Q: What is this "species consultation" mentioned on the home page?
Q: Where is Native Plants Unlimited located?
A: We are based out of Fishers, Indiana, but do not have a brick and mortar store. All of our plant sales are seasonal and locations vary. Geist Nursery often hosts our sales, but we always keep an eye out for locations that can serve different areas. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news on where our sales will pop up next!
Q: When are your plant sales?
A: Dates vary somewhat every year, but you can count on a spring herbaceous plant sale (usually in May) and a fall tree and shrub sale (usually September). We may make smaller appearances at fairs and farmers markets as our schedule allows! Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest info!
Q: Is the e-mail list the only way to get updates?
A: It is the most reliable way, but you can also follow us on Facebook here! Unfortunately, Facebook does not show our posts to all of our followers, and often shows them late. Our e-mail is the best way to get sale info, and we only use it for major announcements and reminders! Our Facebook page shares updates, but also photos and educational posts!
Q: No European-style landscape designs that incorporate native plants, then?
In that vein, do you know a landscaping crew that has experience with natives? Let us know so we can include them in our resources!
Q: Should native plants be cut back for the winter?
A: For woody plants- generally no. Prune in the fall if you want to shape them so they bloom well the next year. Woody plants that can be regularly cut back are include some fast growing vines and wild hydrangea, if their yearly growth is healthy enough.
Dead stalks of herbaceous plants need to be removed at some point so the stalks don’t accumulate and smother new growth, though it does not always need to be done every year. It’s usually approached three ways: 1) leave dead stalks standing until new growth appears in the spring, 2) trim dead stalks a couple inches from the ground and leave the stalks on the ground over winter, or 3) remove and dispose of dead stalks. The first is the best for insects, as some species overwinter in hollow stalks. The third is sometimes desired for aesthetics, particularly in front yards, but limits usefulness to some wildlife. The second is a middle ground between the two, and recommended if you can’t swing the first option. In large plantings, a mower set up off the ground can be used to clear dead stalks, and again it is best to do it in the early spring to leave winter shelter for bugs if possible.
Q: Do native plants need to be mulched?
A: The short answer is yes, to help with water retention and maintain soil health. As a general rule, make sure no bare earth is exposed. Some humus loving plants may prefer several inches of mulching. Some that need extreme dry conditions or very little organic matter may prefer sparse mulching or a gravely mix instead, but in central Indiana they are outliers. The good news is dead stalks and leaves of herbaceous plants can be used as ground cover “mulch” after they are cut, and, if the planting is dense enough, no supplemental mulch may be needed at all! A densely planted prairie/meadow can be mowed in early spring, and all the debris left where it falls as mulch, with no extra needed. Younger or sparser plantings that are less dense don’t produce as much debris, so will generally need mulch in addition to old stalks and leaves. Definitely use old growth though, even if they’re not enough by themselves. It’s free, local, and, if you don’t spray, organic mulch!
Q: Can native plants be grown in containers?
A: Yes, though there is unfortunately very little information as to which species do best in containers. That said, most do fine in their first year- the most trouble people have with them is getting perennials to survive the winter, as above ground containers don’t insulate roots as much as the ground does. Plants seem to survive better in larger containers, but we have so little experience with container planting that we can’t really recommend species that are better at wintering in containers. Natives plants are tough, though, and they often surprise us. If you plant a perennial species, don’t dig it out in the fall and see if it comes up in the spring!
- Steer away from species such as false indigos, prairie dock, and compass plant- all of these mature slowly, don’t flower their first year, and have long taproots.
- Be wary of specialized plants unless you’re looking for a challenge- species such as prickly pear, butterfly milkweed, prairie smoke, and bird’s foot violet all need well drained soil and tend to get root rot in regular potting soil. Shoot for species with more average water requirements.
- Stick with shorter species, particularly for smaller containers. Given fertile potting soil, many natives will grow quickly and be fairly large in a year, and if they survive the winter they will get larger still! For smaller pots and window box sized containers, stick with smaller species such as spiderworts, blue-eyed grass, wild strawberries, smaller penstemon, columbine, meadow anemone, phlox, woodland sedum, etc.
- Larger species can be used in large, semi-permanent planters, but extremely large species and those with substantial taproots should be avoided. Sawtooth sunflowers and Joe-pye weeds, this means you.