Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prairie Garden - New Section

This was definitely not the year to be attempting an addition to the Prairie Garden.  Heavy rain redistributed the seed and the spring drought killed many of the seedlings.  The resulting stand was much less than I had expected.

The area may look green, but most of that is undesirable plant growth.

A few spots show more of the prairie plants that I was expecting.  Out of about 40 species of seed scattered on the area, I can find plants for only three of those species.  Many other species were visible as seedlings early in the spring, but most didn’t make it though the hot, dry spring.

Several Purple Coneflowers are present and doing well.  They should all flower next summer.

Gray-headed Coneflower was the most successful at becoming established.  This is a very easy species to get established.  If the Gray-headed Coneflower fails to grow, you’ve had a failure of impressive proportions.

A few places are still bare and covered by the residue of the lawn grass that was killed last fall.  Most of the garden is covered by a mix of native and non-native annual plants commonly thought of as weeds.  I will be spraying glyphosate herbicide on portions of the garden to keep these species from going to seed.  I may also plant some Annual Ryegrass to give the area more cover through the winter.  The grass will die over the winter, so it won’t compete at all with the new seedlings next spring.

I haven’t decided whether I should herbicide the entire new section of the Prairie Garden or if I should try to save the desirable plants.  I’ll most likely cover the Purple Coneflowers and spray everything else.  Gray-headed Coneflower should easily reestablish itself from seed next spring.  Because of the drought, seed is going to be scarce.  I doubt that I can collect a mixture as diverse as what I planted last fall.

At least not all of the undesirable species are non-native.  Common Yellow Wood-sorrel or Sourgrass, Oxalis stricta, is a common native that is competitive enough to create a monoculture in some areas.  It’s an interesting plant, but it’s not what I was hoping for here.

The presence of Japanese Clover, Lespedeza striata, was a surprise to me.  I haven’t seen this non-native species in many years.  It’s another highly competitive plant that can claim large areas to itself.  It’s a pretty flower, but I’ll have it gone before it can produce any more seed.  Hopefully, the second year will prove more successful at developing a new section of Prairie Garden.


  1. I know this is a bit off topic, but with your pond and drought issues there I thought you may enjoy this read.

    Ohioans Love Their Lakes, But Are Concerned For Their Future

    You definitely look like you have your work cut out for you, especially this time of year if it gets hot and sticky



  2. Thanks for the information, Kevin. Ohio's water resources still have quality problems, but overall water quality has been improving.