Rhinathus minor – Yellow Rattle X 1 gram (approx)
A fascinating native wild flower much used in improving and turning grassland back to traditional meadow where its semi parasitic roots feed on the roots of nearby grasses reducing their growth and vigour by as much as 60% making space for more delicate traditional wild species to flourish.
Can be tricky to get going initially so it’s worth looking at the plants lifecycle and germination requirements in a bit of detail to get things right first time. Once you have a few plants going successfully they should happily self-seed and multiply in situ over the coming seasons without you having to do too much. (That’s the theory!)
Rhinanthis minor is a hardy annual which means that it completes its lifecycle in one year. To germinate well the seeds do a lot better after a period of cold (winter!) They also do better when sown onto a prepared area that has been raked clear of too many competing grasses and other plants, the seeds need to be in contact with the soil to germinate.
We recommend sowing the seeds on a prepared area of ground where they are to grow in autumn, late November being the latest time to sow ideally. The seeds will remain completely dormant until April when -seedlings begin to emerge. Growth is then super fast with flowers appearing in June and July. Pollination is by insects, usually bumblebees and the seeds begin to set and ripen through July and August. As the seed pods ripen they turn brown and a distinctive rattle can be heard when they are fully dry. Farmers traditionally used this sound as an indication that hay was ready for cutting.
If you miss the window for outdoor Autumn sowing we would recommend mixing the seed with a little dampened vermiculite, perlite or good clean compost, seal in a plastic bag or container and place in the salad drawer of the fridge for at least 6 weeks (8-12 is better) then sow under gentle heat (15-18C) grow on and plant out once large enough to handle (harden off first)
These seeds can be mixed with other native wild flower seeds to create a lovely natural wildlife friendly part of the garden. We are introducing our own Yellow Rattle plants onto a problem twitch infested area patch of ground.