Friday, February 11, 2011

This Year's Plant List

So this year I plan to install another pollinator garden with a prairie theme to it. Some people call this a "pocket prairie" but it's really not a prairie unless grasses make up about 40% of the plants. I have a thing against grasses because most of them are wind pollinated. And that goes against the idea of a pollinator garden. One could stretch the definition if the grasses were host plants to moths or butterflies but I'm not going that rout. I much more favor forbs. To make up for the lack of grasses though I've included flowering plants that have a grass like look to them.

The site is full sun, the soil is heavy clay to more ordinary consistency, and dry as a bone over summer months. Native plants to the rescue.

The two main sources I usually buy from are Prairie Nursery and Prairie Moon Nursery. Prairie Moon has a larger selection and even provides some non-prairie plants. Last year they have great prices but this year I think Prairie Nursery is the way to go. I found they had cheaper prices though I'm not sure why. I'm sure it has to do with demand and the need to move stock around.

Prairie Nursery is selling Purple Prairie Clover for just $2.99 a plant until February 13rd. I took advantage of this deal for no particular reason. I like how purple prairie clover looks but I never really felt the need to guy it until now.

Tradescantia occidentalis, aka Prairie Spiderwort, aka Western Spiderword, which is surprisingly native to New Jersey, will hopefully add a grass like feel to the garden. Honey bees love the flowers too. A slight issue is the flowers to Spiderwords are only open in the day time. It's not really an issue though it's just something to consider.


Polemonium reptans, Jacob's Ladder, will hopefully be a nice early blooming ground cover. I notice this plant grows in both full sun and full shade so hopefully it will bloom before everything else, and then not mind getting shaded out by all the taller plants. I'm told honey bees love them too. I just don't think they'll bloom the first year.

Coreopsis palmata This is a rhizome spreading plant and that scares me a little bit. But I'm hoping the soil is clay-like enough that it doesn't spread out of control.

Solidago speciosa This is another rhizome spreading plant that I'll have to keep an eye on. Hopefully the clay soil slows it's spreading down. Opinions on the internet about how aggressive this plant is vary greatly. Some people say it's aggressive while others don't mention this at all. For a plant called Showy Goldenrod I'd hope it would live up to it's name. Not sure what's going on here.

Aster laevis This blooms at the same time as Solidago speciosa. The flower colors will hopefully contrast one another. They get to be the same height too. I think the goldenrod blooms more heavily so I've balanced the plants out some.


Echinacea paradoxa, This is a yellow flowering coneflower. I'm mixing these with Rudbeckia fulgida from Prairie Moon Nursery. The idea is have one plant to replace the other. Rudbeckia typically need sunlight to germinate so eventually the other plants could shade them out. Coneflowers can take a while to really get going. From seed they take about three years to start flowering, and don't even flower that well until year five.

Baptisia australis
I already own one of these but it's never flowered. The odd leaf shape will mix up the flowery carpet created by other plants and hopefully they'll contribute blooms of their own. 


Asclepias sullivantii
Just one. This is a tall milkweed supposidly like Common Milkweed. The flowers are typically pinker too. I read it doesn't spread as aggressively either. This plant might be a challenge as it doesn't like to be too dry. I'm hoping this plant will be an accent point as it towers over the lower growing plants. 



Prairie Moon Nursery

Asclepias tuberosa Prairie Nursery sells these for a cheaper prices unless you use Prairie Moon's Mix and Match Tray option where they round out to a few cents cheaper. I've always wanted the orange form of this plant. I have the yellow and love the bee activity it gets. Their orange flowers will break up the mostly yellow monotony of the coneflower and make the bright pink of the A. sullivantii stand out more. 

Rudbeckia fulgida I'm going for lots of these. I think they're a more perennial version of the traditional Black Eye'd Susan. I believe their seeds require light in order to germinate so this might be a species that eventually vanishes unless there's bare soil available. 

Aster azureus This is another one that should go well with the goldenrod. Also offered as a mix and match.

Aster oblongifolius
Not a mix and match but also not sold by Prairie Nursery. I've seen this Aster in person at the Mt. Cuba Center and loved it. It has a natural low growing dome shape. It blooms later than most Goldenrods and other Aster. And should make a nice boarder for a side of the garden.


From Plant Delight Nursery

Amsonia ciliata. This is another early spring flowering plant with lots of fall foliage too. I'm told the flowers are larger and more showy than Arkansas Bluestar but it has a similar Pine-Like leaf to it. Other Amsonia species have thicker, more normal looking, leaves. So going with the thin leafed plants breaks up the foliage. What I'm afraid of is how dense it seems to get. They really turn into small 3 by 3' shrubs. I'm not sure they'll play nice with all the other plants in a dense situation. I wish there were pictures online of this plant growing in the wild but no one seems to care unless it's flowering. 


From Mulberry Woods Native Plant Nursery
Coreopsis tripteris And at a reasonable price too! I know it's a 4" pot but this is a plant known to get 6 to 10' tall. Normally these big perennials cost more but I'm not complaining. Other online stores selling this plant seem to be in Canada and demand the proper importation paper work be filled out. I find that silly because this plant is native to the US as well. What's alarming though is that the nursery I did buy from is located in Alaska. Could someone more on the main land please sell this plant!

Annoyingly enough there is a cultivar of Tall Coreopsis commonly sold. It has gold leaves and I feel it's an abomination somehow as they match the flowers.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like it will be beautiful...but they all seem to be about the same height (unless I'm mistakenly thinking of different varieties...which could be very likely!). Would you consider adding a few taller plants for contrast...perhaps Eupatorium, Vernonia and/or Rudbeckia Maxima? Plus, they are all beloved by pollinators. Maybe even some contrasting forms...like Liatris or Vernonia.

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  2. This is going somewhat in the middle of the yard so I'd rather not use to many tall plants. The last plant I mentioned, Coreopsis tripteris gets really tall and is going next to the side closest to the bird feeder. At least four other plants can get taller than the 3' mark so they'll sort of line corners to make it so you can look through or over.

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  3. I should probably make an addition that I found a nursery online that actually sells purple milkweed, Asclepias purpurascens. They didn't seem to realize how uncommon it is either, I feel that I got them at a steal too.

    Rudbeckia maxima looks great! I will certainly look into buying that one, maybe as a fall planting though as I'm broke from this venture.

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