Yellow Rattle gets its descriptive name as it produces spiky yellow flowers when blooming. Then later in the year when the plants have gone to seed, the seeds can be heard rattling inside the seed pods when the wind blows! It is a plant that is native to Ireland. It grows up to 50 cm in height.
Yellow Rattle seeds are available here.
Why is it popular?
Yellow Rattle is a hemiparasitic plant, meaning it gets some of the energy it needs to grow from other plants. It takes energy mainly from grasses. Because of this, when yellow rattle is present in grassland, it reduces the vigour of the grasses, as Yellow Rattle is stealing energy directly from these plants!
For this reason, Yellow Rattle is useful when trying to establish a wildflower meadow. As the vigour of grasses will be reduced by the presence of Yellow Rattle, meaning wildflowers will have a better chance of establishing and not being crowded out by grass. Restricting grass growth and allowing other plant species to thrive increases biodiversity.
When to sow it?
Yellow Rattle seed needs to be sown directly into the ground in Autumn/Early Winter so the seeds are exposed to a period of cold over Winter. This helps them germinate the following Spring. Seed sown in Spring generally germinates badly due to the lack of cold exposure.
How to sow it?
Yellow Rattle seed can be sown directly into bare ground where it is to grow. Prepare the area by loosening and breaking up the soil. Spread the seeds thinly into the prepared area and cover lightly with soil.
If Yellow Rattle seed is being sown in already established grassland, the grass will need to be scalped down to its crown, and the area scarified to produce open ground within the grass sward where Yellow Rattle seed can be sown into.
Sow the seeds into the scalped/scarified grass area and rake in the seeds to make sure there is good seed to soil contact.
Yellow rattle seed will germinate the following Spring after it has been exposed to cold over Winter.
Once it has germinated, do not cut the area where it is growing. It grows upright and will not tolerate mowing. Avoiding mowing the area will help to make sure that the plants flower and reach maturity and its full benefit is utilised.
Yellow Rattle is an annual plant, meaning that once the plants die off, they will not come back the following year. However, if allowed, it will self seed itself. This happens once the plants are allowed to reach full maturity and produce seeds.
Once the flowers are pollinated, they begin to die and start to produce seeds. If left alone, the seeds will disperse from the plants naturally and a certain amount of them will find a spot in the ground to hibernate for the Winter and then germinate the following Spring. So even though the plant's life cycle is one year, new plants should continue to grow year after year.
To make sure the plants have the best chance to come back each year. Do not cut the flower meadow until late in the year when the flowers have dispersed their seeds. If cut too early, the seeds won’t have a chance to mature and disperse.
The Yellow Rattle seed available on our website is harvested in Ireland. It is not certified organic but it is grown completely naturally without any inputs. The seed is not 100% pure, there is an odd grass seed that is mixed in with them as can be seen in the picture below. Yellow Rattle seeds usually sell out before Christmas and are not available until the following August/September.
Yellow Rattle seed is available here.