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Bee-friendly flower seeds to sow in the garden in October

Bee-friendly flower seeds to sow in the garden in October

While there might be an autumnal nip in the air, there are several flowers you can sow in October for beautiful blooms. If sowing seeds directly, be sure to prepare the ground first – weed thoroughly, then fork over the soil, treading to consolidate it, and rake to create a level surface and fine tilth.


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While not native to the UK, these annuals are one of the best plants for bees and other pollinators, and they make great green manure. Prepare a patch of bare soil and direct sow the seeds for spring blooms – a spot in full sun is ideal. 

Cow parsley
Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing') self-seeds readily, but you can give it a helping hand or introduce it to new areas by sowing the seeds directly now. When harvesting the seeds, keep the starry flowerheads intact as they'll provide lovely winter interest. Cow parsley is important for a variety of insect life including bees and hoverflies. They are also a food plant for the moth Agonopterix heracliana.

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Sweet woodruff
Sweet woodruff is a shade-loving perennial, often used as a groundcover plant. Sow the seeds directly in autumn in raked, improved soil for spring germination. It's a woodland plant that is often grown for ground cover in shady areas, including under trees and shrubs. From mid-spring to July it produces clusters of dainty white flowers that are held above whorled leaves. All parts of the plant are sweetly scented. It has nectar/pollen rich flowers and attract bees and other pollinators.

Cowslips (Primula veris) are tough little perennials that relish a partially shady spot in the garden. Fresh seeds need a cold period to germinate, so sow fresh seed now where they are to flower. Look for signs of germination in spring. An early flowering plant this species is important for wildlife, providing nectar for various insects, such as bees, beetles and butterflies, like the brimstone. Cowslip is also a food plant for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.


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Orlaya grandiflora
These pretty Mediterranean natives are commonly known as white laceflowers. Sow them in autumn to overwinter, for early blooms next year. It's a great choice for wildlife gardens and is particularly attractive to hoverflies.