Natives and Wildflowers
As we approach the subject of natives and wildflowers for this e-newsletter, we realize there are many opinions on what is truly a native so our approach in today's newsletter is to combine several definitions definitions from reliable sources. As for wildflowers, simply put, all wildflowers were natives to a specific geographic region at one time.
A native plant is one that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention.
A native plant is any species of flower that occurs naturally in a particular region or ecosystem and has not been hybridized or genetically modified... (Applewood)
The first thing a home gardener might ask is "Why use natives or wildflowers?" Research shows there are several great reasons to explore this option so a partial. but important, list is:
1) Natives are better for the environment as they require less watering and feeding.
2) Our wildlife, most notably, birds, butterflies and bees, depend on natives for habitat and food.
3) Native grasses protect from soil erosion and require less mowing and other maintenance.
4) Presevation of biodiversity means a preservation of species.
Applewood Seed of Arvada, Colorado, is a wholesale supplier of wildflower seed, garden flower seed, native grasses and herb seeds.
ESP Seeds is another wholesale supplier of wildflower seeds and offers a number of region-specific mixes.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website has an excellent library of recommended wildflowers by state and region as well as special collections.
The National Wildlife Federation also has a list of top 10 native plants by region.
NGB members offering wholesale sales only:
Wild West Seeds has a selectionlll
The Seed Den offers both regional wildflower mixes and special use mixes such as "low grow"or "cut flowers".
Botanical Interests has packets of North America natives....
Johnny's Selected Seed offers seven different products and mixes of wildflower seed.
Park Seed has forty-three items available as wildflower seeds.
Rupp Seeds offers a conservation division with both native grasses and wildflower seeds.
A few notes of caution: please be informed when buying natives. Today's garden centers are much better than in the past but unknowingly, some retailers offer "natives" that might be invasive if brought to a new geographic area. And, gardening with natives and wildflowers is different that the annuals you might be used to buying in flats. Think "cottage garden" and "natural prairie" rather than formal structure when envisioning the look of natives in your garden. Resist the urge to, for example, bring poppies native to California to your Maine garden as you will be disappointed with the results. The whole idea behind native gardenign is to use the plants originally found on your soils hundreds of years ago before development began.
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