Wildflower plugs are easy to plant and provide more reliable way of introducing conservation worthy wildflowers. They can be introduced easily into existing grasslands and are quicker to establish than seed. They can enhance the effectiveness of seed mixes by providing cover for developing seedlings.
Applications for plug plants
- Meadow enhancement and restoration
- Introducing rare species or those with erratic slow germination
- Local provenance stock and priority species
- Green roofs and brownfield sites
- Wetland planting (lakes, ponds and streams)
- Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)
- Woodlands, hedgerow and traditional orchards
Cheap and ease of handling and planting
Plug plants are small plants (see plant sizes and ordering for details) normally in their first year of growth and are ideal for wildflower meadow planting as they are a fraction of the cost of a pot plant (9cm) and large numbers can be handled and easily planted into prepared ground or existing grassland using a hand tool called a dibber or long spike.
More reliable way to introduce species of local distinctiveness and difficult to establish species
Germination from seed can be erratic and slow, particularly of conservation worthy and rare species, and therefore plug planting is a more reliable way to introduce certain species such as pignut or violet. Seed for rare plant species can be in short supply and may not be available in quantities required for seeding.
Much of our woodland ground flora are indicators of ancient woodland spread slowly by vegetative means (runners) and seed viability is low so plug planting is the only option for some woodland species. Wetland habitats can be subject to waterlogging from autumn to spring and seeding may only be possible in the summer where there is risk of seed drying out on surface. Therefore plug planting or use of root trainers (deep rooted plants) is often preferable in wetland planting.
Plug planting and seeding combination recommended
Using plugs and seed together is a tried and tested combination; the plants act as a nurse crop providing cover for developing seedlings and reducing competition from grasses or unwanted weeds in the seed bank taking. Planting plugs with a seed mix can therefore can improve the overall success of seed sowing and offer a more instant impact whilst slower growing perennials are getting established. The seeding rate and plug planting density can be reduced when a combination of both is used.
Should the visual impact and amenity value be of high importance in your wildflower scheme then plugs will provide more of an instant impact that wildflower seed but it should be noted that many slower growing perennials will not flower until the following year after planting. More mature stock in larger sizes (9cm pot) can be specified if flowering the same year is required. Fast growing species such as ox-eye daisy and red campion will often flower in their first year of planting.