By: Jennifer Davit
What will my native planting look like? This is one of the most common questions we get here at Ohio Prairie Nursery and one of the most difficult to answer! Most people are accustomed to planting plants, not seeds and having control over where each plant grows. When you start a landscape from seed, you are giving control to Mother Nature and letting the plants choose where they want to grow.
One of the most fascinating aspects of planting from seed is observing the patterns created by the plants. Today, I visited a site that we seeded in 2010, as I was curious to see how the habitat had matured in the 5 years since the initial seeding. I am happy to report that the site looked great - a huge diversity of native wildflowers and grasses are now thriving in what was once a monoculture of turf grass. I was most interested to see where the different species had decided to take root. Most of the Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis) was growing in groups at the top of the slope. Though most of the native like dry conditions, Blue False Indigo has an extremely long tap root and does not tolerate moist soil. This species had found the perfect place to put down its roots! When installed, the seed is evenly dispersed throughout the site, but eventually the plants establish in the microclimates that suit them best. This is one of the true benefits of starting from seed.
When I gave a presentation last week, an audience member asked me why the images I was displaying looked more deliberate plantings and less random than she anticipated a planting from seed to look. I explained that plants blooming simultaneously might give the impression of a deliberate planting, but in fact was not the case. At the same sight today, the Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), was blooming in concert with the Blue False Indigo. This is a combination I have seen deliberately created in perennials plantings, but in this site, they had chosen to grow/establish themselves next to each other. The color combination of yellow and purple blooms was stunning. Clearly nature always knows best!
As you start your own plantings from seed, we hope you enjoy nature create a stunning show. You are establishing a landscape that looks beautiful and promotes biodiversity.