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Folsom Native Plant Society - Education

Gardening with Native Plants is a joy that more people should pursue. There are many reasons why you should give native gardening a try:

  • Native plants are acclimated to your climate and conditions so they are almost care free.

  • Native plants do not require commercial fertilizer or pesticides.

  • Native plants provide food for wildlife and attract birds, butterflies and other helpful insects.

  • By using native plants, shrubs and trees you are doing something positive for the environment.

  • Many of the blooms on our native plants rival their imported cousins in beauty.

We have collected various articles that were published in the FNPS newsletter during the last 2o years that may help you to use native plants in your gardening and landscaping endeavors.

As Henry David Thoreau wrote in his book, Wild Fruits:

Famous fruits imported from the East or South and sold in our markets … do not concern me so much as many an unnoticed wild berry whose beauty annually lends a new charm to some wild walk or which I have found to be palatable to an outdoor taste. We cultivate imported shrubs in our front yards for the beauty of their berries, while at least equally beautiful berries grow unregarded by us in the surrounding fields.

Native Alternatives for Landscaping (FNPS News, Apr. & May, 2003)

Tired of yet another Bradford Pear? Candyce writes: "Brian Tamulonis of the Louisiana Native Plant Society suggests using the following native flowering trees in our landscapes":

Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia
Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea
Devil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa
Paw Paw, Asimina triloba
Redbud, Cercis canadensis
Grancy Gray Beard, Chionanthus virginicus
Parsley Hawthorne, Crataegus marshallii
Mayhaw, Crataegus opaca
Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida
Titi, Cyrilla racemiflora
Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana
Shining Sumac, Rhus copallinum
Gordonia, Gordonia lasianthus
Two-Wing Silverbell, Halesia diptera
Dahoon Holly, flex cassine

American Holly, Ilex opaca
Mountain Laurel, Kalmia tatifolia. (Rare in    Louisiana, but loves the sandy, well-drained    soils found in parts of Washington Parish.)
Bigleaf Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla
Sweet Bay, Magnolia virginiana var. australis
Southern Crabapple, Malus angustifolia
Southern Wax Myrtle, Myrica cerifera
Devilwood, Osmanthus americanus
Ironwood, Ostrya virginiana
Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum
Wild Plum, Prunus americana
Black Cherry, Prunus serotina
Hop Wafer Tree, Ptelea trifoliata
Sassafras, Sassafras albidum
Instead of:   Try These Native Alternatives:
English Ivy:  Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Japanese Honeysuckle: Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens
Asian Wisteria: Wild Wisteria, Wisteria macrostachya
Asiatic Jasmine or Fig Ivy:  Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens
Swamp Jessamine, Gelsemium rankinii
Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata
Tropical Passionflower:  Maypop, Passiflora incarnata
Yellow Passionflower, Passiflora lutea (Miniature vine, good hummingbird plant.)
Other Good Native Vines: Leatherflower, Clematis viorna
Swamp Leather-Flower, Clematis Crispa
Climbing Hydrangea, Decumaria barbara

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Helpful Gardening Methods and Tips


Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer made by collecting water that has been run over compost piles or by soaking the compost. The resulting liquid can then be applied to leaves and roots directly. Compost tea is safe due to its organic nature and it's a great way to give plants a nutrient boost. Compost is formed when bacteria, fungi, and other soil organisms break down dead plant material. The resulting soil amendment is rich, dark and crumbly. It contains water-soluble nutrients that can be leached out.

Start by making a compost pile of faded flowers, grass clippings, manure, leaves and other garden debris. Household vegetable waste can be added but avoid any meat as it attracts rodents. Turn the pile with a fork to aerate and keep it moist if possible. Once the material has broken down to a rich humus (may take 6 months to a year), then prepare to brew.

Fill a wire sieve or plastic container with moderate holes punched out and sink the container into a bucket of water for 7-10 days. Remove the bucket and the resulting tea can then be applied directly to the root zone and leaves.

Did you know... that compost tea is effective for treating early stages of leaf spot and other fungal diseases?  Remove diseased leaves and pour tea over both sides of remaining leaves. Repeat every two weeks.

If you cannot use all the tea right away, store it covered and out of the sun. If kept too long, the tea will ferment and begin to smell bad.

The Right Way to Mulch

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch on your bed, taking care to keep it an inch or so from the crown of each plant, where the stem and the root meet. Mulch Piled against the crown may foster rot.

FALL WATERING TIPS   by Linda Chance (FNPS Oct., 1997)

While Mother Nature is playing her fall drought trick on us, it is wise to prepare ahead and be aware of climate stress on our natives and cultivated yard plants. Here are three tips that can make this time of year easier to manage.

#1 - Heavy mulching in summer or the beginning of fall will benefit in preserving soil moisture and keeping roots cool. An added bonus comes when it is allowed to remain, acting as a slow release fertilizer through winter and early spring.
#2 - Soaker hoses will give greater returns when used on top or under mulches for 2 to 3 hours only once or twice weekly. Frustrations with soaring water bills and poorly performing yard plants occur with frequent, short daily waterings which promote shallow root systems. Leaky buckets or gallon jugs, while not the most attractive landscape  treatment, work wonders for those hard to reach spots.
#3 - A tree or shrub whose leaves have browned and curled or completely dropped off after 8 to 10 weeks without rain will not be in trouble as long as the stems have not shriveled and the leaf buds are still firm. Perennials may yellow and burn off to the ground into early dormancy and still be fine next year if they achieved satisfactory growth earlier in the season. Perhaps better luck with those flowers next year. Or dried flower arrangements may be in order for this holiday season.

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Planting a Bog Garden by Marion Harageones (FNPS News, June, 1998)

Do you like bog plants but don't have a boggy area in your yard?  Well, if you have a sunny location, you can make a bog. Here is one way to do it:

1) Get a plastic container like a bucket or child's small wading pool.

2) Dig a hole in the ground the size of the container. Place container in hole.

3) Fill the container with the dirt from the hole mixed with some sphagnum peat moss.

4) Plant your bog plants in the container. Fill with water.

Another way to make a bog is to dig a hole as wide as you like and make it about 2' deep. Line the hole with a piece of heavy plastic then place the dirt mixed with sphagnum peat moss back on top of the plastic. Plant your plants (being careful not to tear the plastic) and add water. I hope you enjoy making your own personal bog garden.

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Native Plant Gardening Bibliography

Bir, Richard E.  Growing and Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants.  University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
            Good plant descriptions with color photographs, includes good propagation instructions and several useful appendices. 

Bryant, Geoff.  Plant Propagation A to Z Growing Plants for Free.  Firefly Books, 2003.
            Wonderful charts detailing hundreds of plants and their methods of propagation  

Deppe, Carol.  Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties.  Chelsea Green Publishing, 1993, 2000.
            For the more advanced gardeners who want to learn about cross pollination and other more difficult concepts.

Imes, Rick.  Wildflowers - How to Identify Flowers in the Wild and How to Grow Them in Your Garden.  Rodale Press, 1992.
            Wildflower directory with color pictures including propagation instructions.  Plants are grouped according to habitat. 

Jones, Jr., Samuel B. and Leonard E. Foote.  Gardening with Native Wild Flowers.  Timber Press, 1990.
            Also includes ferns, bog & water plants, sedges and grasses. 

Phillips, Harry R.  Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers.  University of North Carolina Press, 1985.
            Good plant descriptions with line drawings and detailed propagations instructions including seed collection methods. 

Starting From Seed  The Natural Gardeners Guide to Propagating Plants.  Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Winter 1998.
            A great, little book that contains especially good lists such as:  seed sources, further reading, plant and horticultural societies and gardening online.  

Toogood, Alan, ed.  American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation.  DK Publishing, Inc., 1999.
            Everything you ever wanted to know about plant propagation. 

Turner, Carole B.  Seed Sowing and Saving.  Storey Communications, 1998.
            Appendices include:  Optimal Germination Temperatures, Characteristics of Common Vegetables from seed, Seeds that require special treatment, Mail order Sources, Seed Exchanges and Further Reading.

 Wasowski, Sally.  Gardening with Native Plants of the South.  Taylor, 1994.
            Excellent plant descriptions with limited propagation instructions

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