Monday, August 22, 2016

Planting your Yard to Help Nature and Wildlife

By Carole Gernes, Ramsey Conservation District

Avoid invasive species like Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Chinese Silver Grass)! It escapes from ornamental plantings and forms large clumps along disturbed areas, displacing native vegetation.
Photo Credit: Paul Erdman

Fall is a great time for planting! Mindful planting in your yard can help struggling pollinators, birds and native plant communities nearby. 

Help Pollinators by Avoiding Neonics

Alarming articles about disappearing monarch butterflies and bees are all over the media. One way to help pollinators is to avoid buying plants and seeds that are treated with systemic pesticides; sometimes called neonicotinoids or neonics. Stores may have signs saying their garden/vegetable plants are systemic pesticide-free, but still sell treated seeds, flowering plants, shrubs and trees. These pesticides move to tissues of the entire plant, including flowers and may stay in the plant for years. They do not wash off. Pollinators that visit treated flowers may be killed instantly, experience a slow decline in health leading to death or be unable to reproduce. Look for seed companies that offer “untreated seeds” and ask before buying plants. Click HERE for more information on native plants for pollinators.

Don't Plant Invasive Plants
Avoiding planting invasive species will also help pollinators, birds and local natural areas. Invasive plants are non-native plants that can move from your yard to take over native plant communities; like prairies, savannas or woodlands. They replace the diversity of plant life that our birds, pollinators and other wildlife depend on for food and shelter. A variety of plants are important to keep them healthy.

Japanese Knotweed blooms late, but should not be planted for pollinators.
Photo Credit: Carole Gernes, RCCWMA

Even though pollinators will visit a specific invasive flower, a diet from only one kind of nectar or pollen is not healthy. Bird nests are susceptible to predators and they find fewer insects to eat in invasive shrubs.
Three invasive plants to avoid: Dame's Rocket - Queen Ann's Lace - Greater Celandine
Photo Credits: Peter Dziuk (Minnesota Wildflowers) - Carole Gernes (RCCWMA) - Kristin Willette (Volunteer)

Not all invasive plants are illegal; many are still sold in nurseries and online. Do an online search of your prospective plant along with the word “invasive”. One advantage of living in the Midwest is that species move here after being “tested” first on the east and west coasts. Species that are causing problems there may be a preview into our future. 

Avoid planting “wildflowers in a can” seed mixes. If you are interested in planting native wildflowers, buy from a native plant nursery within 200 miles of your planting site. More invasive yard plant information may be found HERE, or at the Cooperative Weed Management Facebook Page HERE. Dig a little deeper to help nature. It’s worth the extra effort!

Check HERE for plants you should avoid planting your yard.

No comments:

Post a Comment