Why are seed balls better than seed?
Our seed balls were created by Conservation Scientists to make growing wildflowers from seed simpler. Seed balls are their own mini ecosystem, protecting seed from birds, ants and slugs and giving them the nutrition they need to have a head start. With Seed balls you dont have to have any gardening expertise. There is no need to propagate the seed, or even plant it! Just pop on top of soil, water and watch grow! Each seed ball has up to 100 seeds, a mixture of species suited to different conditions. Seed balls are made from a unique blend of seed, clay (to protect the seed from ants, mice, birds etc.) peat free compost (to give seeds a boost) and chilli powder (an extra predator deterrent). This ancient technique of seed propagation provides all the nutrition and protection that a seed requires for its early growth - which is particularly useful for growing wildflowers, as their seeds often takes longer to germinate and grow than other garden plants.
Seed balls don't need planting or complex propagation - just scatter them where you want them to grow (preferably on top of soil or compost), and let nature take over! It really is that simple! Seed balls will also grow equally well in pots or other planters.
Seed balls can be scattered at any time of the year, although spring and autumn is usually an optimal time to start wildflowers growing, while our Herb Mix and Salad Mix will grow well throughout the spring and summer. Wildflower seed balls can be scattered in the summer with success, although flowers are unlikely to be seen until the following spring/summer, once they get going though they will improve their display with each year! When exactly the seed ball grows and flowers will depend on the type of seed ball bought. Our wildflower mixes include a variety of seed species in one ball - some of these are annuals (the plant survives for one growing season) and some are perennials (plant survives for more than two growing seasons).
Seed balls can be scattered on top of soil or compost in your garden, and ideally in a nicely sunny spot. For grassy areas it's best to remove a layer of top-soil before scattering seed balls. See here for more information on how to create a garden meadow. Seed balls can also be grown with some soil or compost in pots (or other planters) in your garden, balcony and window boxes (see our identification gallery for help in spotting which species are growing from your seed balls).
It depends on how dense you'd like your wildflower garden to be. As a guide we recommend that you'll need at least twenty seed balls per square meter (one tin). If growing in a small pot, 3 - 5 seed balls will probably be enough. For larger pots or window boxes, 8 - 12 seed balls should do the trick. The more accustomed you become with growing seed balls, the better you'll be at gauging the perfect quantities to use! Remember your wildflowers will get more abundant with each year.
No. The seed balls should be left intact. Once water has permeated the clay, the seeds will slowly begin to germinate inside the ball. Scattered seed balls should not be picked up once it's rained, as this could damage any growing roots.
If you scatter your seed balls outside there should be no need to water them. Just let nature take over! Saying that, watering will certainly speed up germination and early growth. If your seed balls are inside or under cover then you will need to water them every 1-2 days.
On average you can hope to see around 10 sprouts per seed ball.
Seed balls are simple way of gardening because the balls protect the seed once you scatter them. However, the seeds won't begin to germinate until there's been a good amount of rain to fully soak the clay and seeds (and it's not too cold), and therefore it can sometimes take a while for your seeds to begin sprouting. So patience is important! You will eventually see things starting to happen when the conditions are right - growing wildflowers is definitely a long-term project. With plenty of rain (or help from a watering can) you should see sprouts from our Edible Range within two weeks, and sprouts from the Wildflower Range within four weeks if scattered during the optimum time of year for the seeds.
Native wildflowers are slow-growers compared to many of the exotic plants common to gardens. Seed balls take some time to sprout and will also take their time to fully grow and flower. While some species will flower within the first year, many will not flower until the second year. Although they require patience, growing wildflowers is a beautiful and rewarding experience for you and for wildlife. See our identification gallery for help in identifying wildflowers before they're in flower.
As not all seed is likely to germinate in the same year (or sometimes at all), we include a lot of seed to try and ensure that at least 10 sprouts will grow from each of your seed balls in the first year, even for the novice gardeners among us! This 'survival of the fittest' approach also means that for the mixed species seed balls, those species most suited to the conditions in which they're scattered will be the ones to thrive. It's also likely that you'll have fresh sprouts emerge over the next few years from the area where the seed ball was first scattered.
No, you don't need to do anything! The seed ball will begin to grow as a cluster of plants, but will later disperse as the clay itself disintegrates and disperses.
They will keep well for planting the next few years if they are stored in a cool and dry place.
Our seed balls are made with love by Project Maya in London and help to fund conservation.