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.
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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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.
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.
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.