Not bound by the same interrelationships, many invasive plants get the jump on natives by greening up earlier, growing faster, photosynthesizing longer. March offers a window of opportunity to recognize and remove them before native plants leaf out and gardeners get too busy to notice.
To restore, protect or create habitat, first you need to determine what is already there to preserve and encourage to spread. Even in winter, deciduous trees and shrubs offer a lot of clues about the site and what wants to grow there.
As we all know, iconic, fascinating, beautiful (and seriously threatened) monarch butterflies are milkweed specialists. So how do monarch butterflies find milkweed plants? Read how to design gardens for maximum monarch butterfly benefit.
Bees are smart. They recognize high quality food and habitat. The buzz has gone out that my house is a happening place for carpenter bees. I don't want to kill or drive carpenter bees away, I just don't want them messing with my house. Looking into their habits and life cycle gives clues to peaceful coexistence with carpenter bees.
I love watching songbirds gobble down bugs and berries on the staghorn sumacs planted outside my front window and listening to owls whoo-ing nearby at night. But some wildlife - voles - have worn out their welcome by eating plants and tunneling through gardens. How do I establish self-sustaining wildlife-friendly plant communities when the wildlife keeps eating my plants? Voles and mice play an important role in ecosystems - but I want them out of my garden.
Fall is aster time, and asters are one of the most important pollinator food sources. Nancy DuBrule-Clemente tells how to plant a succession of blue asters that will bloom in your garden from late summer right into November.
Sometimes our good intentions backfire. Scientific research, like insect-plant relationships, is highly specific. But researchers are beginning to fill in the dearth of data and come up with some pretty good clues to answer the big question: Are native plant cultivars - "nativars" - and hybrids good for pollinators and other beneficial insects?
Who is curb appeal for? Why not appeal to wildlife and to your own sense of beauty instead of having a high maintenance cookie cutter suburban landscape?
Sow seeds collected from nearby wild areas, or from plants thriving in your own yard, for well-adjusted offspring. Growing your own is a good way to save money, get your hands on hard-to-find plants, support local foodwebs and promote genetic diversity. Seeds of summer and fall blooming plants, and even some spring bloomers, are ripe in September and October.
Research on wildlife value of every single native plant species and cultivar in every genus in every region simply has not been done, but we have lots of clues and resources. And we can keep looking and learning.