nativesI’ve been reading more about native plants and the dangers of invasive species lately. I’m realizing how little I know about my home’s (central Indiana, where I’ve lived for all but three years of my entire life) biodiversity. I’m trying to do better, both just to know this place better and in hopes of teaching our children to value the uniqueness of our home. So I thought I would share a little bit of what I’m learning here. I’m hoping you’ll do the same, so we can learn together.

The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society is the BEST source for information on native plants in general, but it is an especially great resource for those of us who live in Indiana. Seriously, just go poke around that site for awhile, and you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of great information available to us gardeners. What I found particularly helpful was their list of what NOT to plant in your yard:

Forbs

crown vetch  Coronilla varia
dame’s rocket  Hesperis matronalis
Korean lespedeza  Kummerowia stipulacea
striate lespedeza  Kummerowia striata
white sweet clover  Melilotus alba
yellow sweet clover  Melilotus officinalis
Japanese knotweed  Polygonum cuspidatum

Grasses

miscanthus hybrid  Micscanthus x gigantea
Chinese maiden grass  Miscanthus sinensis
reed canarygrass, ribbon grass  Phalaris arundinacea
common reed  Phragmites australis
tall fescue  Schedonorus arundinaceus

Shrubs

Japanese barberry Berberis thunbergii
Russian olive  Elaeagnus angustifolia
autumn olive  Elaeagnus umbellata
burning bush  Euonymus alatus
glossy buckthorn  Frangula alnus
bicolor lespedeza  Lespedeza bicolor
sericea lespedeza  Lespedeza cuneata
Amur privet  Ligustrum amurense
blunt leaved privet  Ligustrum obtusifolium
California privet  Ligustrum ovalifolium
Chinese privet  Ligustrum sinense
common privet  Ligustrum vulgare
Amur honeysuckle  Lonicera maackii
Morrow’s honeysuckle  Lonicera morrowii
Tatarian honeysuckle  Lonicera tatarica
Bell’s honeysuckle  Lonicera x bella
common buckthorn  Rhamnus cathartica

Trees

Norway maple  Acer platanoides
sawtooth oak  Quercus acutissima
Siberian elm  Ulmus pumila

Vines

Asian bittersweet  Celastrus orbiculatus
wintercreeper  Euonymus fortunei
English ivy  Hedera helix
Japanese hops  Humulus japonicus
Japanese honeysuckle  Lonicera japonica
periwinkle  Vinca minor

I’m sure you, like me, recognize many of those varieties in your own yard. We’re working to replace those where they exist in our yard (when practical) with native species. The natives that we have used have thrived in our yard. It is especially noticeable after the past several growing seasons with very wet springs and dry summers because the natives are doing well, even thriving, while the non-native species have either died or require much more water and maintenance throughout the dry summers particularly.

Mark your calendars now for the INPAWS Native Plant Sale on Saturday, May 11 at Park Tudor School. The Hamilton County Master Gardener Association has a great sale with lots of natives (including trees) as well on Saturday, May 18 at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds.

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