Nurse crops are plants that are planted with your native seed mix and can sometimes provide benefits to your planting. Establishment time for perennial species varies between species. Early successional or pioneer species may mature in the first year while more conservative species can take several years to mature. When planting perennials, there is a variable period of time that it takes for the seed to germinate and the plant to establish. This time is influenced by the season that you plant, the weather conditions of that particular season, and other variables. In some cases, it is acceptable to wait while the native species germinate and establish, in others there may be a need for things to germinate and turn green in a more predictable timeframe. This can be particularly important in terms of erosion control or soil stabilization, or simply as an aesthetic benefit. This is where nurse crops can be used. In addition to quicker germination, the nurse crop can also provide better environment for the natives to germinate and establish underneath.
Ohio Prairie Nursery recommends using ReGreen™ as a nurse crop for your plantings. This plant was developed specifically for native seed and works well under marginal growing conditions. Click on the link to learn more about this product.