Wildflowers Following Nature’s Design

In nature, certain species are found growing together and they form a specific community called a “plant community”. Native plants always grow in association with other native plants to create plant communities that are essentially associations of indigenous species that have evolved over thousands of years and adapted to the specific geography, hydrology and climate of a particular area. The resulting “communities” are really groups of plants that exist together because of the given conditions.

We can use these native plant communities as a prescription from nature in designing our wildflower gardens or landscapes. There are four broad categories of native comprar grama communities here in the Midwest and hundreds of sub categories as we break each of them down into more specific site conditions. It is important to recognize which one of the four categories you would like to create or reconstruct. The four major plant communities of the Midwest are:

Prairies

Savannas

Wetlands

Woodlands

In this article, we are only going to discuss the Prairie sub communities.

Within each of these categories we narrow down our site conditions and begin our design of what native species of wildflowers, grasses and sedges will work best for our site. For instance, if we have an open area that gets full sunlight, we have a perfect opportunity to create a “Prairie”. Within the Prairie Community, we can further break down our site conditions to reflect:

Wet Prairie

Wet-Mesic Prairie

Mesic Prairie

Dry-Mesic Prairie

Dry Prairie

Now this may sound too complicated for the normal gardener but it really isn’t. Here are a few tips to allow you to identify where your site fits in. First of all let’s talk about your soil. You may say that you don’t know anything about soils and that’s o.k. You can still come close to what your soil is like by asking yourself the following questions:

1. When you walk across your site with tennis shoes on, do your feet get wet throughout the growing season? If so, you can bet this is a site for a Wet Prairie Plant Community.

2. Is the ground soggy at times but eventually dries out and then becomes soggy again? This could be a good place to establish your Wet-Mesic Plant Community.

3. Would your site be a good place for a vegetable garden, not too wet, not too dry with fertile rich soil? Here I would select a Mesic-Prairie Plant Community.

4. If you think your site is a little bit on the dry side but not extremely dry, you would choose a Dry-Mesic Plant Community.

5. If your site is really dry and maybe has no topsoil, maybe rocky or sandy I would choose a Dry Prairie Plant Community.

Now, after you have decided which plant community you want to create, here are some examples of wildflowers and grasses to consider for each community:

1. Wet-Prairie Plant Community

Swamp Milkweed

Swamp Aster

Turtlehead

Boneset

Blue Flag Iris

Marsh Blazingstar

Great Blue Lobelia

Monkey Flower

Mountain Mint

Buttonbush

Sneezeweed

Sweet Black-eyed Susan

Ironweed

Joe Pye Weed

Riddell’s Goldenrod

Blue Vervain

Mana Grasses

Wool Grass

Dark Green Bulrush

Bottlebrush Sedge

2. Wet-Mesic Plant Community

Canada Anemone

Sneezeweed

Boneset

Great St. John’s Wort

Wild Quinine

Nodding Onion

Great Blue Lobelia

Cardinal Flower

Sawtooth Sunflower

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Vervain

Mountain Mint

Swamp Milkweed

Prairie Cordgrass

Fox Sedge

Big Bluestem

New England Aster

Prairie Blazingstar

Marsh Blazingstar

3. Mesic Plant Community

Anise Hyssop

New England Aster

Partridge Pea

Cream Gentian

Prairie Blazingstar

Foxglove Beardtongue

Wild Senna

Foxglove Beardtongue

Yellow Coneflower

Compass Plant

Pale Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

Ox-eye Sunflower

White Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover

Black-eyed Susan

Butterfly Milkweed

Canada Milkvetch

Prairie Coreopsis

Sweet Black-eyed Susan

Smooth Blue Aster

Golden Alexanders

Rattlesnake Master

Big Bluestem

Indiangrass

Little Bluestem

Prairie Dropseed

Canada Wild Rye

4. Dry-Mesic Prairie Plant Community

Anise Hyssop

Sky Blue Aster

Smooth Blue Aster

Showy Goldenrod

White Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover

Black-eyed Susan

Stiff Goldenrod

Prairie Alum Root

Wild Bergamot

Butterfly Milkweed

Ohio Spiderwort

Pale Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

Yellow Coneflower

Leadplant

Partridge Pea

Little Bluestem

Sideoats Grama

Rough Dropseed

Canada Wild Rye

5. Dry Prairie Plant Community

Butterfly Milkweed

Sky Blue Aster

Silky Aster

Cream Wild Indigo

Partridge Pea

Flowering Spurge

Showy Sunflower

Old Field Goldenrod

Alumroot

Rough Blazing Star

Wild Lupine

Spotted Bee Balm

Large-flowered Beardtongue

Purple Prairie Clover

Ohio Spiderwort

Hoary Vervain

Lead Plant

Wild Senna

Little Bluestem

Side-oats Grama

Sand Love Grass

June Grass

Blue Grama

Remember, nature has these self-made recipes for your wildflower gardens and reconstuction areas.

 

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