Did you know that October and November are among the best of times to plant native seed mixes to expand habitat for wildlife?
Home is a great place for habitat.
It is a joy to walk outside and discover birds, butterflies, and other wildlife just outside the front door, and it’s good for the health and well-being of children to have the opportunity for independent play and discovery in nature. So how do you get started?
Put simply, your goal should be more land with more native plant diversity.
Most all flowering plants sustain pollinators to some degree, however native plants also sustain more insects that feed on plants. Those insects in turn feed most other living creatures.
The more native plants you have, the more insects you’ll have. The greater diversity of native plants you have, the more cool, unique insects you might find. Part of why many plants introduced from elsewhere in the world become invasive is because we did not import the insects that eat them, and so they are less constrained in their growth. The National Wildlife Federation offers additional tips for improving habitat quality at home, as well as a certification program.
So all that matters is that I use plants from Michigan?
Well, not exactly, but native to Michigan is a good starting point. To understand the complexity, consider planting one native cardinal flower in the middle of Detroit, miles away from any other similar plant. What are the odds that any insect will find this lone plant, especially with all the obstacles of traffic and buildings in the way? Look around you at your nearby native plant communities, and explore whether you can plant a community at home that reflects and connects with neighboring communities. Even if you live in the city, you may be lucky enough to have natural corridors like streams or rivers that connect your backyard to nearby natural areas. For the long-term, you might explore whether your neighbors have an interest in creating habitat in their own yards to help build connections, or whether your community might have an interest in modern development techniques that expand habitat connectivity.
Great! I’m ready to plant.
Ten Steps to a Successful Planting
Our friends at the Michigan Wildflower Farm offer ten easy steps to prepare your site for an October/November planting. Remember when purchasing your seed mix to buy from a nursery that does not include invasive plants in the seed mix (watch out especially for baby’s breath and dames rocket). Look for seed that was harvested from plants growing as close to your planting site as possible. Check with the nurseries that have committed not to sell high-priority invasive plants as a part of the Go Beyond Beauty program.
Subscribe to ISN's monthly enewsletter