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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 17, 2005

From: Marietta, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Wildflower meadow on former cattle pasture in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We have purchased approximately 7 acres of land in North Carolina. A neighbor has been using the land for grazing his cows, but I hope to plant it with wildflowers once we've built a small house. Which plants should I consider and what will be my best plant to convert from the grasses the cows have been eating to a flowering field? I hope to plant at least 5.5 of the acres in native plants and grasses.

ANSWER:

To begin, i suggest you visit the Native Plant Library to find an article called "Wildflower Meadow Gardening". This is a 3-page PDF-formatted article that you can download. It has lots of information about preparing and planting your wildflower meadow. Another article in the Native Plant Library that is relevant to your project is "Large Scale Wildflower Planting." On the Regional Fastpacks page, you can select the "Recommended Native Plant Species List" for the Southeast to download as a PDF-formatted file. The list has a column that gives the specific states for each plant. It also is divided into plant groups: Ferns, Grasses, Shrubs, Trees, Vines, and Herbaceous (wildflowers). There is a column for both the scientific and the common name, and a column with comments on the average height of the plant, the bloom color and period, and the ideal light and moisture requirements. Since the "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" article recommends that the makeup of your meadow be 50-80% grasses, you can start by looking at the 14 grasses on the list for North Carolina. You can narrow the list by choosing grasses with growing conditions that best suit your land. You can also see pictures and get more information about each plant by doing a search by scientific or common name on the Native Plants Database. This list also contains herbaceous wildflowers that are suitable for North Carolina. To find sources for native seeds and native plants for the region, visit the National Suppliers Directory.

The North Carolina Native Plant Society also has a list of recommended plants to use for landscaping, as well as a list of invasive plants to avoid and a list of sources for purchasing native plants and seeds.
 

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