Tag Archives: native plants

Now is the Time to Plant Native Trees!

Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginiana)

To increase awareness of the importance of native trees, the Plant NOVA Trees website has a page dedicated to “October is Native Trees Month.” The site lists garden centers offering discounts on native trees, shrubs, and perennials; tree giveaways; and tree-related events in October. Now is your chance to plant native trees while saving money!

The Plant NOVA Trees campaign is part of the Plant NOVA Natives campaign to promote native plants in Northern Virginia. (Hint: bookmark these as they also list native plant sales). Plant NOVA Natives is one of 9 regional campaigns with the Plant Virginia Natives in the commonwealth.

Fall is an excellent time to plant hardy perennials, shrubs, and trees. The cooler temperatures, increased moisture, and decreased sun/heat allow the plants to settle in the ground, send out roots, and get established before winter. While the soil is still warm, roots continue to develop until the ground freezes so the plant’s energy is devoted to getting firmly settled in the soil, not developing new top growth. The plants you buy now can be planted with minimal stress to them and often, with minimal stress to your wallet as many garden centers discount plants to move the inventory before winter.

New Maryland Native Plants Program

Buttonbush, a Maryland native plant

Good news for Maryland! The Maryland General Assembly passed HB950 which is legislation designed to establish the Maryland Native Plants Program. The goal is to encourage and promote the use and sale of plants native to Maryland at certain businesses and to educate the public on native plants. The Department of Agriculture will administer the program in coordination with the University of Maryland Extension (UME). The UME will hire an extension agent to serve as a native plant specialist for certain educational purposes. The UME also will create a specific website on native plants. A commercial Maryland native plant list will be established as well as a voluntary certification program for growers and retailers to be identified either as a Maryland Native Plant Grower or a Maryland Native Plant Retailer or both.

The bill has been approved by the governor and will take effect in July 2024. Here is a current list of Maryland Native Plants on the UME website.

Monarda: Native Herbs with Beautiful Flowers

Lately I have noticed more hummingbirds in my garden. I’d like to say it is because of the Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ I planted but really, I have so many flowering plants it is hard to say. I purchased ‘Jacob Cline’ because a Mt. Cuba Center report said that out of all the Monarda plants in their trial, this one was visited the most by hummingbirds. Although hummingbirds love large-flowered, red cultivars of Monarda in general, they seem to prefer Jacob Cline because (researchers theorize) the plant is taller than the others, thus easier to find.

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A Little Patch of Wildflowers

wildflowersThis spring I had an opportunity to create a wildflower meadow on my property. It is rare to have a blank slate to be able to start a wildflower meadow: an area with good soil and no plants, including no weeds. I was inspired by Mike Lizotte who showed photos and gave step by step instructions on Instagram. Owner of American Meadows, an online seed company, Mike wrote a book called Mini Meadows: Grow a Little Patch of Colorful Flowers Anywhere Around Your Yard. He shows how easy it is to sow wildflower seeds and grow a patch of beautiful flowers for the summer. Continue reading

Plant NoVA Natives Campaign’s Free Guide

nativeplantsfornovaMy family and I had a great time at Green Spring Garden’s Plant Sale this past weekend. It seemed there were many more vendors than in the past. There were so many plants to choose from, as well as a baked goods sale and representatives from several local garden clubs. One interesting gem of information that I wanted to pass on is a new guide called Native Plants for Northern Virginia. Volunteers of the Plant NoVA Natives Campaign were selling the guide for $5.00 but the four-color guide can be downloaded from the Plant NoVA Natives Campaign website free (http://www.plantnovanatives.org).

Published in March 2015, this 48-page guide lists plants native to Northern Virginia (residents of the greater Washington DC area also can benefit from this guide). The guide was not meant to be comprehensive but rather a showcase of natives that are attractive, easy for home gardeners to acquire and grow, and beneficial to wildlife and the environment. The guide is organized by the type of plant: perennials (forbs); grasses, sedges, and rushes; ferns; vines; shrubs; and trees. For each plant there is a photo, cultural requirements, size and shape, and the insects, birds, or wildlife that benefit from the plant. The guide also lists native plants that would do well in particular situations such as wet or dry places, additional resources on native plants, native plant demonstration gardens, and invasive plants.

The Plant NoVA Natives Campaign is a partnership of the organizations listed below. Its goal is to promote the use of these plants in the urban and suburban landscapes in Northern Virginia for their social, cultural, and economic benefits, and to increase the availability of Northern Virginia native plants in retail nurseries throughout the region. For homeowners and gardeners interested in native plants or new to Virginia, this guide is a great introduction and a useful compendium of local resources.

  • Audubon Society of Northern Virginia
  • Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
  • Mason Sustainability Institute
  • Nature by Design
  • Northern Virginia Regional Commission (lead organization)
  • Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Potowmack Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society
  • Prince William Wildflower Society Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society
  • Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • Virginia Department of Forestry
  • Virginia Master Gardeners
  • Virginia Master Naturalists