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Mr. Smarty Plants - Wildflowers and grasses in Vermont

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Monday - June 01, 2009

From: Pawlet, VT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers and grasses in Vermont
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Invasive in VT.? I am ready to try seed balls in my SW Vermont meadow. (All the tilling and clearing of grass - or as sometimes advised - using Round Up??? for a wildflower garden? seems like so much work, how does a field of wildflowers gain hold in the wild?) I'm thinking things like CA. poppy, altho not native - won't be hardy enough to be invasive. Can you advise? I don't want to wreak havoc, but would love to see flowers blooming with the grass. Also, your instructions for seed balls is so specific about materials - has there been any success with sloppier applications? Thank you for any info. you can provide,

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants suggests starting with at one of our "How to" articles and you may find others of them useful as well.  The article I am suggesting is "Meadow Gardening"—it seems rather appropriate for your problem.   This article gives you tips on preparing the site, seeding it, and then maintaining it. You would probably find "Getting Started" useful, as well.  Next you should visit our Recommended Species page and select Vermont from the map or the pulldown menu. This will give you a list of some 90 species of native plants commercially available for landscaping in Vermont.  You can limit that list by several characteristics using the NARROW YOUR SEARCH  option; for instance, you can choose 'Herb' from the General Appearance category and the appropriate criteria for your site from Light Requirement and Soil Moisture.  You can find even more possibilities by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database and selecting Vermont from the Select State or Province option and then choosing your preferences under the other characteristics.  Plants that you find using either search technique are the ones that will do best in your area and they are beautiful. Why bring in non-natives that have the potential for becoming invasive when you have these beautiful choices? Mr. Smarty Plants would NOT recommend California poppies for Vermont. 

There are numerous recipes for seed balls that exist besides our own How to Make Seed Balls (e.g., Path to Freedom: Projects–Seed Balls, Texas Junior Naturalists: Make Seed Balls) so, yes, you can be somewhat sloppy about the ingredients when making them.  The main thing is to have the seeds, a little organic-rich soil, and some clay-ey soil to hold them together when you add the water.  It is really a lot like making mudpies that you probably made when you were little.

Below are some suggestions for colorful, hardy wildflowers that are native to Vermont:

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)


Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Rudbeckia hirta

Monarda fistulosa

Monarda didyma

Coreopsis lanceolata

Lupinus perennis

Asclepias tuberosa

Gaillardia pulchella

 

 

 

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