Preble SWCD plant sale under way


By Renee Buck - Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Pheasants Forever Inc.



PREBLE COUNTY — It’s that time of year, the time to start thinking about preparing your property for springtime. Could the plants in your yard use an update? Would you like to add some vegetation to benefit wildlife and pollinators? Preble Soil and Water Conservation District’s Annual Plant Sale is now under way, so check out the offerings.

Available in this year’s plant sale are evergreen trees, native large and small trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and grasses, asparagus and raspberry starts, and a butterfly and hummingbird seed mix. Something is available for every yard and property.

The benefits of native trees and wildflowers are well-known, but have you ever thought about reasons to plant native shrubs? Whether you have a small suburban backyard or a large rural tract, native shrubs are an important part of the landscape. They provide shelter and nesting cover for wildlife, especially our birds. Most species produce either fruits or nuts that many a feathered friend will enjoy, some even late into winter.

The rich diversity of native shrubs in our state provides blooms for pollinators from early March through late October. In addition, many of them also have a specific host relationship with our native butterflies by providing their caterpillars with a food source.

With over 40 species of shrubs native to Ohio, it can be a lot of fun deciding which ones will work well in your landscape! Too often though, they are unavailable in the commercial market in favor of exotic and potentially invasive species. Many of the Soil & Water Conservation Districts, including Preble SWCD, have some great choices for native shrubs in their annual Plant Sale offerings. I encourage you to seek out these natives and add them to your landscape.

In the last three years I have personally added 11 species of shrubs and small trees to my suburban yard, most of which I bought from SWCD tree sales. Each year I purchase several species, pot them up, and babysit them for the season. Later that season or the following year, I pick the best looking ones and decide where to plant them, then give the rest to friends and family. Here I would like to showcase three species that are valuable to wildlife and pollinators, and also happen to be available through this year’s Plant Sale.

Coralberry

Bloom Period: Mid-season nectar plant attracts small native bees, beneficial insects.

Host Plant: Snowberry Clearwing and Hummingbird Clearwing moths

Fruit: Fall and winter berries are a food source for robins, quail, and other wildlife.

Fun Facts: Can be used to stabilize slopes. Great shelter for all types of wildlife. Also called Buckbrush because it’s loved by whitetail deer.

American Hazelnut

Bloom period: Early season, wind pollinated, separate male and female flowers.

Host Plant: Walnut Sphinx and countless small moths.

Fruit: Edible nuts valuable for wildlife including pheasant, quail, grouse, turkey, deer, small mammals, blue jays, and red-bellied woodpecker.

Fun Facts: Shelter for wildlife. Great for nesting cover.

Persimmon

Bloom Period: Early season nectar source for honeybees and native bees. Separate male and female plants.

Host Plant: Luna Moth, Regal Moth, and several small moth species.

Fruit: Edible food crop for humans, raccoon, opossums, fox, deer, turkey, quail, catbird, cedar waxwing, and pileated woodpeckers.

Fun facts: Only North American species in the Ebony family, and has an all black heartwood.

Orders will be accepted for Preble SWCD’s plant sale now through March 23. Sale details, a plant listing, and order forms are available at www.prebleswcd.org, or you can stop in to the office at 1651 N. Barron St. in Eaton. Call 937-456-5159 with questions. Remember, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

By Renee Buck

Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Pheasants Forever Inc.

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