While Oklahoma winter months are often described as cold, dark, and dreary, the season doesn’t have to be that way! Homeowners looking to brighten their properties should consider using native plants, which offer winter color and provide food and shelter to many over-wintering bird species. A colorful native garden alive with beautiful bird species might just be the remedy for those cold and dreary winter days!
In the United States, a native plant is defined as one that was naturally found in a particular area before European settlement. Native plants are the foundation of a region’s biodiversity, providing essential food sources and shelter for birds. Since native plants have adapted to local precipitation and soil conditions, they generally require less upkeep, therefore helping the environment and saving you time, water, and money in maintenance. Additionally, using native plants and trees on your landscape helps Oklahoma’s native plants and wildlife flourish, and avoids the spread of invasive species and the problems they can cause.
It’s important to remember that almost all perennial and many annual plants are best planted in the fall months of September, October, and November; the seed is best planted in September and October. Plants can also be planted in the spring near the frost-free date.
Most of the wildflowers in our area require several hours of sunlight. They will usually do well in most soils as long as drainage is adequate.
Although the use of herbicides is usually not recommended, grassy areas are best treated with a glyphosate-containing herbicide. These must be applied to green vegetation well before seeding. Allow at least 2 weeks before seeding the area after application of the herbicide. Use the herbicide sparingly and be controlled in the application.
Alternatively, you can cover the dormant turf grass with several sheets of newspaper, then cover that with a couple of inches of sand or compost or a mixture of the two. Mow any dead vegetation as short as possible.
Seeds purchased from a local source usually will be better adapted to our area. They should come with instructions on how to treat the seeds or they may be already treated since some seeds require special treatments. They may require a different planting scheme from that given above because some seeds require light exposure for germination. There are specific guidelines that need to be followed for collecting seeds in the wild.
- Lightly rake the area. Raking deeper than ½ inch will encourage weed seeds to germinate.
- Hand broadcast the seeds over the area. If you are using a mixture be sure they are properly mixed. Commercial wildflower mixtures contain flowers not native to the area so mix your own.
- Lightly rake the area again to assure good seed-soil contact.
- Spray the area with water.
- Water as needed to keep the area moist until seedlings have a couple of true leaves. There is no need for fertilizer. Of course, avoid foot traffic.
Curious about the types of native plants that might work best for your property? GreenPro is proud to be an expert on the types of plants unique to Oklahoma soil. We’d be happy to work with you to get your native garden alive and growing; Call us today!
(Much of this material is adapted from the helpful folks at Nature.org!)