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  • Writer's pictureThe Collected Seed

Fall is for planting natives!

I'm so excited that its finally closing in on one of my favorite times of year... when I get to plant amazing, wonderful, beautiful native plants!!!

And since I'm excited, I have the song "I'm so excited" by the Pointer Sisters stuck in my head, which gets me excited for the Saved by the Bell reboot. If you haven't heard about that, here's a trailer.

Okay... back to plants.

I recently wrote an article for the Oklahoma Native Plant Society's newsletter that told the story of how much I love natives.

In short, I lived in other states for a little more than a decade, and realized something about coming back and seeing all the native flowers I remembered admiring from a school bus window or from long, head-clearing country drives, was like a balm for my soul.

Why is a fall planting of natives better?

My sassy side is trying to rear it's head here because I really want to write, "Can you stand the heat in the summers, neither can plants" but I'll be good. Wait. I guess I wasn't good since I just wrote it.

With the exception of a handful of annuals, most native plants are perennial. with incredibly deep roots.

In the Southern Plains, milder weather tends to extend for much longer than in the spring giving these plants time to establish strong root systems instead of fighting for life against the summer heat.

For these young plants, summer's heat can be more damaging than winter's cold.

If you're starting from seeds, it's been observed that native grasses perform better with a fall seeding and native flowers establish better over time with a spring seeding. I don't understand how that could be because most native seeds need stratification, but I'll never be an expert on Mother Nature!

Why native plants are a better choice for a busy gardener?

Because they're perfectly adapted to your growing conditions! In other words, they're going to be pretty low maintenance!

Now that doesn't mean you should plop just anything labeled "native" in your garden. Do a little research and make sure what you're planting is native to your area and soil conditions.

In my case, that means many of the plants I grow are native to the tallgrass and mixed-grass prairies. These plants have very deep roots - like trees! For the first year or two, they need regular, but deep, watering to get established.

Once they're established though, I don't have to worry about them much.

That's the case with the microprairie growing along the south wall of my house which receives roughly 12 hours of direct sun and overwhelming heat radiated by the brick wall they grow along.

Another bonus, they often attract more pollinators.

If you want lots of flowers and pollinators, without a lot of work, add natives to your gardens.

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