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Establishing A Native Plant Garden Using Nursery Grown Plants
Establishing A Native Plant Garden Using Nursery Grown Plants
Published by Porterbrook
06-09-2009
Default Establishing A Native Plant Garden Using Nursery Grown Plants

ESTABLISHING A NATIVE PLANT GARDEN USING NURSERY GROWN PLANTS

By
Frank W. Porter
Porterbrook Native Plants

Avid gardeners can create a beautiful and fully developed native wildflower garden in one year by installing nursery-grown plants. Several advantages apply to using nursery-grown plants instead of seeds directly sown into the soil. When seeded, wildflowers and grasses typically do not bloom until the third year or even later. These young seedlings must compete with weeds in order to become established. Many nursery-grown plants, however, will flower the first year. In addition, the gardener can also place the plants according to a landscape design to create a desired effect. And weeds can be readily distinguished from native plants; whereas, it is frequently difficult to differentiate weeds from slow-growing native seedlings.

Native wildflower gardens are a great choice for residential landscapes. By following these simple steps, you can create your own native wildflower garden:

1. The garden area must be completely free of weeds and grasses. The soil should be cultivated to a depth of one foot to break up layers of compacted soil. Do not turn the soil; instead, use a tined fork to create crevices by digging first across the garden and then at four to six inch intervals. Once you have accomplished this task, add organic matter such as compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure, shredded leaves, and broken down wood chips to a depth of at least four inches. Work this organic material into the top four to six inches of the soil. This will aerate the soil, allow water infiltration, and provide natural nutrients for the plants.

2. Select plants that will flourish in your garden. Use native plants that fit your gardenís growing conditions. Do not change the garden to fit the plants. Choose flowers and grasses that match your growing conditions, fulfill your color preferences, extend bloom times, and create texture and depth by employing different heights and types of foliage.

3. Native plants do best when installed in Spring or early Fall. Early spring flowers often do better when transplanted in the fall. Prepare a map of your garden ahead of time. Space the plants according to height, breadth, bloom time and color. Mark each plant to identify them during the time it takes to establish and to assist with any necessary weeding. Mulch to a depth of four inches with shredded leaves, and then cover the leaves with three inches of wood chips. Do Not mulch to the stem of the plants; let the mulch gently to taper down to the plants. This will reduce disease by allowing air to circulate around the plants. Mulch will reduce weeds, retain soil moisture, maintain uniform soil temperature, and provide nutrients to the plants.

4. Cover native plants with 4-6 inches of clean mulch. After the plants have gone dormant in late autumn, protect them from soil heaving due to freezing and thawing and winter loss by applying mulch. This is also the time to do a final weeding of the garden and remove all dead foliage from the native plants. In the early spring, remove any excess mulch to encourage new growth. As the new plants emerge, add mulch according to the spring instructions provided above.

Following these simple procedures will ensure a vibrant garden from year to the next. As you become more familiar with the wide diversity of native plant species, your garden can increase in size accordingly. Winter is the time to read and learn about the native plants of Ohio and West Virginia. As spring approaches, you will be ready to step into the garden and begin a new season.

This article was first published by the Marietta Register
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