As the first official day of spring nears, you may find it hard to resist your garden “spring cleaning” urge. However, removing fallen leaves and dead plant stalks from plant beds too soon may in fact harm many of the native bees, overwintering moth cocoons, and other creatures that have been sheltering in our yards and gardens over the winter.
“By waiting to trim and tidy your native garden until spring begins in earnest, we can safeguard many small creatures, from salamanders in leaf litter to native bee larvae developing in standing dead stems,” said Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation and its Grow Native! program.
Instead of cutting last year’s spent vegetation to the ground, leaving 8- to 22-inch-tall stems can provide nesting areas for stem-nesting native bees. Various native bee species will lay eggs at different times during the growing season, the eggs will hatch, and the larvae will develop in the stems over the course of a year. New growth will hide the stubble. Learn more at Grow Native!’s Natives for Pollinators web page.
Looking for ideas on native garden designs? Check out Grow Native!’s Front Yard Formal native garden designs for sun and for shade, conceptualized by Scott Woodbury, manager of Shaw Nature Reserve’s Whitmire Wildflower Garden. These and many other native garden designs are available here.
To help select plants for sun, shade, flower color, season of interest, and many other criteria, try the Grow Native! native plant database, with more than 300 native plants featured. A quick and easy filter tool helps you narrow down plants for your specific needs.
Learn from experts on native edibles, landscaping with native shrubs, and many other native landscaping topics at upcoming Grow Native! webinars and master classes, held weekly through April. Check the online programming schedule.
Grow Native! professional members will sell native plants, shrubs, trees, and seeds this spring and fall in Kansas City, Columbia, Jefferson City, Valley Park, and Springfield, MO at Missouri Prairie Foundation/Grow Native! sales. Find dates, vendors, and ordering information here. The first Grow Native! sale of the year will be in Jefferson City on March 27, 2021.
For an online directory of 150 Grow Native! professional members who sell native plants, seeds, trees, shrubs, and native landscaping services, visit the Grow Native! Resource Guide.
Photo: Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) by Mervin Wallace.