Category Archives: Native Plants

Echinacea – Collect – Dissect – Plant

Now is a good time to collect echinacea seed heads from the garden. I usually keep two inches of stem that I can hold onto later.

The seeds are the white segments in the picture. I wear gloves and use needle nose pliers to pry the seeds out.

It’s easy to do the math and see that one seed head can give you a 100 seeds and thus 100 new plants in the spring.

I’ve had equal success planting the seeds either in the fall or early spring. I cover the seeds with a bit of potting mix to mark the location.

You probably won’t get flowers the first year, but you will get lots of flowers the 2nd year.

2nd Year Plants

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Filed under Native Plants, Perennials

August Soil Preparation

If you’re contemplating putting in a native seed flower bed in late fall, August is a good time to get the soil ready.

Your main job is to get rid of all the grass and weeds and have a clean area without any vegetation.
Don’t till as that will bring up weed seeds.

I’d loosen up the top 1/2″ of soil and keep the area moist to encourage any weed seeds to germinate now before the growing season.

In St. Louis, Scott Woodbury our resident expert, suggests advice from Merv Wallace…
“Merv recommends one ounce of seed mix per 400-500 square feet and 3 grams per 20 square feet.
With your 4 grams, you are looking at around 25 sq ft.”


Sow the seeds on the surface in December.

I’d suggest mixing the seed with either play sand or potting mix. It makes for better disbursement when you throw the seeds out.
Don’t mix into the soil or cover with straw.
Just let the seeds sit on the surface.
Winter frost heave will move the seeds into the upper layer of the soil to the perfect depth.
Seeds will sprout in early April.

Native plants don’t need fertilizer, but might need watering during the first year.

Note – I like to cover my seeds with a light dusting of potting mix to hide them from the birds.

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Filed under Native Plants, soil, Uncategorized

Free Native Plant Classes – Virtual Library

Tiger Swallowtail on Joe Pye Weed

All programs are virtual and FREE, but advance registration is required.
Space is limited, so don’t delay!

Note – you don’t need a library card, just your email.

To register: go to www.slcl.org,
click Events & Classes, Adult Programs, and Search by title or date.
Tip – Search using the word native to find all these classes


A Journey of Transformationto Native Plant Gardening
Presented by Sue Leahy,
Wild Ones
Wednesday March 10 – 2:00pm


Introduction to Native Landscaping for Wildlife & People
Presented by Dave Tylka,
St. Louis Audubon Society
Friday March 12 – 2:00pm


Invasive? Native? Exotic?
An Eco-Logical View of Plants

Presented by “Green Jean” Ponzi,
Missouri Botanical Garden
Monday March 22 – 7:00pm

Native Plant Gardening for Pollinators
Presented by Ed Spevak,
Saint Louis Zoo
Monday March 29 – 2:00pm

Challenges with Native Landscaping Practices & Plants
Presented by Scott Woodbury,
Shaw Nature Reserve
Wednesday March 31 – 2:00pm

(Note – you can’t signup for April classes until March 1st.)


Native Plant Gardening for Birds
Presented by Mitch Leachman,
St. Louis Audubon Society
Monday April 5 at 7pm

Gardening with Native Shrubs & Trees
Presented by James Faupel,
Litzsinger Road Ecology Center
Monday April 19 at 7:00pm

Rainscaping with Native Plants
Presented by Cody Hayo, Pretty City
Gardens & Landscaping and Rob Kennedy,
Missouri Botanical Garden
Monday April 26 – 7:00pm

Growing a Culture for Native Plants
Presented by “Green Jean” Ponzi,
Missouri Botanical Garden
Tuesday May 4 at 7:00pm
The Partners for Native Landscaping
Spring Seminar Series


Descriptions are below.

A Journey of Transformation of Native Plant Gardening
Presented by Sue Leahy, Wild Ones

Wednesday, March 10 at 2 p.m.

Sue will take you through her experience in 12 years of native plant gardening. She’ll talk about some of the revelations that encouraged native planting and mistakes that were made (& corrected). She will share some of the things that inspired her to plant more natives and share photos of the ongoing development of her yard into a wildlife habitat. She will share basic design elements that keep her yard from looking too “wild” and talk about basic maintenance tips.

Introduction to Native Landscaping for Wildlife & People
Presented by Dave Tylka, St. Louis Audubon Society
Friday, March 12 at 2 pm

Urban landscapes are key to creating and restoring natural habitats for birds, bees and butterflies. Native landscaping around your home not only helps wildlife, but provides you a healthy, pesticide-free and inspiring space to enjoy. This presentation describes basic approaches to native landscaping, highlighting useful ideas, tools and resources for gardeners.

Invasive? Native? Exotic? An Eco-Logical View of Plants
Presented by “Green Jean” Ponzi, Missouri Botanical Garden

Monday, March 22 at 7 pm

Jean Ponzi of the EarthWays Center invites you to meet some WILD-ly wonderful native plants. Learn how plant choices matter to birds, bugs and people, when “pretty” is not your best choice – and why some good-looking plants go bad.

Native Plant Gardening for Pollinators
Presented by Ed Spevak, Saint Louis Zoo

Monday, March 29 at 2 pm

Learn about creating a native plant garden for pollinators, especially native bees and butterflies. Butterfly caterpillar food, host plants, will be covered as well as nectar plants for both adult butterflies and a variety of bees. Nesting sites for native bees and other pollinator friendly garden practices will be included. Local resources will also be highlighted.

Challenges with Native Landscaping Practices & Plants
Presented by Scott Woodbury, Shaw Nature Reserve

Wednesday, March 31 @ 2 pm

This program will cover a variety of common issues faced by native plant gardeners like: how to mix native and non-native plants; how many native plants to use; the ‘weediness’ of native plants; how to use garden design to avoid ‘conflict’ with your neighbors; tips on specific plants like witch hazel, garden phlox, beauty berry and pawpaw. In addition to answers to these issues, local resources will also be highlighted.

Native Plant Gardening for Birds
Presented by Mitch Leachman, St. Louis Audubon Society

Monday, April 5 at 7 pm

Learn how songbirds and hummingbirds can be attracted to residential yards through the use of native plants that furnish insects, seeds, flowers, and fruits. Specific examples of the most versatile and adaptable native woody and herbaceous plants will be included as well as simple gardening practices essential for birds. A brief review of local resources to help you will be included.

Gardening with Native Shrubs & Trees
Presented by James Faupel, Litzsinger Road Ecology Center

Monday, April 19 at 7 pm

Missouri’s native woody plants play a critical role in our ecosystem. They can also be very beautiful in the landscape. Shade and intimacy, structure and beauty… come on a journey of Missouri’s native trees and shrubs, learn their habits and practical growing advice. A brief review of local resources to help you will be included.

Rainscaping with Native Plants
Presented by Cody Hayo, Pretty City Gardens & Landscaping and Rob Kennedy, Missouri Botanical Garden

Monday, April 26 at 7 pm

Learn the do’s and don’ts of rain garden basics from deciding on a proper site, to size, design, construction, and maintenance. We’ll walk through the process of building a basic rain garden using your existing site and soil conditions by following MOBOT’s Rainscaping Guide flowchart. Resources will be covered, including the MSD Project Clear Small Grant program.

Growing a Culture for Native Plants
Presented by “Green Jean” Ponzi, Missouri Botanical Garden

Tuesday, May 4 at 7 pm

BiodiverseCity St. Louis, our bi-state network of over 100 organizations, proudly celebrates the ecological landscaping movement thriving across this region. Learn how you can join with native plant advocates, professional, artists and pollinators of all kinds to enjoy and work with Nature for mutual blooming benefits.

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Grow Native Resource Guide

Here’s the link to download the 2021 Grow Native Resource Guide.

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Native Plantings with the Pros

After watching videos of native plantings with a couple of experts, Scott Woodbury and Ronda Burnett, I thought I’d share a few of their thoughts.

Small Plants
They both plant with plugs, which makes it a lot easier to plant. I’ve never seen plugs for sale in a retail setting, but MoWildflowers.net has smallish pots – 2.5″ x 2.5″ x3.5″

You can create your own plug-size plants using a 1020 tray and 72 cell inserts.

1020 Tray with 72 cell inserts

You can then use a “dibber” to make a hole.


I normally use my drill auger to create holes. If you use a drill, make sure you get one which allows you to adjust the torque. This makes it quite easy to create a hole and have friable dirt to fill it back in.

Another option I have used in the past when the soil was more like potters clay, was to use a large bulb planter. I would take out the clay, put in the plant and fill with dirt/compost.

Plant Spacing
For natural looking areas, Scott spaces plants 7″ apart and the rows are 6″ apart. He puts in 30 plants in a 3′ x 3′ area. It’s interesting that in my home garden setting, a New England Aster could easily take over a 3′ x 3′ area by itself. Planting close together prevents plants from getting so large. Ronda planted 18″ apart in the garden in her presentation.

Area Weed Removal
Killing weeds and unwanted plants ahead of time is very important. This may take weeks or months. One no-till option is to remove all the top growth and then cover the area with cardboard and a layer of compost. Let the weeds die naturally over time. Most large areas will require a herbicide and will probably need more than one application.

No Soil Preparation
There is no tilling or disturbance of the soil. They also don’t add any amendments to the soil. Even if the soil is quite poor, they just use the soil that is there. Ronda doesn’t add any Mycorrhizae.

Watering
While native plants do develop deep roots, the first two seasons, the area is watered with hoses.

Mulch
Mulch is added after planting to reduce weed seeds from germinating. Scott’s close planting doesn’t need mulch later on, but leaves leaf and plant litter on the soil.

Below are the two videos I used as reference. They have a lot of great information.

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Native Shade Plants

Whitecliff Garden – Crestwood, MO

Here’s a list of native plants which I have grown and do well in shade.

  1. Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) space 12″ – fills in well.
  2. Mertensia virginica – Virginia Bluebells. These die back, so put in other plants next to them to fill in.
  3. Packera obovata – Roundleaf Groundsel. After blooming, they make a nice ground cover.
  4. Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower.
  5. Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
  6. Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
  7. Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)
  8. Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  9. Wild Sweet William (Phlox divaricata)
  10. Bee Balm (Monarda bradburiana)
  11. Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
  12. Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)

Note – MoWildflowers.net list a number of other plants for Mild Shade which you might want to try.

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Late Summer Echinacea

While mid-June is the standard time my echinacea starts blooming, it has occurred to me that I might be able to delay some of my blooms into September.

June 15th

In one of my gardens. the rabbits took a liking to my echinacea and kept it small, broken and trimmed up over the early summer. The result is that the echinacea is finally blooming as of August 29th.

August 29th

It occurs to me that I can do the same thing that the rabbits did and trim half of my echinacea in mid-May. The trick is to have some echinacea blooming all through the summer and into the fall.

I’ve got this marked on my calendar for May 18th. Hopefully, I’ll report positive results next year.

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Maintaining Native Landscapes

If you’re interested in using native plants for your butterfly garden, Scott Woodbury shares his years of experience in this video.

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Native Garden Seminar

June 3, 2020 – 4 pm Central Time

Register at the link below.

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rLhhVSqLTb-gwY892a2lgA

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March 1st Echinacea Planting

Approximately 50 echinacea seedlings from seed I collected and planted on March 1st. The moral is, don’t throw away your old echinacea seeds as you cleanup the garden in early spring. The voles frequently decimate my echinacea roots, so I constantly need to renew them.

Seed pods I collected on March 1st

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Filed under Native Plants, Nectar Plant, Plant Propagation