So you have heard that you can help bees/birds/butterflies/bugs and biodiversity with native plants, now what? You get excited and hit the internet looking for native plant nurseries in your area and start looking through their catalogue or maybe you start searching online for native plants for wildlife and suddenly things start getting a little overwhelming. Which plants to choose? Where should they go? How much space will they take up? I get it, I've been there, wanting to get started and being so excited that you just dive right in but wait! Before you dive in, there are three things to consider that can get you heading in the right direction:
1. A great place to start is taking a look at your space. Do you have a small, shady space or a huge sunny area? The size and exposure of your garden is going to play a role in which plants work for your space. Beyond just the size of your garden, you need to think about how much of that space you want to use for native plantings. Do you have an already established garden and you want to mix in a few natives or do you have a blank slate ready to be dedicated to the bees? Will you need to take grass out or amend the soil or is it all ready to be planted?
2. Next to think about is who your target is. Are you aiming to support biodiversity in general or are you hoping to draw in someone specific like bees or hummingbirds? If you are hoping to bring in the birds, you will need to consider whether you would like them nesting in your yard or just passing through. The vast majority of birds raise their young on insect protein so if you want birds nesting, there needs to be a reliable source of bugs to eat.
3. Finally, how much time and money are you hoping to invest in your new garden? Seeds are certainly cheaper but they take time. In some cases you won't see blooms until a plant has had four to five years to grow. This is the case for the ever popular Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum). Others may take two to three years to bloom while a few native plants like Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Cleome serrulata) will bloom their first year and if they like you, keep coming back every year. If you want an insta-garden, plugs or larger potted stock will be the way to go. While the financial investment is certainly greater, you can see flowers on some the first or second year after planting and get started bringing in the wildlife right away. Plugs and potted stock will need some extra attention in terms of watering and monitoring for health in their first year while they establish their roots but generally they are fairly low maintenance after that. Seeds will take more investment over a couple of years as the plants become established but again, once their roots are happy, so are they.
Once you have gone through these initial steps, you are ready to get started picking your plants! Need some help? That's where we come in. We can help you find the plants to support the biodiversity you are hoping for in the space you have. From the little question of if a certain plant is a good choice to planning the whole garden, we can help bring your vision to life!
Cleome serrulata - Rocky Mountain Bee Plant. A great choice for bringing in the bees!