what can I use

anita55(zone 6 NY)July 17, 2008

Hi everybody, as I remove the non native weeds from my woods edge what can I put in that might spread and fill that niche without spending alot of money. I have bought a couple of solomon seals and my mayapple is not spreading as I thought it would, maybe too soon. I also put in a couple of Jack in the Pulpits which did not make an appearance this year. I'm thinking something that I could just throw seeds down and see what happens. Any suggestions? Am I being foolishly optimistic that this would work? Thanks.

Also, i just noticed this plant as I was weeding, anybody know what it is?


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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I think seeds are not the way to go. I'd instead try plants that spread. I would also suggest you try to find wild sources for plants or gardeners who have native plants. All of the plants you'd want spread vegetatively - a single plant becomes a clump - so that means you can find a place to dig a small bit of a wild patch without harming the wild patch, or any gardener who grows it should have tons to share. In my opinion, find wild plants, propogating them from the wild (of course without damaging the wild population) and having them in your garden is the essence of native plant gardening. That way, each plant you have has the genes of the local population and it has some significance for you - you recall where it came from, you care about the original population, it is tied in to the local environment.

I would look for wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) if you have a sunny or partly sunny area, or Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) if the area is sunny to shady. Both are blooming now and will spread to fill in the area. If you have room for a taller flower, Ox Eye or one of the wild sunflowers like Wood Sunflower are also blooming now and I think make great garden plants. All of these are easily grown by taking a small bit of a wild patch and moving it with some roots and a few leaves into the garden. ALthough they are fully drought tolerant in NY, you'll have to baby them through this summer with some water. There are surely many other choices in your area - just have a look!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 10:21AM
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dbs_illinois_4(z4b Illinois)

I am 98% sure the plant you are showing is an Enchanter's Nightshade, Circaea sp. Interestingly enough, Enchanter's Nightshade is an excellent plant to do just want you want! It will spread quickly and easily, helping to keep out Garlic Mustard et al, but is very easy to remove and will give way to the "nicer" plants as you get them.

I have no natural woodland in my 1.3 acre yard, but I have an area where I have been trying to recreate one, also a large grove of maples that was bare soil and a few weeds and violets on the edges. I also have little disposable income, so plants that spread well on their own are my specialty. I am in northern Illinois--some of these I'm sure are native there, but some may not be:

I found these to spread the easiest:
Polemonium reptans, Jacob's Ladder--and a wonderful plant besides
Hydrophyllum virginianum, VA Waterleaf
Violets, of course--I had Common Violets, I got a couple of Downy Yellow Violets and they made themselves right at home
Solidago ulmnifolia, Elm-leaved Goldenrod (I also planted some Zig-Zag Goldenrod, S. flexicaulis--the only plant so far I have ever regretted planting. It spread worse than canada Goldenrod and Common Milkweed combined!)
Aster macrophyllus, other aster species also
and the Enchanter's Nightshade

These spread well also; the last 2 I had growing as "weeds" under my hedge, so I just had to encourage them a little:
Geranium maculatum, Wild Geranium
Osmorhiza claytoni, Sweet Cicely
Polygonum virginiana, VA knotweed or Jumpseed (name sort of tells you it spreads, eh?)

Any of the plants above will start readily from seed, and some spread vegetatively also. Do you have any native plant groups in your area? The Wild Ones chapter I belong to organizes plant rescues from areas that will be paved over and has an annual seed exchange, as well as individual members trading plants as needed.

And your Mayapple and SS will start spreading well, assuming it's a decent spot for them. My Mayapples really took off this spring, I think it's their third year.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 4:43PM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

Thank you for the ID and for the plant suggestions. There is a Master Gardener plant sale in the spring and I took a card from that. Maybe I'll contact them and see if they have any plants they could share. I'm excited about the Enchanter's Nightshade; I think it is only the second native flower that I have found in my yard so far, the first being the asters that someone ID for me last year. And I do have some sort of goldenrod, too. Most of the plants I have gotten IDs for have been non native, so disappointing. But this is fun, getting an education and making my yard pretty, too.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 8:34PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

From the plants you have mentioned (solomon seal, mayapple and jacks) and what you are trying to do I would suggest something like ostrich fern. Perhaps other larger ferns as well. You can plant ephemerals, woodland forbs, even shrubs and understory around/within them. If they like the conditions it will fill the space in a coupla years and be a foil for whatever else you're growing.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 10:37AM
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Being the eternal optimist I have on several occasions bought quantities of wild flower seeds etc thinking it would be a cure all and for the rest of my life I will pay by weeding .I would do plants in the long run it is much more satisfactory .

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 4:09PM
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My experience is that seeds sown directly outdoors often fail unless they land on well prepared ground. In the wild many seeds are produced and just a few get anywhere which is o.k. there but that is dissappointing when you are paying hard earned money for the seeds. So if you use seed you either have to prepare the ground or start them in pots or, maybe, certain types will be tough enough to germinate at good rates without much work. You can get lucky once in a while. Some seeds I tossed willy nilly did become plants. This has been a mediocre to below average year for me for Jack in the Pulpit. Mayapples are sliding into dormancy now.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 5:16PM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

I also have sensitive ferns which I understand are native but sort of out of control. I put in a couple of cinnamon ferns but now they are lost back there in the crowd, not sure if they are still alive or not. I also have some of that New York fern that someone ID for me.

I put in three Viburnum Dentatums last year and this year I put in three Winterberries. Hopeful that they will provide some food for the birds.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 8:18PM
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I am not sure if Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) is native to your area, but it would be a good choice. It likes shade and self-seeds profusely.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 11:46AM
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karen_b(6a s.c. PA)

I have 2 acres of mostly oak trees bordering a state forest and I too am trying to fill in the forest edge with natives. I have found wintersowing to be the cheapest route to starting seeds, especially natives. Instead of digging up plants from the wild, which isn't usually recommended by naturalists, you could collect seeds later this summer thru the fall and then wintersow the seeds. I even wintersowed a carolina allspice shrub, what a surprise when all of the seeds germinated and now I have loads of seedlings to hopefully trade. This past fall I collected seeds from a meadow garden our local master gardeners have, which made it nice because most of the plants were labeled. If you have questions on wintersowing you can check out the forum on wintersowing.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 12:41PM
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neil_allen(z5/6 Chi IL)

One thing that does fairly well from scattered seed is columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. If you know anyone with the plant on their property, gather the seed this summer after the pods turn tan. A single plant produces a large amount of seed. You should get some plants next year (they won't germinate right away), some flowers the year after.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 4:26PM
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dbs_illinois_4(z4b Illinois)

How could I have forgotten the Aquilegia when I posted earlier? I also forgot Stylophorum diphyllum, AKA Wood Poppy or Celandine Poppy. Another grass I really like and has been spreading nicely in a bare area is Hystix patula, Bottlebrush Grass.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 9:22PM
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anita55(zone 6 NY)

Is the Aquilegia canadensis the only columbine that is native? I've seen varieties in the nursery called (i think) winky biedemeir and other names. Should i avoid those? Thanks

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 9:24AM
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dbs_illinois_4(z4b Illinois)

Yes, A. Canadensis is the only one native to NY (and the rest of eastern and central NA). There are lots of other Columbines native to various parts of western NA and, of course, European ones. I think most of the fancy ones they sell in the stores are hybrids; apparently Columbines are quite a promiscuous genus.

I had some sort of blue ones in my yard when I bought the property; as they have seeded themselves around they have popped up in all sorts of different colors. Now that I have my native ones going, I am removing their seedheads and letting them die off. Since they make themselves at home so easily in the garden, I was curious if any have naturalized. Using the advanced search on the USDA Plants Database (linked belowÂa very useful tool) showed that only A. vulgaris has naturalized in the US. I donÂt think, however, that it will list species that are native to the US, but not to your specific area.

Anyway, short answer isÂif you want native, donÂt get the ones in the regular nurseries! Besides, they will cost you a lot more money, and columbines are quite short-lived. If you donÂt have a source for the plant, just get some seed as they do come up easily.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants Database advanced search page

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:23AM
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