How To Plant Yellow Rattle Plugs

Establishing Yellow Rattle in a MeadowYellow Rattle

Planting yellow rattle plugs is a good way to introduce this very beneficial species to your meadow or wildflower space.

This pretty annual species is vital in helping establish and maintain the species-richness of your meadow.  A hemi-parasitic plant, its roots penetrate the roots of surrounding grasses, drawing water and nutrients from them, thereby reducing their vigour and preventing them from out-competing the wildflower species.  Without yellow rattle, the vigorous grasses in your meadow will soon take over at the expense of the wildflowers.

It is important when establishing a wildflower meadow to build a yellow rattle colony.  It might take a couple of years for numbers to grow to an effective level.

Yellow rattle should be sown in the autumn between late August and November as the seed needs to be exposed to a prolonged period of cold to trigger germination in the spring.

Yellow Rattle Seed

Sow yellow rattle seed in the autumn at about 0.5 grams to the square metre on bare patches of soil in amongst grass.  Either scarify or rake, or remove hand-size patches of grass with a spade or trowel (4 or 5 per square metre) to expose bare soil. Sprinkle a pinch of seed onto each patch. The seed will then be exposed to the cold winter temperatures which will break the dormancy to trigger germination in the spring. Once successfully established you will have to manage the meadow to encourage yellow rattle to return each growing season.

Yellow Rattle Plugs

Establishing yellow rattle from seed can be tricky and planting plug plants in the spring can be a successful alternative. Yellow rattle plug plants are grown in cell trays alongside grasses and are sent out from mid April onwards.

Plant up to five plugs per square metre.  

  • Delay planting if the soil is dry, hard or frozen.
  • Water the plugs before planting.
  • To remove the individual plug plants push them up and out using the hole in the bottom of each cell.
  • Once planted keep the plants watered during their first few weeks. The most common losses are caused by the plugs drying out just after planting.

As an annual, once established they should start to grow quickly.


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