Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just say no to seasonal plantings

Nothing says fall like pumpkins, gourds, and mums
~ ~ ~

Don't plant the mums.

Don't you just love these fall displays? Can't you almost taste the hot apple cider?

These gorgeous mums have been raised so they are at their peak right now. But if you buy them, don't bother putting them in your garden. They'll look good for only a few weeks, if you're lucky. Treat them like bouquets and drop their pots into some nice containers or hanging baskets so you can enjoy them. Compost them when they go by.

The problem with seasonal plantings

The tradition varies by region, but it usually goes something like this: mums in the fall. pansies in the winter, begonias or coleus in the spring and thirsty impatiens in the summer.

This means that several times a year you will be disturbing the soil which prepares the soil for weeds, either from the soil's seed bank or from newly dropped seeds. This disturbed soil is more subject to droughts. The soil microbes have to readjust after being disturbed.

You see the seasonal plantings everywhere. And then this landscaping behavior is promoted on garden shows, in magazines, on websites as the expected solution. And of course garden shops promote the seasonal plantings because if you buy a new set of plants three or four times a year, they make more money. Sometimes it's hard to tell one state from another, because adaptable non-native plants are used much more frequently than natives.

Let's plant the Real Florida in our yards for authentic landscapes, instead of  these adaptable aliens that are everywhere. 

Native plants become part of the local ecosystem.

Doug Tallamy!

I wrote a piece on Doug Tallamy
about how he has changed the way we think about our landscapes. He has provided better arguments for using more natives in our landscapes, which are backed with good science.

Non native plants have not developed a relationship with local ecosystems and do not have a role to play there, where natives are vital for the survival of many insects and birds.

So instead of that mum, why not buy a nice native aster, which will last for years and serve as part of your local ecosystem? Actually, there are many excellent choices for native fall bloomers. There are many native plant sales in Florida, as listed here on the Florida Native Plant Society's calendar. The calendar also lists chapter meetings and field trips, so you have plenty of opportunity to learn about plants of "The Real Florida." If you're not an FNPS member, you may still participate in many of the activities, but why not join and become part of the solution? www.FNPS.org

Now is the time to start the transition. 

Native asters will bloom year after year. There are many species to choose from, but this one is  Eliot's aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii).

Native salvias (Salvia coccinea) bloom almost year round in north Florida.
We are tempted year round with plants, mostly annuals,
 in full bloom. These plants have completed their life cycles,
so when you plant them into your garden, they will
die quickly, or not so quickly.
They are grown to look pretty on the shelf.

Seasonal plantings:

- cost a lot more money than more permanent plantings.
- do not usually live long and prosper. Many only look good for a few weeks.
- do not usually play a vital role in your yard's ecosystem.
- disturb the soil several times a year so that there are more weeds and that the soil dries out faster, even with mulch.
- cause more work for the gardener.
- are not authentic to your location.

So make the switch to natives for less work and more butterflies.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

1 comment:

  1. Very true. We need to change our mindset--not our plants--to view native plants as part of our local environment's beauty and value.