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FAQ's

 

 1. What are Rushes?

2. What are Native Grasses?

3. What are Sedges?

4. What is a NATIVE Species?

5. What is a Prairie?

6. What is a Wildflower?

7. Why Plant Wildflowers?


 

The following are questions from our customers:

 

a. How long does it take Wild Rose to germinate? (Sarah)

b. Which of your grass straws would you say is best for chewing, and how do I order them grown and most suitable for that purpose? (J Sebastian)

c. Indian Paintgrass - Will the seeds need to be cold stratified? (David)

d. I planted butterfly gardens in Bdorf and at the NE IA plot from your little plants. Both turned out splendidly last year. I left the old plants winter in place in case the birds could make use of them. Now what? Do I cut the plants down to make room for new growth from the roots or leave for sprouting from the stems? Probably both. Hints will help. (Curtis)

e.  Does it matter which geographical locations "natives" are planted? (Jan)

 

 

 

 

 


1.  What are Rushes?
Stiff marsh plants of the genus Juncus, that have pliant hollow or pithy stems and small flowers with scale-like perianths. They are usually aquatic plants. 

 


2.  What are Native Grasses?
Native grasses are various regional and national grasses that were original to the particular area of the country (USA). Some varieties have adapted for use as lawn turf (buffalo grass) or wildlife and livestock forage. Most turf grasses planted in the US today were brought to this country by immigrants or introduced later on by research scientists and plant explorers.  Grasses are divided into two main catagories:

Cool season grasses produce most of their growth during the spring and late fall when soil and air temperatures are cooler.

Warm Season grasses produce most of their growth during the hot summer months from July through September. They survive and adapt better than cool season species under conditions of drought and heat.  The warm season grasses ability to remain standing through the winter provides better nesting and winter cover than cool season grasses. Little bluestem, indiangrass, and switchgrass are among the characteristic warm season grasses native to this region. 

 


3.  What are Sedges?
Monocot flowering grass-like or rush-like plants of the genus Carex. which includes over 1500 species and are a member of the Cyperaceae family.  Sedges have solid jointless stems, narrow grass-like leaves and spikelets of inconspicuous flowers.  They grow in dense tufts in wet, marshy locations.

  


4.  What is a NATIVE Species?
Native plant species that have been found in the USA for over 200 years.  Non-native plants are sometimes confused as Native due to the length of time they have been planted and used in USA.

 


5. What is a Prairie?
A natural prairie is a kind of habitat — one of many kinds — that represents in the here and now the Grand Plan for a particular piece of land. Many kinds of plants live in a prairie, and many times that many kinds of animals do too, so many in fact that no one can list them all. All their actions and reactions of life, combined, makes the prairie what it is, in this place, on this soil, right here. No two wild prairies are alike, and even one small piece of land may have different kinds of prairies on it, as one climbs up from the moist bottomland to the drier slope above, or as one skirts the shoulder of a slope and the quality of the light changes. Though we, quite admirably, sometimes seek to recreate a likeness of a natural prairie, the time it takes for a prairie to mature is so long and the species we employ in the effort so few that all we see is a quick likeness of the real thing, like a reflection in a mirror.

A natural prairie is a piece of the original fabric of the world, the fabric that supports all life, including our own human society. We have acted foolishly by dismantling the prairies for the short-term rewards that provides us. Still today, after all our years of abusive mistreatment, one feels the value of that fabric. It's full of beauty, of color, of tactile stimulation, of fragrance; it's full of puzzles and surprises and mystery. It's different every hour of every day, and no two visits are the same for a visitor with a bit of curiosity and wonder. It changes with day and night, with temperature and season, as wind rises and falls. It refreshes one's spirit with its wildness, wide open to the sky, and suggests to the suggestible that we have a future, still. - Andrew Williams, President, Prairie Biotic Research, Inc.

 


6.  What is a Wildflower?

Wildflower is not an exact term that is well defined. Some people say a wildflower is a plant that was not intentionally seeded or planted and grows without cultivation.  Others classify a wildflower as any plant growing without the help of man regardless of the plant’s country of origin. Still others define a wildflower as a plant found in a specific geographic area that was grown from seed or plants also from that area.

Wildflowers and other plants that grew before European settlement in what we now call the United States, Canada and Mexico are called native plants or indigenous species. Other plants, often referred to as exotics or aliens, were originally brought here from another part of the world. Many exotic species including flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs are among our favorite garden plants. A few, including some wildflowers, have escaped and become established as part of a local environment or naturalized. Some exotic species have even become invasive and are considered noxious weeds that need to be eradicated.

 


Why plant Wildflowers?

A garden of wildflowers offers benefits to both the gardener and the environment. Once established, properly chosen wildflowers require less maintenance than traditional landscape plantings which can mean less watering, fertilizing, pest control and mowing. Some plants have deep root systems that prevent water run off and soil erosion, and enable them to withstand drought. Their growth also brings earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms to enhance soil health. And colorful blossoms can be arranged into lovely, casual bouquets that brighten the home. Flowers provide nectar and pollen sources for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, while ripened seeds are a food source for birds and wildlife. Current research suggests that native plants and flowers might be more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers. Even a small area in a garden or landscape planted with wildflowers that bloom at varying times throughout the growing season helps attract and support pollinators.

 


a. How long does it take Wild Rose to germinate? (Sarah)

It does take up to 2 years or longer for the Wild rose seed to germinate if you plant it directly into the ground. Mother Nature will take care of the treatment processes throughout the seasons to instigate germination. If you choose to grow these plants in a greenhouse setting they will require some extra effort for you to be successful. The seed needs to be scarified, lightly scoring the seed coat to allow moisture into the seed. Then there must be a cold moist stratification period of 60-90 days followed by a warm period of about 80 degrees for 60-90 days which in turn should be followed by another cold treatment of 60-90 days before seeding. This is an involved process but a successful outcome is very satisfying. Good Luck! - Julie


b. Which of your grass straws would you say is best for chewing, and how do I order them grown and most suitable for that purpose? (J. Sebastian)

Big Bluestem is one of the best species for chewing. The taste is kind of like water melon when chewed in July and August. Stems should be cut while still green unless you want to chew on the dryer straw which would be after the plants have gone dormant. You can grow it from seed and wait until the plants reach full size before trimming the stems. You could also use live plant plugs which are already growing. How many stems or straws would you need and how long would you want them to be. We could cut some in July and ship to you but I need to know what your demand for these are. I hope you are talking about humans chewing on them but maybe you were asking in regards to animals chewing on the stems. - Howard

 


c. Indian Paintgrass - Will the seeds need to be cold stratified? (David)

David, our seeds have been cold stratified but not moist cold stratified. Indian Paintbrush seeds normally require the following:

  • Cold Moist Stratification by placing seeds in a medium such as moist vermiculite. Mix and seal in a plastic bag. Place in a refrigerator for 60 days.
  • Seeds are small so when sown onto a soil medium, spread on the surface with just a dusting of soil over the top.
  • If you will be starting Indian Paintbrush in a container, good hosts for many hemiparasitic species include low-growing grasses and sedges like Hairy Grama, Blue Grama, Buffalo Grass, Common Oak Sedge, Sweet Grass, and June Grass. With a knife make a 2" deep cut at the base of the host plant. Sow seed in the cut, making sure seed is not more than 1/8" deep. If host is transplanted at sowing time, the cut is not needed because damaged roots will be available for attachment by the parasite. You may also try sowing hemiparasitic and host species seeds together at the same time. To add hemiparasitic species to existing sites, scatter seed on soil surface (rake in if seed is large) in late fall.
  • Indian Paintbrush is an annual or biennial and is hemiparasitic which means it is partly parasitic getting nutrients from roots of host plants. It must reseed itself in order to continue survival.
     

d. I planted butterfly gardens in Bdorf and at the NE IA plot from your little plants. Both turned out splendidly last year. I left the old plants winter in place in case the birds could make use of them. Now what? Do I cut the plants down to make room for new growth from the roots or leave for sprouting from the stems? Probably both. Hints will help. (Curtis)

Mow them off close to the ground before they break dormancy. Should be even better this year.
- Howard

 


e. Does it matter which geographical locations "natives" are planted? (Jan)

On Sep 22, 2011, at 11:09 AM, Ion Exchange wrote:
Jan, the subject about keeping the genetics local has been tossed around for years. The prehistoric prairie wined and waned across the country adapting to climatic conditions of our geologic past. Therefore, the genetics of a species in North Carolina that is the same species found in Iowa is different because of natural mutations to adapt to the different climates. Does the intermingling of species genetics hurt the natural population of native plants? I don't really know. I know that I have planted Iowa species in East Tennessee at my Mom's property and they all did well. There were no native populations left near her property to cross with. To answer your question, I have to be blunt about this sticky issue. Plants and seeds are now being planted, not only outside their native range but all over the world. In a few years, nature will have to deal with this soup of introduced genetics and I think she will make it right. I would go ahead and plant our seed in North Carolina with a relatively clear conscience.  - Howard



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