Viewing comments posted by Chillybean

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[ Sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile 'Herbstfreude') | Posted on August 6, 2015 ]

This is my favorite non-native (to U.S.) plant. At this time I have one left, but it is next door to an ever growing spruce tree.

One reason I like this so well is that it is a bumblebee magnet. It is a late bloomer, so it is a good food source for these bees when many things have faded. I have since planted more asters and other late-flowering U.S. natives that will replace the other sedums we yanked out of the ground. Another reason I enjoyed this is its early neat growing habit. It forms a nice round ball. But as it gets taller, heavy rains will cause it to flop in all directions, much like the native Tallgrass Prairie plants I have around the yard.

[ Wild Senna (Senna marilandica) | Posted on August 5, 2015 ]

I got two dormant bare roots of these this spring after wanting the plant for so long. They were planted on the south side of our house. I was concerned early on because they were just not popping out of the ground. It seemed to take nearly a month, but every time I checked on them afterwards, there was consistently new growth. In July, the plants have beautifully flowered. I look forward to seeing those interesting seed pods later this year. When it comes to natives they have free reign and in fact I've been hacking away at the daylilies to give these beauties more space to roam.

I was giving friends a garden tour in late May. One of the ladies works in the medical profession. She asked, "Laxative plant?" when I pointed to the Wild Senna. HA! The dried leaves are used today in modern medicine for that very purpose.

This plant is native to much of the eastern United States, going west into Nebraska and down to Texas. It is a member of the legume family. The seed pods look much like peas.

[ Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) | Posted on August 2, 2015 ]

One of my favorite natives, if for no other reason than the fact that one of its common names is Cow Slobber. When you break off a stem, the gooey sap resembles... you guessed it, bovine drool.

I planted my first ones in spring of 2012, needing something that tolerates the field runoff we get every year. It can handle quite a bit of standing water. I have found it to be a prolific bloomer in the late spring. If it gets enough moisture, it will continue until early fall, but these blooms are sporadic.

I have not yet had any problem with spread, only having clumps within the area where I planted. This plant will flop over after a heavy rain, but I just leave it as is. I've never been a neat gardener. I enjoy watching the small pollinators that use the Cow Slobber, mostly flies and some Solitary Bees. I have not noticed any critter eating this, even though rabbits are often seen near it.

This year I noticed a patch of these across the road from us. The county plants US natives in the ditches, but I never saw this plant in the area other than our yard until now. I wonder if some little seeds travelled that way.

[ Biennial Beeblossom (Oenothera gaura) | Posted on August 1, 2015 ]

This plant came with the prairie seed mix we sowed in the fall of 2013. It is said to be a biennial, but it bloomed the next year and I have a patch of it again this year. . A bonus is that this plant attracts hummingbirds!

[ Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) | Posted on August 1, 2015 ]

I bought this in 2011 before I was really into native plants. I enjoyed seeing how they just spilled over raised flower beds we would drive by. It was purchased at some general purpose nursery, so when I was becoming more aggressive with ornamentals, I mentioned to someone I was going to yank this non-native. I assumed wrongly about its native status and he corrected me.

I am so glad I left it alone. It may not be native to Iowa (The USDA map shows Iowa, but no county info), but it is to nearby areas. I am not seeing any insects interested in this, but it does a great job for early spring color and as it fades the later plants have a chance to grow then bloom.

When weeding, I accidentally pulled a portion of the plant off, but then I transplanted it elsewhere. It actually grew and bloomed the next season. My... a plant that can thrive with my abuse!

[ Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) | Posted on July 30, 2015 ]

Finally, I have success with this plant! It took planting 5 flats from the nursery. I asked the owner to start these for me because I had a terrible time getting any to grow here, seed or plugs. This was my last resort. My one condition was NO chemicals. He started some in a greenhouse, but they died after they germinated nicely. He said they usually prevent that with a fungicide, but I wanted no chemicals. I am still firm on that, if I purchase plants intending insects to feed off them, they better not have any 'cides on them.

He started more, but kept them outside. Because spring was cold, it took them a long time to germinate. They were quite puny when I brought them home. Once it was consistently warm, then they really began growing. I did not expect any flowers the first year, but to my surprise I am getting excellent blooms... just beautiful. Even more so with the Monarch caterpillars on them. The Monarchs do use some of the flowers for nectar, but I see more of them on the Blazingstars.

I believe I discovered why I had a hard time growing these previously. I put them in clay soil and watered them too much. They like drier conditions and sandy/rocky soil. After the initial planting and maybe watering them for a week, the only water they get now is whatever the Lord provides.

[ Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) | Posted on July 30, 2015 ]

The Swamp Milkweed was one of my first native plants; put in a wet spot in our yard in spring 2012 as seedlings. Later that summer it was covered in the non-native Oleander Aphids. To my surprise, they came up the next spring and even bloomed, but that was the last I saw of them.

What a surprise! In a drier area of our yard, some came up this spring (2015). I sowed seeds in that patch in 2013 and they must've taken that long to germinate. There are three plants and they all have flowers! Monarch eggs have already been laid and the larvae are consuming this. So far, no sign of the aphids, but I check the plants regularly.

[ Maximilian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) | Posted on July 29, 2015 ]

I planted these for several reasons: Native to the US, not an annual, a lively spreader, and a natural food source for the birds. The Goldfinches just relish those greens and later the seeds as they dry. I have been concerned by the amount of pesticides put on bird food to prevent meal moths and the like. The birds get that in their mouths and we become exposed to it when we handle the seed.

Mine tend to bloom early, starting in July, but others wait until late August into September. The plant spreads mostly by rhizomes, but I have found a few from germinated seeds in other locations. It has not become bothersome in any way.

One of my children's opinion of this small sunflower, "It smells like candy."

[ Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) | Posted on July 26, 2015 ]

This is one of my favorites that I do not have to work on. I enjoy the color in and around the lawn every spring. The growth hides unsightly utility doodads that come out of the house. I like how the growth surrounds the spruce trees and even the propane tank. I do not feel that this plant overwhelms; it just fills in around other greenery.

One interesting thing about this plant is that, besides the flowers being pollinated by insects, it also has closed flowers in the late summer that self-pollinate.

[ Rose Mallow (Hibiscus laevis) | Posted on July 25, 2015 ]

This Rose Mallow was among the first natives I planted on our property back in May 2012. I was looking for something that could tolerate the yearly field run-off from the heavy rains. They did not bloom until July 2014. I had almost given up hope, but I was surprised when I looked out one morning.

The flowers are smaller than the Swamp Mallow, but no less beautiful. The dried seed pods are interesting with rows of small, round, furry seeds.

This is not a plant that can tolerate drought. They will become droopy and the leaves begin to yellow if they do not get enough water.

[ Toothed Spurge (Euphorbia dentata) | Posted on July 24, 2015 ]

I like natives that I do not have to work for. Maybe some consider them a weed, but I find them an interesting plant. This plant does not resemble the Christmas red poinsettias, but yet the flower clusters are very similar. I also enjoy the fact that they are food for some of my favorite birds: Mourning Doves and Northern Bobwhites. The milky latex irritates the mouths and intestinal tracts of mammals, so they avoid this plant.

[ Deflexed Bottle-Brush Sedge (Carex retrorsa) | Posted on July 24, 2015 ]

This native-to-U.S. plant was a risk on my part. We cannot guarantee heavy rains every spring and summer. I've been supplementing with collected rainwater and it is doing well this first year. We bought the two plants as dormant bare roots and they formed their seed heads in about a month. Their most active growing times are in the spring and fall, but they will grow when the temps are cooler in the summer.

This plant is listed as endangered in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

[ Prairie Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii) | Posted on July 24, 2015 ]

This was a surprise I planted last year. I bought quite a few natives but could not remember all the names at the time. It was fun learning what they all were. This grew well in our exposed clay subsoil after we had some construction done. The flowers are quite small, but interesting if you take the time to look at them. The seeds are so small they are dispersed by wind.

[ Large-flowered Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus) | Posted on July 23, 2015 ]

I have abused this poor plant. I later learned they like sandy/rocky soil, so next to the driveway was a good choice. They showed some new growth before the summer ended. This year the Wild Bergamot exploded (!), nearly covering one of the small Beardtongues, so I moved it over a little. In spite of that, this one plant bloomed this year. I planted some other lively natives in that area, so I believe these Beardtongues would be overwhelmed in a year or two.

They were transplanted to another rocky location, but with some sand added, and they haven't died on me yet. We did this before the seed pods could break open and I hope there will be even more in the coming years.

For those who use fire in prairie restorations and maintenance, the large-flowered beardtongue will not survive! In the areas they are found naturally, there is sparse vegetation, so there is little fuel for the fires to consume.

[ Buffalo Bur (Solanum angustifolium) | Posted on July 23, 2015 ]

I used to painfully pull this native-to-U.S. plant. It liked disturbed areas, so we found them in our new gardens. I looked it up and found it was poisonous. Another reason to get rid of it.

Shame on me! Did you know that this was the Colorado Potato Beetles' historical food? We rotate our potatoes every year. Because we have space, I do not think potatoes have been planted in the same place twice and we never had a problem. That's off topic, though. As long as the Buffalo Bur is not found where barefoot fellows tread, they are left alone. I found some last year in our first prairie patch, but I am not sure they will continue there with the abundant growth of other plants.

I was at a friend's home and she was giving me a garden tour when we came upon a giant Buffalo Bur. I mentioned to her about the Potato Beetle and right then we spotted one on her beautiful plant. Wish I had my camera.

[ Bigbract Verbena (Verbena bracteata) | Posted on July 23, 2015 ]

Last year, I discovered Prostrate Vervain when it was growing in the newly seeded grass around the garage. At first, I pulled it because it wasn't grass. Then I decided to get an ID. Ah, native to the U.S., so I gladly left it alone. It would make a nice textured ground cover among the grasses.

This year, I found out it is kind of lively, popping up in places where it wasn't before. For the most part it is left alone because native plants feed native insects. The only ones that get pulled are within the produce gardens.

This plant seems to do equally well in wet or dry soils and sun or part shade. We have clay soil here and that hasn't slowed this down.

[ Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) | Posted on July 22, 2015 ]

I do not care for cats, but I was tickled with the name Prairie Pussytoes in the native catalogue. It makes a nice ground cover and needs very little water. I learned this after planting my first bare root. I kept watering to help it establish, but learned it did not care for this. Now it only receives what the Lord provides. :)

[ Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) | Posted on July 22, 2015 ]

This plant also goes by the common names of Cow Slobber and Snotweed. I already have an abundance of Ohio Spiderwort in a wetter area of our property. I planted the bare roots for the Virginia near our Prairie-to-be in early April. They came up nicely and I was very surprised and pleased that they bloomed. What a gorgeous, deep purple! My favourite colour!

If I had any disappointments, it is the fact that after their time of blooming, leaves and all died. There is absolutely no sign of their existence. I do not know if this is usual or not, but I'll be watching for them next spring. They have a chance as they are earlier than many of the weeds I have to battle. I hope the Cow Slobber flourishes as much as the Ohio variety.

[ Purple Ozark Beardtongue (Penstemon cobaea var. purpureus) | Posted on July 22, 2015 ]

Three plugs were planted last summer. Two in part shade, one full sun and they did equally well. The only watering they get is whatever the Lord provides. We did not see any pollinators at them this year, but found small flying insects stuck to the leaves.

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