alamahara
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Your opinion on those boxes of wild flower seeds?

I would really like to try them. My aunt says she loves them.

What is the earliest and latest months that you can throw the seeds around?
Love, love, love my gardens! ;)

TheLorax
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Please don't shoot the messenger ok?

Seems as if upwards of 90% of all wildflower mixes are laced with cheap filler seed that makes a lot of money for the people selling the mix. The more garbage seed they can add to their mixes, the more money they make off of us.

American Meadows is a classic example of a company selling "wildflower" mixes laced with noxious weeds and invasive species but there are many mixes available in bags and shaker cans at Lowes, Menards, Home Depot, WalMart, K-Mart and just about every other chain store out there that contain garbage plants that will have you and your neighbors weeding your brains out until the day you die. They're duping us! Classic bait and switch if you read the labels for the list of plants included in their mixes.

If we really want to plant wildflowers that won't become a problem for us and everyone who lives near us, best to buy individual packs of seeds from a reputable local native plant nursery so we don't end up with a few nice well behaved plants (these box, bag, and shaker can companies always toss a few native wildflower seeds in their mixes so they can put photos of them on the label to make us buy them) getting choked out by the garbage plants in their mixes.

The other problem with most of these box and shaker can mixes is that they don't include any native grasses. Many native wildflowers are supported by grasses. Nothing to support them and they fall over. Flopped plants blooming on the ground aren't seen or appreciated by anyone.

These people are expert at marketing their products to get us to part with our hard earned dollar. If we want our yards to be filled to the brim with plants we can see growing in cracks of sidewalks, along the side of the road, in ditches, in vacant lots, and in other waste areas... then its great to buy their mixes with cheap filler seed. If we want to see plants that are found in natural prairies, meadows, savannas, and woodlands then we need to make our own mixes or buy from reputable local native plant nurseries that aren't taking us to the cleaners!

alamahara
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I'm not THAT easily offended! LOL

What plants/seeds do you recommend?
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JennyC
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I'm afraid I have to agree with Lorax. I bought a pack of these seeds this year, thinking "oh, how pretty!" Only after I got it home did I read the label. Baby's breath is listed first. According to the USDA site (https://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=GYPA) it's listed as a noxious weed in 46 states. It's not native to the US at all. It also includes crimson clover, which I may use as a cover crop this winter, but that's automatically "controlled" (some will still escape) when I turn it under. It would absolutely smother any of the other flowers I want to see if I let it grow as it likes.

[Editing to say we crossed-posted, alamahara. I don;t know anything about what's native in PA, so I'll defer to the experts except to say you could google for local wildflower societies and see what they recommend.)
Jenny C

TheLorax
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I've been working on creating a list of nurseries that don't seem to be trying to dupe us into believing all wildflowers are "safe".

Scroll down to Pennsylvania here-
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8290
Good enough place to start as any.

It's ok to call these types of nurseries on the phone to pump them for information too. The types of people who own these nurseries aren't generally competitive and if they don't have what you need, they will steer you to another local native plant nursery. In fact, that's how I've stumbled upon some of the best native plant nurseries in my area. Word of mouth.

Most of the real native wildflowers for your area are going to require cold stratification to germinate. You might want to consider clearing the ares you want to plant in now and then tossing out your seed early winter. Cover it with straw. Next year you can mow that area to keep weeds at bay. Native plants are busy putting down roots the first year anyway so mowing will not affect them. Add native grasses the next year. Makes it easier for me because any grass I see growing in a newly planted area the first year needs to be removed. My identification of grasses, sedges, and rushes is not up to par so best for me to winter sow those and add them as plugs the second year.

And JennyC brings up an excellent point, native plant societies are the way to go. If you can join one of those that has an active chapter, chances are pretty good other members will share seed with you for free! Not only that, they can probably give you lists of which wildflowers are the natives for your area and which aren't.

If you stumble across any good native plant nurseries for Pennsylvania while you are on your search; will you please share the name, website if it exists, and any contact information here-
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7061

editing to ask you what county you live in?

I'll put together a few plants for you to consider but need to know what county you live in first. Can you tell I am one of those people who cringes when she sees people buying those mixes at stores. I say silent prayers that they don't live anywhere close to me.

alamahara
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Thank you for all of the resources. I live in the United States...Pennsylvania...zone 6a. Just curious what packages of seeds to look for. I'm almost positive that my local Agricultural center will carry the seeds. They have thousands! ;) I just don't know the names of the plants to pick them out.
Love, love, love my gardens! ;)

TheLorax
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Local agricultural centers generally don't carry native plants as they are focused on meeting the needs of farmers by providing supplies for crop production, soil cultivation, and supplies for feeding/breeding/raising livestock. It would be the exception to the rule if a local ag center carried anything much other than seed to control erosion or bank stabilization but I suppose there's always an exception to the norm out there.

If you are in a position to share which county you are in, I should be able to provide you with the names of some plants.

cynthia_h
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If there are any botanical gardens or horticultural programs at colleges/universities near you, they would also be likely to have folks who could help you find native plants or other eco-suitable perennials for your region.

Just a "fly-by" response...

Cynthia H.
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alamahara
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Berks county. Amish country!
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TheLorax
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Beautiful area. I've been to Lancaster, Bucks, and Berks Counties. I'm jealous!

This will probably be an invaluable resource for you-
https://www.pawildflower.org/

Here's another possible resource for you-
https://www.berks-conservancy.org/

Here's one nursery out your way that has a real nice site specifically listing some really great plants as being present in their mixes but... when I asked them what other species were in their mixes... no response-
https://www.hwildflower.com/

These people might be worth a call-
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
Native Plant Propagation Center
580 Meetinghouse Rd., Ambler, PA 19002
Phone: 215-283-1330
Fax: 215-283-1497
We are a nonprofit resource to support the restoration of the native landscape on any level we can through being a source for regional native plant material and through education. All plant material is propagated from seed or cuttings.

Basic list of sun loving perennials to consider and I'm not including the common names because there is only one scientific name for each plant but many common names which could screw you up when you start search for seed-

Amsonia montana
Anemone canadensis
Aquilegia canadensis
Asclepias tuberosa
Aster novi-angliae
Baptisia australis
Baptisia lactea
Baptisia tinctoria
Boltonia asteroides
Chasmanthium latifolium
Chelone glabra
Chelone lyonii
Chimaphila maculata
Coreopsis lanceolata
Echinacea pallida
Echinacea paradoxa
Echinacea purpurea
Eupatorium dubium
Eupatorium fistulosum
Eupatorium maculatum
Eupatorium perfoliatum
Eupatorium rugosum
Geranium maculatum
Helianthus angustifolius
Heuchera americana
Hibiscus moscheutos
Liatris spicata
Lobelia siphilitica
Monarda didyma
Monarda fistulosa
Penstemon digitalis
Phlox paniculata
Phlox pilosa
Rhexia virginia
Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida
Rudbeckia laciniata
Rudbeckia triloba
Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica
Silphium connatum
Sisyrinchium angustifolium
Solidago caesia
Solidago flexicaulis
Solidago rigida
Solidago sphacelata
Stokesia laevis
Thermopsis villosa
Tradescantia ohiensis
Vernonia glauca
Veronicastrum virginiana

Basic list of grasses to consider-
Andropogon gerardii
Andropogon virginicus
Carex appalachica
Carex pensylvanica
Carex plantaginea
Carex platyphylla
Juncus effusus
Muhlenbergia capillaris
Panicum virgatum
Schizachyrium scoparium
Sorghastrum nutans
Sorghastrum nutans
Sporobolus heterolepis

Basic list of shrubs to consider integrating into your landscape-

Alnus rugosa
Alnus serrulata
Amelanchier canadensis
Amelanchier laevis
Aronia arbutifolia
Aronia melanocarpa
Baccharis halimifolia
Clethra alnifolia
Cornus amomum
Cornus racemosa
Cornus sericea
Hamamelis virginiana
Ilex verticillata
Itea virginica
Iva frutescens
Lindera benzoin
Myrica cerifera
Myrica pensylvanica
Physocarpus opulifolius
Prunus maritima
Rhus aromatica
Rhus copalina
Rhus glabra
Rhus typhina
Rosa palustris
Salix sericea
Sambucus canadensis
Viburnum dentatum
Viburnum lentago
Viburnum prunifolium
Viburnum trilobum

Hope this helps steer you in the direction you want to go. From here on out you will need to begin making contacts in your local area. The USDA Plants Database is a phenomenal tool once you are comfortable using it-
https://plants.usda.gov/

You can go here to do an advanced search but be sure to search based on L48 native-
https://plants.nrcs.usda.gov/cgi_bin/topics.cgi?earl=advquery/adv_query.html

Here is a direct link to all native plants in Berks county-
https://plants.nrcs.usda.gov/cgi_bin/topics.cgi?earl=advquery/adv_query.html
Have fun, click on the links and you'll probably be able to see photos of many!

Best wishes to you! It's hard getting started but the more connections you make, the easier it becomes.

EarthFirstNatives
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Lormax is 100% correct.

I don't recommend buying any boxes of wildflower seeds in the gerden centers. My recommendations would be to buy mixed from companies that specialize in natives like praire moon or earnst seed. I believe earnst seed is in PA, so that may even be your local genotype allamahari

BTW, Bucks county is awsome!

Raven

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alamahara


Sorry I spelled it wrong in the last post. You may also want to check out the native plant conference in Millersville College each June, its over for 2008 already, but there s always next year.

raptor
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Don't buy these mixes.

They're preying on your ignorance. They're counting on you not doing your homework.

You don't want the the plants they include growing on your property.

minnesota_girl
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Lorax is right, I bought a mix once and it had "wildflowers" and it had weed flowers. DO NOT TRUST MIXES. Buy seeds in individual packages. What you think is flowers is often not what you get with these mixes. I am not saying that all mixes are bad, there are good ones out there.
Happy Gardening

Charlie MV
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I fee like I'm the great unwashed. I planted a few handfulls of wildflower seeds we picked up at Lowes. They grew into what we believed were beautiful flowers until I read this.. We have them in vases throughout the house. Should I bush hog 'em?

TheLorax
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Should I bush hog 'em?
No.

I literally am going to be hand pulling with a newer gardener who was close to tears. She really took it hard. I don't know how she got my phone number but she called me and said she got her hands on one of those Martha Stewart mixes and recognized the Ox-Eye Daisy and Baby's Breath right away but I guess the Chicory took her a bit. I'm going over there next week to take a peek. So far told her to immediately take her mix and start looking up each and every species listed on the label. Also told her to do an image search of seedlings. I asked her if she would be willing to begin hand pulling anything that looked as if it was going to go to seed. She's doing that right now.

You two are both dealing with first year. With this rain that just doesn't give up, these weeds are coming out of the ground like butter with cheap lightweight grabber gloves. Just reach down close to the ground and slooooooooooowly pull upwards. It's really as simple as that and isn't all that time consuming when you're dealing with the growth of one mix. It's not like you did this to acres. You'll both be ok.

EarthFirstNatives
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Should yous decide to go again, check out ernst seeds or prairie moon nursery. they have 100% natives mixes.

Or as previously mentioned, get packs of stuff that you know what it is mnd them you can place it where you want it. Remenber to keep plants with the same needs, ie water, sun, Ph nad such. If you are not sure, do the research...it pays in the end.

I think that the big gimmick when these came out, as I was working in a garden center at that time. was to WOW people with this "throw it out there and it will grow" memtality. They also had those rollout rugs laced with "wildflower" seeds. We couldn't keep them on the shelves. But I think people have wised up, they mixes don't sell well these days.

Raven

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hendi_alex
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Charlie, I agree 100%. Last year I bought a few cans of wildflower mix. What germinated and grew was dominated by many small flowing species including some baby's breath, but also included a lot of cosmos, bachelor button, and other larger flowers. The beds were beautiful and attracted untold numbers of butterflies, bees, other insects, as well as humming birds. The experience was such a delight, this year I bought additional mix, paying more attention to the container label, plus bought and added several individual packs of fiesta del sol, zinnas, four o'clocks, and other species. I expanded the wildflower mix bed size by about four times. The results have been terrific. Unbelieveable number of butterflies and critters. At the same time for the past two years I've been establishing two beds of native perennials: passion flower, coreopsis, several forms of golden rod, swamp milkweed, buttfly weed, and many, many more. Also have been including many salvias in my more traditional perennial beds.

I will continue to grow a large track of annual "wilflower" mix. Will plow the tract each year and will resow additional seeds including many of the premium packs of individual seeds. I no longer have to plant zinna seeds as the resow by themselves and have fifty or more volunteer zinna's this year. Many of these plants will reseed and grow a great crop year after year.

So while I respect the attitude of the wildflower purists in this thread. Those mixed containers can give a wonderful experience to a gardener, and the butterflies and bees make no distinction, they behave as if the wildflower garden was the most scientifically planned garden around.

One edge of the wildflower bed:

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3056/2649193739_57b6a1d0a2.jpg[/img]

A few visitors from one day's insect activity. Just a sampling though as photos can't do justice to the flower bed nor the number of insects and their activity.

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3118/2649193373_7c938a1ba6.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3164/2649192593_4115fb2ff8.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3117/2649192929_53ccb9d99d.jpg[/img]

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3015/2649192205_602081f50c.jpg[/img]

Alex

TheLorax
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So while I respect the attitude of the wildflower purists in this thread.
Not a purist in the least. I grow a considerable number of species that aren't native but... I won't knowingly plant a noxious weed like Gypsophila paniculata (Baby's Breath) or an invasive species like Centaurea cyanus (Bachelors Buttons) or a plant that is known to naturalize such as Mirabilis jalapa (four o'clocks).

I've learned there are hundreds of considerably more appropriate plants out there that are equally beautiful to photograph that are well capable of attracting untold numbers of butterflies, bees, insects, and humming birds without posing an unnecessary risk to the environment. Sheesh, even my orchids attract insects when I place them outside for the summer. Although the vast majority of wildlife gardeners utilize native species almost exclusively, there are many like me who incorporate mild mannered non-native plants into their landscape designs. Seems as if wildlife gardeners are finding the experience equally as delightful without resorting to the planting of noxious weeds or invasive species as the critters frequently don't make any distinction as already noted.

We should all try our best to remember how extremely effective birds are as seed dispersal agents for the propagation of many noxious weeds and invasive species. As gardeners, we aren't always afforded the luxury of seeing the consequences of our plant selections first hand. We see what re-seeds in our gardens and sometimes in our neighbor's yards but few have an opportunity to see first hand the offspring of their very own plants popping up in ditches down the road, abandoned lots, fields, or in natural areas several miles away. I can honestly say that with all we have learned in just the last decade, I have to scratch my head over those who conscientiously choose to continue to use mixed containers of "wildflowers" when there are so many eco-friendly alternatives out there readily available.

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NEWisc
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So while I respect the attitude of the wildflower purists in this thread. Those mixed containers can give a wonderful experience to a gardener, and the butterflies and bees make no distinction, they behave as if the wildflower garden was the most scientifically planned garden around.
Actually, this kind of makes the point. It's a difference of perspective and purpose. We humans (in the developed countries, at least) live in a world of want; the flora and fauna in an ecosystem live in a world of need. We want beauty to increase the pleasure in our lives; the flora and fauna need food, water and shelter to survive.

The meadow-in-a-can type "wildflower mixes" can provide some gardeners with a lot of pleasure with their beauty (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all). And they will attract some insects that can add to that pleasure. But it is not equally beneficial to the native fauna. For example, those mixes contain few, if any, host plants for the insects that are attracted to them. Host plants are necessary for these insects to produce the next generation. Douglas Tallamy, in his book "Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens" makes a clear and compelling case that the native plants are a much better choice if the goal is to benefit wildlife.

Which brings us back to the original point. It really depends on your purpose. If it's to enhance a person's pleasure, the meadow-in-a-can mixes may satisfy that want. If the purpose is to help meet the needs of the local fauna, native plants are a much better choice.
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hendi_alex
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I've not heard of this invasive issue before wrt wildflower mixes. Did a brief search and ended up at at USDA site. Looked at invasive/noxious national list and s.c. list, and didn't see any mention of bachelor button or baby's breath. One wildflower mix bed was not replanted this year. Although a few bachelor buttons reseeded, I see no evidence of the baby's breath having reseeded.

Will Likely make an adjustment and order my seed mix from American Meadows this coming season. I do notice that they carry bachelor buttons for the southeastern area. As is a plant I've know from childhood and is established all over the state, will be happy to retain that in the mix.

I do agree with you, that making a conscous decision on whether or not to include certain plants makes sense, therefore will make an adjustment in the future. Given the info at American Meadows, I do think that there are responsibly selected blends, designed for specific regions, that offer gardeners a simple solution to establishing an mixed wildflower garden of annuals.

cynthia_h
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Just a quick drive-by--gotta go!

Re. Baby's Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)

https://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=GYPA

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

TheLorax
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Very good points regarding purpose however I believe enhancing one's personal gardening pleasure really shouldn't abdicate one's responsibility to the environment by working to avert documented potential disasters (most of which we have some power to avert). Knowingly incorporating noxious weeds or invasive species or plants that are well documented as having naturalized into any landscape design, regardless of whether one just putters around in their garden or is gardening with the purpose of creating actual habitat for wildlife, seems counter productive particularly when there are so many aesthetically appealing alternatives available.

Love Douglas Tallamy's book.

cynthia_h! Your quick drive by posts crack me up.

Here's another quick drive by-
Meet the Garden Coneflower AKA Bachelor's Buttons
https://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CECY2

editing to add-
Nurseries such as American Meadows are part of the problem not the solution.

Charlie MV
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This post is so far over my head I don't even have to duck. Ilike the flowers. There were plants in the mix which didn't flower. I plucked them. The little bed is 20'x 3' and provides my wife with cuttings all over the house. It's easy to control what I keep.

My interest in gardening is eating primarily. I have been sold on gardening 95% organically because it works well it makes sense to feed the soil as opposed to the plant. I don't have the time to read every single link posted and I confess the ones I do read I don't completely understand.

I enjoy this site and have met some delightful people here but I don't get about 50% of what I read. I'll stick around though. Not trying to make waves, just confused.

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NEWisc
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very good points regarding purpose however I believe enhancing one's personal gardening pleasure really shouldn't abdicate one's responsibility to the environment by working to avert documented potential disasters (most of which we have some power to avert). Knowingly incorporating noxious weeds or invasive species or plants that are well documented as having naturalized into any landscape design, regardless of whether one just putters around in their garden or is gardening with the purpose of creating actual habitat for wildlife, seems counter productive particularly when there are so many aesthetically appealing alternatives available.
I agree. Far to often our wants are incompatible with nature's needs. In too many cases they are not only incompatible, but they are clearly destructive. There is a silver lining though, if we choose to avail ourselves of it; we are free to change our wants. :)
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hendi_alex
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NEWisc, a bit simplistic but some good points. Simplistic is good for me. That is my typical comfort level. Each person has activities that are undertaken with different levels of interest. Planting the wildlife seed mix was originally done on an impulse with a can of mix purchased at a 50% off sale. I am more interested in planting more traditional annuals and perennials. In the past few years have taken an interest in providing for complete life cycles so have been accumulating and planting native perennials that serve as host plants. Have two plots of host plants at this point and am expanding each year. I understand your point concerning limited benefit to the fauna, but from my point of view, the section of the yard in question was almost totally devoid of butterfield, bees, wasps, various other kinds of insects, spiders and other predators. This years there are many dozens of species frequenting the site. If the planting was not helpful to them, I doubt they would be drawn like a magnet. From the bug's point of view, this is probably like a Garden of Eden.

For me most activity, if done reasonably, calls for balance and moderation. The annual wildflower bed will only occupy a small fraction of my 2+ acre lot, in the middle of our 140 acre homesite. Test plantings are ongoing to establish suitable host plants to accomodate the need of various larvae. Between my various annual and perenial plantings, and the vegetable and herb plantings, food, living space, and nursery areas will exist in a much greater volume and range than before. My yard is dominated with wire grass (coastal bermuda), highway grass (bahia), and several other invasive plants. Most any replacement will be an improvement IMO. I will give more thought to my selection of annuals, in the future however.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TheLorax
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It's hard to get to all the threads at THG.
excerpt from this thread here titled 'Lists of Native Plant Nurseries'-
That online nursery American Meadows is a poster child for invasive species and noxious weeds. They're enticing us by advertising we can create meadows using their wildflower mixes of Baby's Breath, Forget Me Nots, Ox Eye Daisies, Morning Glory, Chicory, Bachelor's Buttons, Siberian Wallflowers, Dame's Rocket, Shasta Daisies, and Queen Anne's Lace??? Some of those are illegal to sell in my state but these companies must be flying in under the radars selling them in wildflower mixes. Forest Farm is right in there with companies like American Meadows with all the garbage plants they offer. Shame we don't have laws on the books forcing nurseries to part with enough information for gardeners who prefer native plants to be able to shop with confidence knowing that a plant they are buying from a nursery is at least native to this continent or not.
From another thread here titled 'I.D. this flower [photo]-
Say biwa, I just took a closer look at that American Meadows site. No way would I order anything from them. In addition to what Gnome shared with you, many of the plants and seed they are selling are not for American Meadows. Just because a nursery has the word American or Native in it, doesn't mean they're selling American let alone native plants.

Species jumping out as me as being something you definitely wouldn't want would be-
Achillea millefolium (White Yarrow (which one?)
Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower)
Cheiranthus allionii (Siberian Wallflower)
Chrysanthemum maximum (Shasta Daisy)
Chrysanthemum coronarium (Garland Chrysanthemum)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (Ox-Eye Daisy)
Cosmos bipinnatus (Wild Cosmos)
Cosmos sulphureus (Sulphur Cosmos)
Cynoglossum amabile (Chinese Forget me Not)
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
Dimorphotheca sinuata (African Daisy)
Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy)
Gypsophila elegans (Annual Baby's Breath)
Hesperis matronalis (Dame's Rocket)
Iberis umbellata (Candytuft)
Ipomoea purpurea (Morning Glory)
Linaria maroccana (Baby Snapdragon)
Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum)
Lotus corniculatus (Bird's Foot Trefoil)
Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese Cross)
Oenothera lamarckiana (Evening Primrose)
Papaver rhoeas (Red Poppy)
Silene armeria (None-so-Pretty)
Trifolium incarnata (Crimson Clover)???? What is this?
If anyone from the southeastern US is interested in seeing lists of plants that are formally documented as being invasive, the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council maintains a decent enough list-
https://www.se-eppc.org/weeds.cfm

Here's another list-
https://www.se-eppc.org/pubs/scbooklet.pdf

A plant can have many common names but it will only have one scientific name. Bachelor's Buttons have something like 10 different common names but the scientific name is Centaurea cyanus. When attempting to determine whether a plant is a potential cause for concern or not, it's best to try to use the scientific name.

And for those who evidently do really care like Charlie MV and hendi_alex, my hat goes off to you for trying to find a responsibly selected blend for a specific region. I broadcast thousands of Dame's Rocket (highly invasive species) seed here many years ago because I got lulled in by the packaging and didn't make the connection that Dame's Rocket = Hesperis matronalis. I did it to myself. I still have this urge to slap myself up the side of the head for that one. It took me years to get rid of it. It happens to all of us.

Charlie MV, the big deal is that these plants repeatedly escape from our gardens. They begin naturalizing which displaces native species (reduces biodiversity) but more so the issues generally involve public health concerns because when these weeds get into farmers' fields, they have to eliminate them before they choke out the food crops and reduce yields necessary to feed the huddled masses. Unfortunately, most farmers don't have the man power to go it organically so they resort to chemicals and synthetic fertilizers... which like arsenic and DDT, have accumulated and continue to accumulate in our environment. We human beings are nothing more than animals dependent upon our environment for survival just like a chipmunk or a butterfly or a frog.

Charlie MV
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The little flower garden is loaded with bees and butterflies which I know help my vegetables. It's obvious there is much to be learned here but I gotta tell you my eyes cross when I read those Latin plant names. I'll never learn them and truth be told it kind of sucks the fun all out of it.

In the past I ordered plants fro Springhill Nurseries because they had little gardens all laid out that I could order that were tailored for shade, sun or partial. When there's time I'll do that again. The situation we were in this time was that we moved in with an 88 year old MIL who's yard was 2 acres of weeds combined with bare dirt. Our construction took place during severe drought last year and jump starting something, anything was vital for my sanity. Thanks to a FIL who left us a well augmented garden plot, we'll have vegetables to last until next years harvest. I did expand it from about 1/8 acre to 1/2 acre battling weeds and crabgrass all the way.

If anybody has suggestions on where I should take my flower gardens, I'm all ears. I'd be grateful if you'd suggest things like "plant daylillies or plant carnations" rather that "plant latinos verbosim or baffleous meus to distractionous and crossith my eyesockitus" :lol:

TheLorax
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It's obvious there is much to be learned here but I gotta tell you my eyes cross when I read those Latin plant names. I'll never learn them and truth be told it kind of sucks the fun all out of it.
I know what you mean. I took an adult continuing education class on how to use search engines. That helped a little bit. I learned how to cut and paste which helped even more. No need to know how to spell the scientific names when one can cut and paste. Anyway, hand pulling all the garbage plants gets old after a while particularly when they are getting into areas I want set aside for other plants. I know darn well when I get back I'm going to have to spend an hour hand pulling weed seeds that germinated in all my 5-gallon tomato buckets and then onto the few beds of ornamentals I have to weed there which should suck up an entire day of my life. I'd much prefer to be playing in the dirt planting things I want growing here.

Here Charlie, take a look at this site-
https://www.carolinawild.com/
Looks as if they have workshops and a drop in service. If you have a native plant society around, they have meetings and most provide handouts of landscape layouts that would blow the socks off of anything Springhill could provide.

Pssst, I have some daylilies here. Not the orange ditch lilies but others and they're in the ground close to my front door by the sidewalk. When they get too big, I just divide them and toss out the excess.

Charlie MV
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We pass through Columbia monthly on the way to Charlotte to see the parents. I'll stop by the Bluff Rd place and check it out. It wont be a problem to empty the bed if I can find and afford replacements for next year. As long as the vendors speak redneck, I'll be ok. I'll probably leave the flowers for the summer because I know all those bees are helping my vegetable garden. We will be tilling for the late crop in the next week. Thanks for the link. Remember to use small words when replying to me. :)

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hendi_alex
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One problem with Carolina Wild is that they specialize in upstate plants. SC is a very diverse state with very different pretty well defined regions. Upstate is hilly clay, with somewhat cooler weather probably zone 7. Midlands are dominated with very sandy soil and very hot summer time highs, mostly zone 8. And then we have the much milder and wetter coastal plain area. Depending on how specialized Carolina Wild is, they may not have much to offer in the way of plants for us sandhills folks. I am going to contact them however and chat and see about availablilty of suitable plants.

Charlie MV
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Alex, let me know what you find out. I think our soil and climate are similar. We get no rain and are dominated by white sand and scruffy little pines.

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hendi_alex
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Native/non-native are often treated like opposites and probably far too often good is used in relation to native and bad is used in relation to non-native. There is nothing inherently evil in planting non native species. There is not even anything wrong with invasive species in a natural context. Invasive species are great. When there is a fire, invasive species are the first on the scene, they sprout and stablize the soil. Now when an invasive species moves into a grasslands climax community or other sensitive area that is a different matter. I guess that it is still a natural phenomenon that would occur with or without human help, but in our efforts to control nature we certainly have exacerbated the problem (Charlie, that means made worse <grin>).

Anyway this thread has me thinking, and regardless will result in some positive adjustments. But while working in the yard this afternoon I was thinking this, "What were the native species on this hill before my wife's ancestors, even before the native Americans?" I can look around and make a guess at some. Could probably go to some original sources from the 1800's of naturalists sketch books. But who really knows what was growing here and what should be growing here. IMO native plant lists are quite suspect at best. Also, I'm thinking "some of the non-native plants are an improvement or at least are desireable, especially those that are relatively non invasive. Before the 1600's there were no honey bees in this country, or none of the kind we have come to know and love. I guess some would say that the disease killing off the European honey bee is a good thing. And then there is the question of the natural migration of certain plants and animals to this country. Are they native or non-native? They came here naturally! How many of the so called native plants in an area migrated from somewhere else a long time ago?

It seems to me that a person may as well take this "native species" thing with a big dose of moderation. Select plants that fit with the gardening purpose, chose those that tend to stay relatively contained to your area, don't put too much faith in that which is labeled native or non-native unless that happens to be your primary theme or purpose. I'm confident that before the Native Americans, my little hill was a climax forest dominated by oak and hickoy. The only wildflowers were those that expand rapidly following a fire or those that could live under a canapy of trees. I live on two acreas about 60% cleared and the surrounding area is all mixed hardwoods or farmed pine trees. Probably 90% or more of any wildflowers that I plant will be un-natural to this area. The 140 acres surrounding, plus even more wooded from my neighbors offers a pretty decent barrier to an explosion of some invasive plant. Nevertheless will try to stay away from those considered invasive, but not such as bachelor button and baby's breath, which will likely stay quite contained to the yard area.

I'm looking for a wildlife friendly yard and garden. Will continue to provide additional host plants for many critters of the garden. Later will expand my efforts to the transition zones between cleared and forest and will plants as much as possible native shrubs that will provide food and shelter for mainly non game species. That setting will still have room for the right non native shrub, provided it is non invasive and meets some purpose not met by other native selections.

That is pretty much where I am now, based upon very limited knowledge. I'm sure some on this board will help debunk some of my misconceptions and will offer suggestions. I'm certainly open to suggestions and will modify where that seems to be a reasonable, moderate thing to do.

Alex

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This thread may help answer some of the invasive species questions:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7732
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michellepotter
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Can I ask, is there anything I can do if I just planted a can of that wildflower mix -- can I keep it from coming up? I feel silly for not having done some research on what I was doing before I did it, but I didn't know there was so much to know! I found some other, native flowers that I'd like to plant there, but is it too late to do that this year since I've already put the wildflowers there?
Michelle
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It sure is hard to define "widlflower"...

Wild where? If it has only been imported here three hundred years but it is everywhere now, is it a wildflower, or an invasive? Alex raises a good point about all natives being good and vice versa; many non-natives are less intrusive or damaging to local environment than "native" plants moving in in monocultural fashion. But how can Robinia be invasive to Connecticut when it is in our fossil seed record? Sure it got knocked out by glaciers a couple of thousand years back, but it's returning, right? Return of the prodigal tree... And how is Phragmites invasive if it is circumboreal (found all around the world); isn't it just a vigourous native?

But the reality of exotic genotypic variance and anthropogenic dispersal having some calamitous ecological effects is pretty evident in America's Eastern forests, and entirely at the hands of the horticultural trades. From elms (Dutch Elm disease) to chesnut (Chesnut blight), to hemlock (wooly adelgid), we have imported devastating blows to local ecology in the interest of new gardening plants. How can we envision the local ecology of three hundred years ago with these gaps we have created? We cannot; they are tragic losses that we should work diligently to ensure are not repeated. Only the hand of Man can temper the hand of Man...

Now I am a gardener, one fond of Japanese gardening and many of the plants used in Japan. I love these plants as much as my native horde, but I have selected them carefully for their ability to play nicely as much as any aesthetic attribute. I do not use invasive plants and do not recommend them for any reason. Mixes in a can don't show that kind of control, so I'm not a fan. Alex's points aside, I think we can do better, and if you are going to do wilflowers, a quick assessment of the rest of the biota seems a good idea. Are you trying to attract a certain species and should you? Cardinals were rare when in Connecticut when I was a child, but supplied feeding has helped them move north. Is that good? Bad? Maybe generally supportive plants are best for the environment? How do we pick those?

Work by some smart fellers suggests that natives are the most ecologically supportive plants; Doug Tallamy's work is very interesting...

[url]https://www.wildflowersmich.org/assets/docs/09_wnl.pdf[/url]

Doug's a friend of a friend who just wrote this wonderful book (Rick Darke who wrote the forward is another wonderful touchstone on this topic)

[url]https://www.timberpress.com/books/isbn.cfm/9780881928549[/url]

Doug's not just some hack...
Tallamy is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, where he has written more than 65 research articles and has taught insect taxonomy, behavioral ecology, and other subjects. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities.
So do some homework on what is actually around in your neighborhood, both flora and fauna. Be aware of whether the plant you are purchasing is invasive or not, and every once and a while, think about REAL wildflowers as a choice...

Michelle, solarize the area (black plastic for like two sunnier weeks) which will kill the seed. Better off doing starts than scattering seed anyway (get your design on, girl... :) ). Check your state or local watershed resources; you can sometimes get local seedsourced plants...is Echinacea native around me? Not really, but it's close, I have one...find natives you like as well, it's a garden. Want to put a non-native in? Fine by me as long as I'm not picking it out of my yard in a couple of years...

HG
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pretty weeds

Charlie MV wrote:I fee like I'm the great unwashed. I planted a few handfulls of wildflower seeds we picked up at Lowes. They grew into what we believed were beautiful flowers until I read this.. We have them in vases throughout the house. Should I bush hog 'em?
If you believe they are beautiful flowers, then enjoy them. One gardener's weed is another gardener's flower. I even plant dandelions and only dig them up when they get thorny.
:flower:

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