March / April 2011
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Consider Native Plants for Spring Planting

The environment of northwest Ohio is made special by native plants that thrive in our unique climate and soils. Even if suburban lawns have replaced some native species, a thoughtful gardener has many resources to restore them.

TMACOG’s Stormwater Coalition tells us that native plants are those that naturally grew here hundreds of years ago and continue to thrive in the wild without human intervention. Species native to northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan typically have longer root systems that are well adapted to this region’s climate and hydrology. The root systems of these plants help break apart clay soils widely found here, which helps reduce surface runoff. Native plants are used in our region for rain gardens and bioretention areas (landscaped areas that parking lots and roads drain to) to help return nutrients and organic material to the soil. These strategies prevent flooding, and remove pollution. Native plants can be used to attract beneficial insects, including butterflies and ladybugs that will eat destructive insects. They also attract pollinators including bees, birds, bats, and beetles.

There are several places to purchase native plants this spring:

Toledo Botanical Garden sells Oak Openings native plants from mid-April through September.

All County Soil and Water Conservation Districts offer some plant sales in the spring. Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District is having its annual sale through March 28. This year their offerings include a seed packet of backyard prairie mix, with flowers and grasses chosen for dry or moist areas. They also offer quart-size plants for rain gardens, and a wide variety of fruit trees and deciduous and evergreen trees.

Wood Soil and Water Conservation District annual sale is through March 31, and includes tree, shrub, and wildflower packages.

For more information on native plants and rain gardens:

Some Native Plants

Wild Columbine ( Aquilegia canadensis ) Jack-in-the-Pulpit ( Arisaema triphyllum ) Brown Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea)

Some Native Grasses


Switch Grass
(Panicum virgatum)*

Indian grass
(Sorghastrum nutans)*

Wild Strawberry
(Fragaria virginiana)

Eastern Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)*

*Plant list and native plant information courtesy of Naturally Native Nursery.

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