you learn something new. Now we're wondering if you can help us.
Every year, more people are reading our articles to learn about the challenges facing the natural world. Our future depends on nature, but we are not doing enough to protect our life support system.
British wildlife is under threat. The animals and plants that make our island unique are facing a fight to survive. Hedgehog habitats are disappearing, porpoises are choking on plastic and ancient woodlands are being paved over.
But if we don't look after nature, nature can't look after us. We must act on scientific evidence, we must act together, and we must act now.
Despite the mounting pressures, hope is not lost. Museum scientists are working hard to understand and fight against the threats facing British wildlife.
For many, the Museum is a place that inspires learning, gives purpose and provides hope. People tell us they 'still get shivers walking through the front door', and thank us for inspiring the next generation of scientists.
To reverse the damage we've done and protect the future, we need the knowledge that comes from scientific discovery. Understanding and protecting life on our planet is the greatest scientific challenge of our age. And you can help.
We are a charity and we rely on your support. No matter the size, every gift to the Museum is critical to our 300 scientists' work in understanding and protecting the natural world.
From as little as £2, you can help us to find new ways to protect nature. Thank you.