Landscaping With Native Plants – A Wise Choice!

When selecting plants for your yard, consider natives first! What better way to create beauty and wildlife habitat, along with contributing to Michigan’s natural heritage, than by planting native wildflowers on your property.

Whether you are planting a small area in your yard or landscaping a workplace, Michigan native plant species are a wise choice. Native species are not only adapted to Michigan’s soils and climate, they are more easily maintained and cost less than traditional landscapes. Once established, native species require little to no maintenance such as irrigation or fertilization, and in the case of a prairie, no weekly mowing! Native plants can enhance the attractiveness of your landscape, help control erosion, and furnish food and cover for wildlife.

Michigan has a wide variety of native wildflowers that offer spectacular color and are well suited to a number of locations. Where you decide to plant your wildflowers will determine which species to plant. If your soil is wet, you may consider the cardinal flower, wild iris or boneset; if your soil is dry or moderate, the black-eyed susan, butterfly weed, or purple coneflower may be a better option. If you are planting in a woodland or shaded site you could consider the jack-in-the-pulpit, violet, or wild columbine.

Color, height, and blooming time are also important to take into consideration. Spread your blooming season throughout the spring, summer, and fall! This will bring butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds to feed on nectar while flowers are blooming, and birds that eat seeds after blooms are done.

Many native species are wonderfully adapted to control soil erosion. These species possess root systems which extend up to 15 feet or more underground. This characteristic not only allows the plants to be more successful at searching out water, but also allows them to hold soil particles in place, preventing erosion.

In combination with native wildflowers you may wish to plant native grasses. Common types include, big bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, and switchgrass. These are examples of clump grasses that provide open spaces for wildflowers to grow as well as good nesting, rearing and winter cover for wildlife.

When you plant native wildflowers, be patient! It may take up to 3 years for wildflowers to become established. Once they are, you should expect to see lots butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds in the summer and many songbirds in the fall, while enjoying a low maintenance panorama of color throughout the year. For more information on native wildflowers and grasses, please contact the Shiawassee Conservation District.