Planting Instructions and Suggestions
Upon arrival, please unpack your native plants immediately and water well. If they are on the dry side, water thoroughly letting it soak through, then water again. This will ensure that the water penetrates the root zone and does not only run down along the inside edge of the pot or 6-pack. Place your plants in a cool place having bright, but indirect light until ready to plant.
Planting: With a trowel, dig a hole which is slightly wider and deeper than the plants root mass. Lightly squeeze the plastic pot or 6-pack around the roots, turn over and gently tap the plants out so that they fall into your hand. With your fingers, carefully tickle or tease the roots outward. This will not hurt the plant and will encourage it to grow into the garden soil. Add enough soil so that when you place the plant in the hole it will be at the same level as it was in the pot or 6-pack. Place the plant in the hole, back fill with soil and gently tuck around the root mass.
Watering: After planting, water in thoroughly. This will make sure the soil fills in around the root zone for good root /soil contact. Large air pockets can damage roots. In the first year, you will only need to water your garden if rain has not occurred for a full week. At this point, watering will ensure that your plants have a healthy start! Once they are established and provided you have chosen the right plants for your soil type, you will not need to water again.
Weeding: Until plants have become established, you will need to weed out unwanted plants. You can do this by hand, but be careful not to pull up the roots of your native plants. Weeds pull out easy a couple of days after a rain.* NOTE : It may also be important to keep faster growing native plants from shading out slower growing ones. In a garden situation, you may want to cut back or stake those which tend to crowd out the others. You will only need to do this until the slow growers reach a competitive size.
Mulching: After planting your garden, applying a light mulch is beneficial. Mulching conserves soil moisture and will help to keep down weeds.
Enjoying: Be sure to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Once established, your native plants will need little care. Watch the birds and butterflies delight in your garden and know that you did a little something to help preserve a bit of our natural heritage.
The wildflower and grass species contained in Morning Sky Greenery seed mixes originate from plants growing in the prairie and transitional areas in much of Minnesota and the Northern Great Plains prior to European settlement. Each species has adapted to differing amounts of light, soil and moisture conditions. The better the match of species to their familiar environments the more successful the planting will be.
Let Morning Sky Greenery choose a seed and/ or plant mix that will best suit your needs. We will take a careful look at your unique situation and provide you with a sound recommendation. We will take into consideration location and match species to your site. We pay particular attention to local species found in your area and will try our best to provide you with an assortment of species which add diversity and beauty to your landscape.
I. Choose the location
II.Time to plant
1. Spring - Early Summer
Plant in the spring when the ground has warmed up. In West Central Minnesota this usually occurs around May 15th. However, planting time will vary from year to year. Planting may continue on into mid July, although late season plantings will most likely need irrigation. Please note: For optimal germination to occur seeds may need to be stratified* for 30-60 days prior to planting.
Plant in fall from early October, when the soil cools, until freeze up. Fall is an excellent time for planting prairie seeds because seeds will be naturally stratified through the winter.
3. Frost Planting
Seeds can also be planted on bare ground in winter or early spring. The process of freezing and thawing will naturally mix the seed with the soil. This method can be particularly useful when planting small seeds or for adding new species to an established planting. Gopher mounds and other exposed or disturbed sites are also good for frost planting.
* Stratify- A treatment used to break the dormancy of seed. Seeds are mixed with moist sand or vermiculite and placed in refrigerator for 1-4 months.
III. Site Preparation- Two methods
1. Succession Restoration - No Till
2. Planting on bare ground
- The site should be burned or mowed as close to the ground as possible before planting.
- Rake or scratch the surface of the site to expose bare soil.
- For areas as large as 1 or 2 acres, seeds can be easily scattered by hand. Add a "filler", such as lightly moistened sawdust or vermiculite, to the seed mix. This will help to “stretch” the mix so that the seed can be distributed evenly over the entire area. (An area of 1-2 acres can be planted in approximately 3 hours.) A Truax or other native seed drill is needed for larger areas.
- Lightly cover the seeds with soil by raking the area again.
- Firm up the seedbed to insure good soil to seed contact. This can be done by a hand or "pull behind" roller or by simply walking or driving over the seedbed.
- Watering is only necessary for the first year if seeds have been planted late in spring or early summer and little rainfall is to be expected. In other words, soil should be moist until the seeds have germinated and seedlings watered during dry spells only.
- Eliminate the weeds by
- tilling throughout the season.
- opaque ground cover can be used for the entire growing season.
- use a short duration herbicide (i.e. Round-Up)
- Lightly cultivate the soil to produce a fine seed-bed.
- Follow the directions for successional planting.
IV. Maintenance is very important!!!
1. The First Year
Mowing throughout the season using a lawn mower set at its highest level (4-5 inches) will work well. Mow when the plants have reached a height of 6-10 inches or before the weeds are allowed to set seed. Be diligent about this! Mow at least 3-4 times in the first year. Do not worry about cutting the tops off of the prairie seedlings.
2. The Second Year
3. After the first and second year
- During late spring or early summer you should mow the area once. Raise the cutting level to 6-12 inches. This should be the last mowing necessary.
- You may want to hand weed but be careful not to pull up the roots of young prairie plants. Weeds will come up easier after a rain. (Wait until soil has dried down a little before walking on it or soil compaction will occur.)
- Spot spraying with a herbicide such as Roundup will also help in the fight against persistent weeds such as Canada Thistle and Sweet clover.
Mow trouble spots only.
After the second or third year the planted prairie needs to be burned annually until it is well established. In order to protect wildlife, it is best to divide the site into sections and to burn a different section each year. A March or April burn will set back cool season "weeds" and will stimulate the growth of native prairie plants. Please check with your local fire regulations and obtain permits before attempting to burn. For more information on burning prairies; How to Manage Small Prairie Fires by Wayne R. Pauly is an excellent reference.
Alternative to burning
If for any reason you are unable to burn your site, you can mow in late fall after seed has set or early spring if the ground is not wet. Raking and removing debris will be necessary to avoid thatch build up.