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Learn how to make the most of your native plantings at home.
Doug Tallamy of the University of Delaware has done an outstanding job of translating complex ecosystem science into a clear and simple explanation of why native plant communities are essential. Excellent webinars, articles, books and links to many other excellent resources are available at: Homegrown National Park.
Gardening for Life by Doug Tallamy
Are You on the Map? Is your native pollinator garden on the map? Add your location to this interactive map and join this citizen science effort to create more pollinator friendly habitat across the nation.
Going Native: A Guide to Landscaping with Native Plants in Northern New Jersey (download PDF here)
Native plant gardens are valuable water managers to the extent that they partially replace lawns. Lawns are green, but not very helpful to the watershed.
Lawn management uses pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that migrate into our groundwater, streams and rivers. Mowed lawns have shallow roots and often require irrigation, adding demand on our water supply. Your native plant garden requires no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer and once the roots are established also requires no watering.
Shallow-rooted lawns are also not very effective at helping the soil absorb rainfall, allowing heavy rainfall to quickly become stormwater runoff. In contrast deeply rooted native plant gardens and woodlots with ground plantings and leaf litter blankets make the ground dramatically more permeable and materially reduce stormwater runoff. This is why native herbaceous and woody plants are used in rain gardens. Your native plant garden provides the same permeability in an area that used to be lawn.
Nurseries grow plants in trays of plugs that are designed to develop a strong, healthy and untangled root system.
Landscape plugs are extra large plugs that provide mature plants robust enough to plant directly into the landscape, an efficient alternative to container plants. This size plug is 2” x 2” across and 5” deep. The roots are substantial.
Native perennials invest in developing robust roots before investing in rich foliage and flowers. The root systems in landscape plugs enable many species to be impressive the first season after planting. There are some species that may still take another year to impress, but it is still a much shorter timeframe than other similar cost approaches.
Landscape plugs are particularly appropriate for native plants, which grow best in native soils and not in enriched soils. The landscape plug’s strong roots reach immediately into the native soils.
Reduced media volume results in quicker establishment and acclimation to native soils
Landscape Plug™ tray design and growing practices result in greater root mass
Root channels, tapered cells and drainage holes direct roots to one point for air pruning, resulting in dramatically reduced root circling
From the Northcreek Landscape Plug Manual
These photos show a lawn area in Morristown converted to a pollinator garden using landscape plugs in 2020. These photos are showing the garden’s rate of growth from June to September, although in different views. The plugs were planted in late June because the bed was not ready earlier.
None of our suppliers use neonicotinoids, which are systemic pesticides whose residuals can remain toxic to pollinators for months and sometimes years.
We are only offering plants that are considered “deer resistant”. Unfortunately no plants are “deer proof”– deer in different areas develop different tastes, and a “deer resistant” plant in one town may be a “deer snack” in another.
Plants seem to be most vulnerable in the spring when they are small and also when new fauns start to learn to feed themselves.
Our recommendation is to monitor your young plants. If you see nibbling or if deer have been a problem, use deer repellent in spring and early summer to train the deer to try someplace else.
All of these landscape plugs are sourced from wholesale native plant nurseries in New Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania. They are “ecotypes” suitable for our area.
The wholesale native plant nurseries for our Spring 2021 sale are New Moon Nursery in Woodstock, NJ and Kind Earth Growers in Ottsville, PA. We are grateful for their commitment to local ecotype native plants.