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Which seed should I use?

Whether you wish to create a meadow from scratch or introduce more wildflowers and grasses into your meadow or grassy area, or within your garden lawn, our species lists are here to guide you.

A wildflower meadow with yellow, white, purple flowers in among the grass. The meadow is in Ryewater, Dorset. Image is by Jo Costley.

When selecting seeds, the first things to think about are:

  • soil type
  • fertility levels
  • problem plants and how to manage them.

You can do this by understanding what the species that are already there are telling you about your soil, fertility and its existing species, and/or by carrying out a soil test. If you are wishing to introduce more species to an existing grassland, then knowing what you already have is important so that you can tailor what you introduce to be an appropriate match.

It is best to survey your grassy area over the summer and use our handy ‘plant forensics’ guide to help you understand which species are likely to do well, before purchasing any seed.

We recommend using local seed mixes which you can check against the most appropriate species list below to be sure of a good match. Alternatively, if you know a local meadow with appropriate species, and you can organise either green hay or brush-harvesting, or even hand collecting ripe seed of specific species, this would be even better.

Choosing your species

field full of variety of flowers in pink, yellow purple

To help you on your meadow-making journey, we have made these lists as a starting point for creating or restoring grassland in a typical species-poor or species-moderate grassland scenario.

Please note that these are not definitive lists, and different sites and situations may require a more bespoke approach. If your grassland is outside of the ‘norm’ such as within a national park or AONB – then contact us for a more bespoke guidance on seed-mixes which will reflect the site’s regional distinctiveness.

For example, a pH neutral hay meadow in the south west of England won’t have the same community as a neutral hay meadow in the Lake District . We have also left out species which are very geographically specific. So, if you have an unusual site with potential to support a rare habitat, then contact us for more bespoke list.

These lists divide the species into Groups 1, 2 and 3, in order of their fussiness to levels of fertility and difficulty establishing from seed-introduction.

  • Group 1 – fertility-tolerant and easy to establish from seed
  • Group 2 – moderate fertility, moderate colonisers from seed
  • Group 3 – poor colonisers, sensitive and poor soils only, may need introducing via established plugs

No quantities have been outlined in the lists below because seed providers should be able to provide this detail, or already have this outlined in their meadow-mixes. In general, however, grassland communities will be between 50-80% grass, and those with high fertility will usually settle into a higher percentage content of the grass species.

Species lists for different grassland types

pH Neutral grassland 5-6.5

  • Group 1

    • Black/Common KnapweedCentaurea nigra 
    • Burnet SaxifragePimpinella saxifrage 
    • Common Birds-foot TrefoilLotus corniculatus 
    • Meadow Vetchling – Lathyrus pratensis 
    • Ox-eye DaisyLeucanthemum vulgare 
    • Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus 
    • Bulbous ButtercupRanunculus bulbosus 
    • Common Cat’s-earHypochaeris radicata 
    • Common SorrelRumex acetosa 
    • Lesser TrefoilTrifolium dubium 
    • Ribwort PlantainPlantago lanceolata 
    • Meadow ButtercupRanunculus acris 
    • Red Clover (native variety)Trifolium pratense var pratense 
    • SelfhealPrunella vulgaris
    • YarrowAchillea millifolium 
    • Wild Carrot – Daucus carota 
    • Germander SpeedwellVeronica chamaedrys 
    • Black MedickMedicago lupilina 

     

  • Group 2

    • Autumn HawkbitScorzoneroides autumnalis 
    • Goat’s-beardTragopogon pratensis 
    • Musk MallowMalva moschata 
    • AgrimonyAgrimony eupatoria 
    • CowslipPrimula veris 
    • Lady’s BedstrawGallium verum 
    • Salad BurnetPoterium sanguisorba 
    • Yellow RattleRhinanthus minor 
    • BugleAjuga reptans 
    • Tufted Vetch – Viccia cracca 
    • Eyebright sp – Euphrasia sp. 
    • Common Milkwort – Polygala vulgaris 
    • TormentilPotentilla erecta 
    • PignutConopodium majus 

     

  • Group 3

    • Betony – Stachys officinalis
    • Common Spotted-orchidDactylohiza fuchsii (If more alkaline)
    • Bee Orchid – Ophrys apifera 
    • Pyramidal OrchidAnacamptis pyramidalis (If more alkaline)
    • Dyer’s GreenweedGenista tinctoria 
    • Wood AnemoneAnemone nemorosa 
    • Field ScabiousKnautia arvensis 

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if absent):

      • Yellow Oat-grass – Trisetum flavescens
      • Smooth Meadow-grassPoa pratensis 
      • Meadow FoxtailAlopecurus pratensis 
      • Smaller Cat’s-tailPhleum bertolonii 
    Grasses (additional) if bare soil:

      • Yorkshire-fogHolcus lanatus 
      • Red FescueFestuca rubra 
      • Crested Dog’s-tailCynoscurus cristatus 
      • Common BentAgrostis capillaris 
      • Sweet Vernal-grassAnthoxanthum odoratum 
      • Meadow BarleyHordeum secalinum 

Wetter soils/floodplain (neutral pH 5-6.5)

  • Group 1

    • Ragged RobinSilene flos-cuculi 
    • CuckooflowerCardamine pratensis 
    • Great BurnetSanguisorba officinalis 
    • Greater Bird’s-foot TrefoilLotus pedunculatus 
    • Common SorrelRumex acetosa 
    • Lesser TrefoilTrifolium dubium 
    • AngelicaAngelica sylvestris 
    • Ribwort PlantainPlantago lanceolata 
    • Meadow ButtercupRanunculus acris 
    • Red Clover (native variety)Trifolium pratense var pratense 
    • Common FleabanePulicaria dysenterica 

     

  • Group 2

    • MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmaria 
    • Marsh/Fen BedstrawGallium uliginosum 
    • Water MintMentha aquatica 
    • Common BistortBistorta officinalis 
    • Common Meadow-rueThalictrum flavum 
    • Pepper SaxifrageSilaum silaus 
    • SneezewortAchillea ptarmica 
    • Creeping JennyLysimachia nummularia
    • Water AvensGeum rivale 
    • Narrow-leaved Water-dropwortOenanthe silaifolia 
    • Tufted VetchViccia cracca 
    • Marsh MarigoldCaltha palustris 

     

  • Group 3

    • Devil’s-bit ScabiousSuccisa pratensis 
    • Saw-wortSerratula tinctorium 
    • BetonyStachys officinalis 
    • Marsh SpeedwellVeronica scutellata 
    • Marsh ValerianValeriana dioica 
    • Southern Marsh OrchidDactylorhiza praetermissa (where more alkaline)

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if not present):

    • Meadow FoxtailAlopecurus pratensis 
    • Sweet Vernal-grass  – Anthoxanthum odoratum 
    • Marsh FoxtailAlopecurus geniculatus 
    • Crested Dog’s-tailCynosurus cristatus 
    Grasses (additional) if bare soil:

    • Creeping BentAgrostis stolonifera 
    • Yorkshire-fogHolcus lanatus 
    • Red FescueFestuca rubra agg. 

Lowland acidic grassland (pH < 5.5)

  • Group 1

    • Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus 
    • Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus 
    • Field WoodrushLuzula campestris 
    Where mildly acidic:

    • Common Cat’s-earHypochaeris radicata 
    • Lesser TrefoilTrifolium dubium 
    • Ribwort PlantainPlantago lanceolata 
    • SelfhealPrunella vulgaris 
    • YarrowAchillea millifolium 
    • Black MedickMedicago lupilina 

     

  • Group 2

    • Sheep’s SorrelRumex acetosella 
    • Heather/Ling  – Calluna vulgaris 
    • Heath BedstrawGallium saxatile 
    • Lady’s Bedstraw (on mild acid)Gallium verum 
    • Lesser StitchwortStellaria graminea 
    • Bell HeatherErica cinerea
    • Common Bird’s-footOrnithopus perpusillus 
    • Common CentauryCentaurium erythraea 
    • Common Stork’s-billErodium cicutarium 
    • Heath MilkwortPolygala serpyllfolia 
    • Mouse-ear HawkweedPilosella officinarum 
    • TormentilPotentilla erecta 
    • Common Dog-violetViola reichenbechiana 
    • Heath VioletViola canina 
    • Autumn HawkbitScorzoneroides autumnalis (where mildly acidic)
    • PignutConopodium majus 

     

  • Group 3

    • Betony – Betonica officinalis
    • Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis
    • Heath Spotted-orchidDactylorhiza maculata 
    • Wild ThymeThymus polytrichus 
    • Blue FleabaneErigeron acer 
    • Wood AnemoneAnemone nemorosa 
    • HarebellCampanula rotundifolia 
    • Heath Speedwell (on anthills)Veronica officinalis 
    • Field ScabiousKnautia arvensis 
    • Bitter-vetchLathyrus linifolius 
    • Lesser HawkbitLeontodon saxatilis 
    • Biting StonecropSedum acre 
    • LousewortPedicularis sylvatica 
    • Saw-wortSerratula tinctoria 
    • Wood SageTeucrium scorodonia 
    • Sheep’s-bitJasione montana 

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if absent):

    • Sweet Vernal-grassAnthoxanthum odoratum 
    • Common BentAgrostis capillaris 
    • Red FescueFestuca rubra 
    • Sheep’s FescueFestuca ovina 
    • Wavy Hair-grassDeschampsia flexuosa 
    • Squirrel-tail FescueVulpia bromoides 
     

    • Early Hair-grassAira praecox 
    • Silver Hair-grassAira caryophyllea 
    • Heath GrassDanthonia decumbens 
    • Fine-leaved Sheep’s fescueFestuca filiformis 
    • Velvet Bent (where damp)Agrostis canina  
    • Brown BentAgrostis vinealis 

Lowland Calcareous pH > 6.5

  • Group 1

    • Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus 
    • Oxeye DaisyLeucanthemum vulgare 
    • Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus
    • Kidney VetchAnthyllis vulneraria 
    • Chalk KnapweedCentaurea debeauxii 

    Where mildly alkaline:

    • Bulbous ButtercupRanunculus bulbosus 
    • Common Cat’s-earHypochaeris radicata 
    • Common SorrelRumex acetosa 
    • Lesser TrefoilTrifolium dubium 
    • Ribwort PlantainPlantago lanceolata 
    • Red Clover (native variety)Trifolium pratense var pratense 
    • SelfhealPrunella vulgaris 
    • YarrowAchillea millifolium 
    • Germander SpeedwellVeronica chamaedrys
    • Black MedickMedicago lupilina 

     

  • Group 2

    • CowslipPrimula veris
    • Autumn HawkbitScorzoneroides autumnalis (where mildly alkaline)
    • Tufted VetchViccia cracca (where mildly alkaline)
    • Dwarf Thistle – Cirsium acaule 
    • Lady’s BedstrawGallium verum 
    • Sainfoin – Onobrychis viciifolia 
    • Salad BurnetPoterium sanguisorba 
    • Carline Thistle (s-facing)Carlina vulgaris  
    • Yellow RattleRhinanthus minor 
    • Common Centaury (well-drained)Centaurium erythraea 
    • Bladder Campion  – Silene vulgaris 
    • Common Stork’s-billErodium cicutarium 
    • Mouse-ear HawkweedPilosella officinarum 
    • Thyme-leaved SandwortArenaria serpyllifolia 
    • Wild Basil (southern UK)Clinopodium vulgare 
    • MarjoramOriganum vulgare 
    • Yellow-wortBlackstonia perfoliate 

     

  • Group 2 or 3

    • EyebrightsEuphrasia officinalis agg. 
    • Autumn GentianGentianella amarella 
    • English Gentian (only in south and midlands)Gentianella anglica 
    • Common MilkwortPolygala vulgaris 
    • Saw-wortSerratula tinctorium 
    • SquinancywortAsperula cynanchica 
    • Lesser HawkbitLeontodon saxatilis
    • Common Restharrow 
    • Wild Strawberry 

     

  • Group 3

    • Field ScabiousKnautia arvensis  
    • BetonyStachys officinalis
    • Clustered Bellflower 
    • Common Rock-roseHelianthemum nummularium 
    • Devil’s-bit ScabiousSuccisa pratensis 
    • Common Spotted-orchidDactylohiza fuchsii 
    • Pyramidal OrchidAnacamptis pyramidalis
    • Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera 
    • DropwortFilipendula vulgaris 
    • Fairy FlaxLinum catharticum 
    • Greater Knapweed 
    • Hairy Violet 
    • HarebellCampanula rotundifolia 
    • Hoary PlantainPlantago 
    • Horseshoe Vetch 
    • Small ScabiousScabiosa columbaria 
    • Wild ThymeThymus polytrichus 
    • Large ThymeThymus pulegioides 
    • Biting StonecropSedum acre 
    • Bloody Crane’s-bill 
    • Common MilkwortPolygala vulgaris 
    • Chalk Milkwort 

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if absent):

    • Upright Brome – Bromopsis erecta 
    • Crested Dog’s-tailCynosurus cristatus 
    • Red FescueFestuca rubra agg. 
    • Downy Oat-grassHelictotrichon pubescens 
    • Meadow Oat-grassHelictotrichon pratense 
    • Yellow Oat-grassTrisetum flavescens
    • Narrow-leaved Meadow-grassPoa angustifolia 
    • Quaking-grassBriza media 
    • Crested Hair-grassKoeleria macrantha 
    • Yellow Oat-grassTrisetum flavescens 
    • Sheep’s FescueFestuca ovina 

Upland habitats – all those grasslands which are above approximately 250m (sea level). If close to 250m and somewhat sheltered, the above lowland species may also thrive.

Upland calcareous pH > 6.5

  • Group 1

    • Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus 
    • Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus

     

  • Group 2

     

    • Salad BurnetPoterium sanguisorba 
    • Carline Thistle (s-facing)Carlina vulgaris 
    • Mouse-ear HawkweedPilosella officinarum 

     

  • Group 2 or 3

    • EyebrightsEuphrasia officinalis agg. 
    • Autumn GentianGentianella amarella 
    • SquinancywortAsperula cynanchica 

     

  • Group 3

    • Common Rock-roseHelianthemum nummularium 
    • DropwortFilipendula vulgaris 
    • Devil’s-bit ScabiousSuccisa pratensis 
    • Fairy FlaxLinum catharticum 
     

    • HarebellCampanula rotundifolia 
    • Wild ThymeThymus polytrichus 
    • Small Scabious Scabiosa columbaria 
    • Horseshoe VetchHippocrepis comosa 

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if absent):

    • Upright Brome – Bromopsis erecta 
    • Crested Dog’s-tailCynosurus cristatus 
    • Red FescueFestuca rubra agg. 
    • Downy Oat-grassHelictotrichon pubescens 
    • Meadow Oat-grassHelictotrichon pratense 
    • Yellow Oat-grassTrisetum flavescens
    • Narrow-leaved Meadow-grassPoa angustifolia 
    • Quaking-grassBriza media 
    • Crested Hair-grassKoeleria macrantha 
    • Sheep’s FescueFestuca ovina 

Upland acid pH < 5.5

  • Group 1

    • Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus 
    • Field Woodrush – Luzula campestris 
    • Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus

     

  • Group 2

     

    • Sheep’s Sorrel – Rumex acetosella 
    • Heath BedstrawGallium saxatile 
    • Heather/LingCalluna vulgaris 
    • TormentilPotentilla erecta (group 2 or 3)

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if absent):

    • Sweet Vernal-grassAnthoxanthum odoratum 
    • Common BentAgrostis capillaris 
    • Sheep’s FescueFestuca ovina 
    • Wavy Hair-grassDeschampsia flexuosa 
    • Yorkshire-fogHolcus lanatus 
    • Fine-leaved Sheep’s Fescue  – Festuca filiformis  
    • Velvet Bent (where damp)Agrostis canina 
    • Brown BentAgrostis vinealis 
    • Squirrel-tail FescueVulpia bromoides 
    • Early HairgrassAira praecox 
    • Silver Hair-grassAira caryophyllea 
    • Heath Grass Danthonia decumbens 

Upland hay meadows pH neutral 5 – 6.5

  • Group 1

    • Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil – Lotus corniculatus 
    • Black/common KnapweedCentaurea nigra 
    • Burnet SaxifragePimpinella saxifrage 
    • Great Burnet Sanguisorba officinalis 
    • Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus
    • Ragged RobinSilene flos-cuculi 
    • Meadow VetchlingLathyrus pratensis 
    • Autumn HawkbitScorzoneroides autumnalis (group 1 or 2)

     

  • Group 2

     

    • BugleAjuga reptans 
    • MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmaria 
    • Lady’s MantlesAlchemilla sp. 
    • Marsh MarigoldCaltha palustris 
    • SneezewortAchillea ptarmica
    • Water AvensGeum rivale 
    • Common BistortBistorta officinalis 

     

     

  • Group 2 or 3

    • EyebrightsEuphrasia officinalis agg. 
    • TormentilPotentilla erecta
    • PignutConopodium majus 
    • Saw-wortSerratula tinctorium 
    • Yellow RattleRhinanthus minor 

     

  • Group 3

     

    • Devil’s-bit ScabiousSuccisa pratensis 
    • Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa 
     

    • Wood Crane’s-bill 
    • Meloncholy ThistleCirsium heterophyllum  

     

  • All these grasses can be introduced as seed (as per Group 1)

    Grasses to introduce (if absent):

     

    • Yellow Oat-grassTrisetum flavescens
    • Smooth Meadow-grassPoa pratensis 
    • Yorkshire-fogHolcus lanatus 
    • Crested Dog’s-tailCynosurus cristatus 
    • Red FescueFestuca rubra agg. 
     

    • Common Bent – Agrostis capillaris 
    • Sweet Vernal-grassAnthoxanthum odoratum 
    • Meadow BarleyHordeum secalinum 
My Meadow Story: Making a Meadow in Rural Wales 
A meadow filled with wildflowers in Carmathenshire, Wales

My Meadow Story: Making a Meadow in Rural Wales 

Ever wondered how biodiverse meadows are made? Plantlife volunteers Andrew and Helen tell us about their own meadow story in Carmarthenshire.

The Wildlife in our Meadows
Duke of Burgundy butterfly on cowslip.

The Wildlife in our Meadows

From bumblebees to birds and moths to mammals – meadows are micro-cities of wildlife. Here's what to spot in your wildflower meadow.

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow
Wildflower meadow landscape with a variety of species near Cardiff, Wales

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow

Whether it’s your back garden, local park, community field or lawn, wildflower meadows are amazing spaces with so much to offer.

How to Start a Community Meadow?

How to Start a Community Meadow?

Want to start a community meadow, but not sure where to begin? Read our guide to creating a flower-filled haven for your local community.

  • Go to:

What’s a lichen?

Step 1.

Even though we can find lichens in most places we go, lots of us have never really noticed them and don’t know what they are.  

Have a go at our What’s a lichen? activity to learn everything you need to know about them. 

 

Have a go at our activity

Step 2.

Now you know what a lichen is, can you tell lichens apart from other living things?

Take a look at the activity sheet and see if you can Spot the lichen. 

 

Download and print Spot the lichen sheet

Scroll down for even more lichen activities!

Lichens are all around us!

Step 1.

Lichens can grow almost anywhere… they could even be right on your doorstep! 

Find out more about where lichens grow through our online activity – you might be surprised at where you can find them! 

 

Have a go at our activity

Step 2.

Even in busy places, full of people and cars, you’ll be able to spot lichens. They could be anywhere, from playparks and pavements, to graveyards and post boxes. 

Now you know some of the places you might find lichens growing its time to see if you can find some. Go on your own Lichen Hunt to see where you can find them in your local area.  

 

Download and print the Lichen Hunt sheet

Activity Sheets

How to spot it

A tall, strong smelling, hairy plant with a ridged stem. Oval toothed leaves with yellow umbrella shaped flowers.

Other Species

Which seed should I use?
A wildflower meadow with yellow, white, purple flowers in among the grass. The meadow is in Ryewater, Dorset. Image is by Jo Costley.

Which seed should I use?

Whether you're creating a meadow from scratch or introducing more wildflowers and grasses into grassland, our species lists are here to guide you.

Monmouthshire County Council – Road Verges and Green Spaces

Monmouthshire County Council – Road Verges and Green Spaces

How Cut and Collect Save Council Cost – Dorset

 

 

How Cut and Collect Save Council Cost – Dorset

Dorset Council saved their mowing bill by 45% within 5 years

Often found in parks, banks and lawns – any type of grassland habitat – White Clover is the commonest of the clovers.

The White Clover flowerheads are ball-shaped cluster on a long stem, made up of tiny individual white and sometimes very pale pink flowers. The leaves have the archetypal ‘cloverleaf’ shape: three rounded leaflets often with a pale band.

Distribution

Common across the UK.

Habitat

Almost any grassy habitat.

Best time to see

Flowers from June to September.

Did you know?

  • Vernacular names include Milky blobs, Sheepy-maa’s and Bee-bread. The latter name “Bee-bread” derives from the fact that the white flowers can be pulled out of the heads and sucked for a bead of honey.
  • Four- and, even better, five-leaved clovers are considered lucky, though ideally you must come across them accidentally. They were pressed and used as bookmarks in prayer books in parts of Buckinghamshire.

Other Species

How Cut and Collect Save Council Cost – Dorset

 

 

How Cut and Collect Save Council Cost – Dorset

Dorset Council saved their mowing bill by 45% within 5 years

Let’s learn about… Lichens

Let’s learn about… Lichens

Learn more about lichens with easy to follow interactive activities and printable spotter sheets and scavenger hunts.

Managing Road Verges
Close up of wildflowers taken on verge with a road in the distance.

Managing Road Verges

Our road verges have the potential to act as a sanctuary for wildflowers and a network of connective corridors across the UK. By unlocking their potential, road verges and greenspaces have an important part to play in natures recovery, whilst enhancing carbon storage, saving public money, and producing resources from waste products.