growing yarrow for medicinal purposes

10 Medicinal Plants to Grow in Your Garden

Not only are plants and flowers beautiful and enhance your landscaping, but numerous plants provide medicinal benefits as well. Down to Earth Services are the native plant specialists in Kansas City, and we have so much to share, including the best medicinal plants to grow in your garden. Even a novice gardener will be able to concoct various essential home remedies such as oils, salves, and teas when growing the following ten medicinal herbs in their garden. 

The 10 Easy-To-Grow Medicinal Plants for Your Garden

1. Cinquefoil

Cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex) has long been considered a powerful medicine used to treat ailments such as sore throats, pimples, sunburn, muscle spasms, and more. Cinquefoil is easy to grow and blooms all summer long.  This plant is related to the strawberry family and is also known as barren strawberries.  The flowers of cinquefoil can vary in color, but the most common color is yellow. 

cinquefoil is a medicinal plant

This beauty also makes a delicious tea. Some of the benefits of cinquefoil include anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used as a diuretic, reducing menstrual pain, controlling bleeding, insect bites, used as an antispasmodic, and can be helpful as a cold or flu therapy.  This plant contains calcium, iron, and magnesium and is mainly used as a medicine source and is a survival herb.      

2. Sunflower 

Many people consider the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) to be a beautiful flower that blooms in blooms from May to November.  The seeds of the sunflower are known as a tasty snack.  Sunflower seeds are in almost every grocery store you visit.  Additional uses for the sunflower are baking bread, cakes, a coffee substitute, and more.  From a medicinal standpoint, the sunflower leaves can be made into a tea that acts as an astringent, expectorant, diuretic, used to treat fevers, malaria, and some lung ailments.  The leaves can also be crushed into a poultice to treat swelling, sores, spider bites, and snake bites.  

In addition to the above uses for sunflowers, they help with arthritis, gastroenteritis, pulmonary pneumonia, whooping cough, colds, and headaches, to name a few.  This medicinal plant is highly versatile and one to consider when planting a medicine garden.

3. Echinacea

Native Americans have used echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) for years as a treatment for various ailments. Today, most people will purchase this medicinal plant as an herbal remedy for the flu or common cold. The echinacea plant is high in antioxidants, reduces anxiety, helps treat skin issues, offers protection against cancer, and contains anti-inflammatory properties.

echinacea plant for medicinal purposes

4. Marigold

Experienced gardeners have used marigold (Asterales) for companion planting, attracting beneficial insects, and nematode control. However, it has also played an essential role in North/South America and Mexico’s early medicines.  Today, the primary use of Marigold is as a source of carotenoids, zeaxanthin, and lutein, for supporting healthy vision. It can also be used as a topical application to support foot health. The extract can be found in ointments, oils, and tinctures.

5. Red Mulberry

Red mulberries (Morus rubra) have many uses, such as jelly, pie, fruit, wine, tea, and other drinks types.  Ripe fruit will be purplish.  Consuming unripe fruit can cause stomach upset and hallucinations.  From a medicinal point of view, the root bark is anthelmintic and cathartic.  Used as a tea, it can help treat weakness, dysentery, reduce hay fever and panacea

red mulberry benefits and medicinal purposes

6. Spiderwort

The ‘wort’ portion of the spiderwort’s (Tradescantia) name is an old English term meaning having the knowledge of the various uses of a plant. You can put both the root and flower of this plant to use in herbal medicines. Native Americans used it to cure venomous spider bites with spiderwort. They also made it into an herbal drink for menstrual pain. However, many use it today as a laxative or to help treat kidney and stomach issues. For years, it has been used as a poultice by crushing the leaves to treat insect stings and bites.

7. St. John’s Wort

It is important to note that St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) can react negatively with other medications, and therefore it is vital to research these interactions before taking the herb. The most common use for St. John’s wort is mood disorders and depression. It can also help to relieve the symptoms of menopause. The majority of people who take St. John’s wort will consume anywhere between 400 to 1200 mg each day. The product is typically purchased as a pill or as an oil.

st johns wort plant and the benefits

8. Skullcap

Skullcap (Scuttellaria incana) is a flowering plant from the mint family. Native Americans and Chinese have both used it as a traditional medicine to treat various ailments. Today, you can purchase skullcap in supplement form. The Chinese used the plant’s dried roots to treat insomnia, diarrhea, high blood pressure, dysentery, inflammation, and respiratory infections. Skullcap comes in powders, capsules, and liquid extracts.

9. Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflower, referred to as echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), is a gorgeous purplish flower.  Some of these flower’s uses are making essential oils, herbal remedies, tea, and herbal supplements. The tea provides a tingling feeling that is both invigorating and refreshing. Many herbal tea manufacturers combine it with mint and lemongrass to offer a unique yet pleasant flavor that is smoother to drink

medicinal plants purple coneflower

Purple coneflower is one of the best medicinal plants and offers a variety of excellent health benefits. It helps prevent infection, boost immunity, relieve pain, soothe respiratory ailments, and improve mood swings. The tea is easy to make by using a handful of purple cauliflower leaves, 10 ounces of water, and an optional sweetener, such as honey. It is a great product to have on hand during the cold season. This soothing beverage will help ease the uncomfortable feeling of a sore throat as the weather gets cold.

10. Yarrow

Last on our list of types of medicinal plants is yarrow. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is another plant that has been used as a traditional medicine for many centuries. It also has been commonly known as carpenter’s weed, Devil’s nettle, bloodwort, old man’s pepper, thousand-leaf, staunch weed, and woundwort. Some of the benefits of yarrow include reducing inflammation, wound healing, anxiety, digestive disorders, and neurological conditions. All of the above benefits have a rich history of medicinal use and are suggested through various scientific studies. Other possible uses include alleviating hay fever, supporting immune systems, regulating blood sugars, treating hemorrhoids, speeding up the elimination of urine, stimulating menstruation, and helping with sleep disorders.

growing yarrow for medicinal purposes

Last Thoughts on Medicinal Plants to Grow in Your Garden

Remember, you will not need a large plot of land or a green thumb to reap the benefits of growing fresh, medicinal herbs in your garden. Medicinal plants provide a wealth of benefits for your family’s garden while at the same time adding a rainbow of colors and alluring aromas. A medicinal herb garden can be grown anywhere, including a kitchen window box, pots on the patio, or a small backyard garden plot. Down to Earth Services is here to help with all of your plant and gardening questions and projects.


A Guide to Missouri Native Flowers

If you are from the state of Missouri or currently live in Missouri, you are more than likely aware of the many beautiful flowers that surround you throughout the year. Missouri is rich in gorgeous landscapes that sweep across the state with flowers blooming throughout the different seasons. Vibrantly colored flowers bloom in progression across all 4 seasons in this beautiful state and include a variety of winter plants that do well during the chilly months. Let’s go over the many different Missouri native flowers that you should be aware of if you live there, or if you are going to visit, and want to see one of the most beautiful aspects of the beloved state

Different Types of Flowers in Missouri

The natural landscape is rich in its variety of beautiful Missouri native perennial flowers. And over the last ten years, native wildflowers have become a popular choice to use in Landscape design. Native flowers can enhance residential landscaping and add depth and a touch of wild beauty, and benefit wildlife in the area.  If you are interested in adding native flowers to your landscape, having the right information on when you should plant them, what the best soil will be, how much sunlight they need, along with many other factors will help ensure a successful and thriving landscape. Once you have the basics down, it’s time to get planting!  First, let’s look at some of the more common flowers you see around the neighborhood and then move to those that people regularly use for landscaping purposes.

primrose missouri native flowers

What Types of Flowers Grow Naturally in Missouri?

There are several flowers that you have likely seen growing naturally. Cliff Goldenrod (Solidago drummondii), blue sage (Salvia azurea), bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa), and the Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata) are all prime examples of native Missouri flowers. There are also other flowers, including the Blue Mistflower (Conoclinum coelestinum), Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Star Tickseed (Coreopsis pubescens), Rose verbena (Glandularia canadensis), and the Dense blazing star (Liatris spicata). Each of these Missouri native plants will have slightly different requirements if you want to see them bloom to their maximum potential. It is necessary to understand this basic information if you want your wildflowers to survive, especially during the seasons where they are the most plentiful.

Popular Wildflowers Native to Missouri

New England Asters 

Later in the year, from August through October, the New England Aster (Symphyotrichum-novae-angliae) is probably the most noticeable of the Missouri wildflowers. If you are going hiking, and you happen to walk by a stream, you will likely see hundreds of New England Aster growing nearby. These uniquely beautiful flowers provide a particular type of nectar that traveling monarch butterflies highly covet. New England Asters also need an extreme amount of sunlight, a minimal amount of shade, and require moist soil. 

all about missouri native flowers

Smooth Beardtongue

One of the most prolific wildflowers you will typically see from May through July is the Smooth Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis). It is very noticeable, primarily because of its color and shape. The clusters of Smooth Beardtongue are white flowers and shaped like a beard and tongue. You can see these beautiful flowers in nature in the woodlands, but you will likely see them driving down a road or interstate highway. The maximum height of Smooth Beardtongue can reach 4 feet, and they need plenty of sunlight, partial shade, and moist soil to thrive.

Rose Verbena

This beauty blooms from May to August and provides a spectacular spray of color to any hilly area, rock garden, or wildflower garden.  Rose verbena (Glandularia canadensis) is a Missouri native perennial that does well in sunny conditions and grows best in dry to medium soil.  The tiny flat blooms grow from 6 to 18 inches tall, and range in color from a rose pink to a rose-purple.  It is a plant that spreads very quickly and creates a beautiful ground cover.

A Few More Missouri Wildflowers

As you head into October, several types of flowers will be even more prevalent, including Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and the distinctive Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). These flowers are very commonplace along the streams of the Ozarks, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds

The variety of vibrant colors and unique textures of wildflowers are an excellent addition to any flower garden or planted landscape area around your home.  And with proper care, your wildflowers will provide beautiful foliage and blooms for years to come.  If you are wondering which flowers will be the most ideal for your home in Missouri, keep reading for some of our favorites.

all types of Missouri native flowers including the dwarf crested iris

Best Flowers for Landscaping in Missouri

Down to Earth Services are your native plant experts, and below we will dive into some of the best native flowers for landscaping. First, to maximize the life of your flower’s you need to choose the position of the flowers and the time of year to plant them. Whether you are planting in a garden bed or putting the flowers in pots around your home, it is vital to educate yourself about the native flowers you are growing. 

For blooms from July through October, the Prairie Blazingstar (Liatris pycnostachya) is an excellent choice.  This flower has a tall distinctive appearance and grows spikes with fluffy flower heads.  Another common name for this flower is button snakeroot.  This unique flower is excellent for borders and makes lovely cutting flowers. It is important to note that this particular flower is very tall, growing anywhere from 2 to 4 feet in height, so placement is imperative.  

If you are going to plant in April or May, and you would like your flowers to last several months, the Grayhead coneflower (Ratibida Pinnata) might be your best choice.  This beauty blooms from June to August and is certainly a contrast with the Prairie Blazingstar in color and its overall appearance. These can also reach extreme heights, going from 3 feet up to 5 feet.  A good placement for this flower would be as a border or on the side of your home that gets the most sunlight.  Because of the height, it may be necessary to add staking for added support.  

On the other hand, if you are planting later in the year, the Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) might be a great choice if you have a flower garden that is out in the open. This vibrant wildflower will also produce nectar that will attract butterflies when they are traveling through the area. Be sure to adequately drain the soil to ensure the best outcome for this perennial.

butterfly weed Missouri native plants

Choosing the Right Missouri Native Flowers for Your Landscaping

Choosing the right flowers for your landscaping can be overwhelming. Down to Earth Services is the team to talk to if you’re feeling out of your element. Depending upon the type of climate you have annually, your elevation, and the kind of weather you typically have, professionals like the Native Plant Experts at Down to Earth Services will know which flowers to pick. Not only can we determine what would look best regarding the color and positioning of your home, but we can also choose Missouri wildflowers based upon where you want to have them planted. Combining many of these flowers can often create a magical garden of flowers that will grow at similar times and cascading times to develop an assortment of lasting blooms. 

Whether you decide to plant Prairie Blazingstar, garden phlox, or the Grayhead coneflower, you can rest assured that they will provide a beautiful transition of color in your landscape. Knowing the type of soil to use, the time of year they will flourish, and how often to water are essential factors when planting Missouri native perennial flowers. The amount of sun that they need and the proper position around your home can also contribute to how long the flowers will live. From the crested iris to the beautiful bluebells that are so prolific throughout Missouri, contact Down to Earth Services to help you choose and plant the best Missouri native flowers for your landscape. 


flowers for xeriscaping

A Guide to Xeriscape Landscaping

There is a unique type of gardening that does not require the use of extensive amounts of water. It is called xeriscaping. It is done by using different types of vegetation that will not use an overabundance of water to keep the plants alive. This type of landscaping is advantageous in areas where rain is at a minimum, especially year-round, yet people still want to have a beautiful landscape surrounding them. Here is a quick guide to xeriscape landscaping and how you can benefit from this unique way of developing drought-tolerant landscapes using plants native to your area.

An Overview of Xeriscaping

If you live in a region of the world that is extremely dry, trying to plant vegetation outside of your home can be problematic. It may also be difficult if you need to use some form of irrigation, especially if you are in a region that does not have good aquifers. Therefore, many savvy people developed what is called xeriscaping. It is an alternative to what many people call traditional gardening. Instead of using plants that require water daily, these plants can maintain their luster, and continue to grow, despite the absence of water.

What Are the Advantages to Xeriscaping?

From a practical perspective, if you do live in an area where water is infrequently provided in the form of precipitation, this is an ideal way to create a garden-like area. You can also reduce water consumption which may be necessary for your particular community, especially if you are experiencing drought-like conditions. These plants also require very little maintenance. Although they can take advantage of rainfall, it is not necessary, especially if you have done proper soil grading and mulching to preserve the available water. A reduction in overall maintenance costs, as well as reducing the amount of organic waste that you produce, are all benefits to this type of landscaping.

xeriscape design principles

Principals Surrounding Xeriscaping

There are several xeriscape design principles that you must follow if you choose to create this type of garden. These are simply guidelines that many people used to create the most effective appearance. The plan and design are typically done on a diagram, incorporating the plants with your sidewalk, driveway, patio, deck, and also your house. There are certain types of soil amendments that must be made as well. You need to use soil that can retain water, and also use effective and efficient irrigation strategies. For example, if you are going to minimize the amount of water that you use each year, you must plant these in areas that will maximize the availability of water for flowers, shrubs, trees, and also groundcover plants that you may be using.

Why Xeriscaping is Best In Certain Regions

Aside from the probability of a drought occurring, to prepare for a drought, water consumption must be kept to a minimum. There are certain areas of the world where this is necessary. Additionally, drought-resistant plants can replace the use of standard green lawns that so many people have today which require an excessive amount of water, and maintenance to maintain their pristine appearance. Finally, if you are planting anything, and rainfall is scarce, using foliage that requires little water can help to maximize your investment in the plants that you purchase. Instead of worrying that they will not have enough water, this is a concern that no longer exists when you are doing xeriscape landscaping instead.

How to Create a Xeriscape

There are several considerations that you need to make before starting. First of all, you need to choose the plants that you are going to use very carefully. Always choose plants that are designed for high drought tolerance. However, the plants you choose should also be appealing and contribute to your landscaping efforts. It’s also important to prepare the soil that you are going to use, preferably adding as much organic matter as possible in the form of compost. A layer of mulch over the top of the soil can help retain moisture, and you must be prepared to water as efficiently as possible.

drought tolerant landscaping

What Type of Plants Do You Use in Xeriscape Landscaping?

There are several popular types of plants that you can use in a xeriscape, all of which will do very well in an arid climate. This includes the following plants, which are perfect for xeriscape landscaping, plus they are also very colorful.

purple coneflower

Can You Incorporate Regular Plants with Xeriscape Landscaping

It is not recommended that you use standard plants with xeriscape landscaping because of watering requirements.  However, if the plants you select have a high tolerance for heat and need only small amounts of water, they will be perfect for your xeriscape garden. If you select flowers and other plants that need more water, you may want to incorporate them in a specific area, where you can manage the amount of water that is used. Doing this will allow you to segment these plants, and care for them according to their requirements without having to worry about overwatering any of the other plants in your landscape.

Is Xeriscape Landscaping Ideal for Everyone?

Xeriscaping can be ideal in certain situations. However, if you happen to be in a tropical climate, these plants are simply not going to do very well. It is important to consider the climate you are in, the amount of rainfall that you receive, and the temperatures that are most common in your region. In certain circumstances, in moderate climates, you may be able to combine the many different types of plants from regular flower gardens and xeriscape landscaping flora. However, if the conditions are extreme with heavy downpours, and extremely cold temperatures, xeriscape landscaping may not be ideal.

If you are concerned about the amount of water that you are using regularly for your flower garden, consider xeriscape landscaping instead. You can create very colorful layouts, that are quite easy to manage, and you will not have to be concerned about watering them as much. In time, you will become adept at adding new plants that can be used with this type of landscaping which is becoming extremely popular.

xeriscape landscaping flora

At Down to Earth Services, we are passionate about native landscape design!  It is our goal to solve issues in nature with ecological landscape solutions that are both beautiful and functional.  For information on how we can help with your landscaping project or to purchase plants that are beautifully native to your area, Contact Us Today!


wildlife garden tips

Top 10 Best Plants for A Wildlife Garden

If you have space and the inclination, creating a wildlife garden can be a wonderful addition to your outdoor space. And while many of the homes in your area may have a more modern look to their landscaping, the beauty of a natural and wild garden can be just as beautiful and appealing to the neighborhood.  A wildlife garden includes the beauty of plants, with the benefit of attracting all shapes and sizes of nature’s creatures.  Keep reading to learn about the necessary elements of a wildlife garden, 10 great plants for wildlife, and how to keep unwanted wildlife out.

Creating A Wildlife Garden

The process of creating a wildlife garden doesn’t require tearing up your whole yard. In fact, you can do it on an apartment balcony if you choose to. While more space is great, in that it attracts more diversity, you can create a beautiful garden that attracts wildlife in any setting.  A good wildlife garden features four things that wildlife wants and needs food, water, shelter, and nesting.

  1. Food: At least one bird feeder is a must. Red is a great color for both flowers and feeders if you want hummingbirds. Research squirrel-proof feeders as well as what your local birds like to snack on.
  2. Nesting: If you want to invite surrounding birds, give them some bird boxes. Choose your spacing though, as many nesting birds get territorial, although martins are an exception.
  3. Shelter: Grasses, shrubs, trees, and many other tall plants are useful in protecting from predators. They do more than that though, grasses, shrubs, and trees also provide safe resting places, cooling shade, and cover from the weather. If you can, mix up deciduous and evergreen plants alike.
  4. Water: Everything needs water for survival, and a clean water source is a great way to make sure thirsty wildlife visits your garden. Several different water sources or features might give different categories and sizes of wildlife safe spaces to segregate.

birdfeeder

10 Plants to Consider for Your Wildlife Garden

Most plants attract some kind of wildlife.  Even the lonely desert cactus attracts thirsty animals, otherwise, it wouldn’t have needles. Still, you have a lot of influence over who shows up. The following plants bring beautiful wildlife to your yard but also prove to be downright gorgeous in their own right:

  • Aster: This huge family supports 112 species across woodlands, roadsides, pasture, meadow, and prairie. These species bloom in both spring and fall, depending on the ones you choose, especially if you get truly native species that support bees and butterflies.

 

  • Goldenrod: There are 125 species of Goldenrod across the continent, and they support almost as many species themselves. These predominantly include birds, spiders, and insects. This is a great fall flower.

aster

  • Geraniums: Support 23 species with native variants. These aren’t the hanging baskets you get at the grocery store.

 

  • Joe Pye: 42 species find support for this great native alternative to the invasive Butterfly Bush. Snakeroot and Boneset are two of many Joe Pye species that offer lots of pollen and nectar to wildlife that want to call your garden home.

geraniums

  • Honeysuckle: This can support up to 36 species if you plant the right ones. Japanese Honeysuckle is NOT one of them!  We recommend not planting this species. Choose a species of honeysuckle that is native to your region if you want butterflies and hummingbirds around.

 

  • Lupine: This family of flowers supports up to 33 different species. The Karner Blue and other endangered butterfly species are very reliant on this particular plant family. As with any flower, it’s a good idea to consult your local native plant specialist to figure out the right species for where you live.

honeysuckle

  • Morning Glory: This family supports 39 species, but you need to take care. There are some very invasive variants, so be sure to choose a species that is native to the region you live in.

 

  • Sedges: 36 species find support from this potentially endangered species.  By planting sedges, you are helping to protect this species while also providing for wildlife species that visit your garden.  Sedges work very well in grassland, woodlands, and prairie landscapes.

morning glory

  • Sunflowers: These support 73 species. Try combining annuals with perennials to provide nectar and pollen to as much wildlife as you can.

 

  • Violets: 29 species use these as a source for nourishment and life. Fritillaries, often endangered, are butterflies that use them as host plants. Violets are great for early spring color and some starter wildlife habitat.

sunflower

Keeping Unwanted Wildlife Out of Your Garden

When you create your wildlife garden, the first things that come to mind are the beauty of the landscape and all of the beautiful animals that will hopefully visit from time to time.  The thing we don’t necessarily think about is the wildlife that we want to discourage from visiting.  

It’s a good idea to keep in mind the animals you don’t want that can wreak havoc in your garden.  This includes animals such as squirrels, although cute, they can be annoying.  However, you can mitigate a squirrel issue by providing them with their own feeder so that they do not scare away the birds visiting your native wildlife garden

Additional wildlife that you will want to avoid include skunks, rodents, raccoons, and possibly rabbits and deer.  Keeping your garden tidy and free of enticing morsels for unwanted creatures is a great way to start.  Be sure to get rid of any left-over fruit and other food items that you have left out each night and consider trays for your bird feeders so that stray seeds do not accumulate on the ground.  These simple suggestions can help keep the visiting wildlife safe from becoming dinner for unwanted critters.

keeping pests out of wildlife gardens

Here are a few ways to deter wildlife you don’t want to see regularly:

Dog Hair: If you have a pup, or can borrow dog hair from a friend, put it around the flowerbeds and herbs. The sheer scent of it keeps most wild animals out that don’t like being near humans or their dogs.

Fencing: The best solution here is fencing surrounding the garden. The height will keep out a lot of creatures, but it also has to be deep enough to keep burrowers out.  You might be told by others that deer can jump nearly any fence, and while that’s usually physically true, they don’t typically jump over anything that they can’t see over.

Raised Beds: If you’re just worried about small animals, then raised garden beds fortified with mesh lining on the bottom and short fencing on top provides tiny plants lots of protection. Birds, bees, and butterflies can still get in though.

raised garden beds

Relax and Enjoy Nature’s Beauty

Creating and maintaining a wildlife garden can be extremely rewarding!  And if you are like us, the satisfaction of creating a beautiful natural landscape that helps to support wild creatures is one of the best feelings in the world!  Once your garden is in place, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the beauty and safe haven you created.  There’s nothing better than early morning coffee on the patio and watching the wildlife in the garden thrive.    

If you love the idea of a native landscape full of beautiful plants and wildlife but aren’t quite sure about creating or maintaining it yourself, we can help!  At Down to Earth Services, we specialize in creating beautiful and eco-friendly native landscapes.  We do everything from design and installation to landscape management.  For more information on our services or if you need plants to create your wildlife garden, Contact Down to Earth Services


winter landscape native missouri

Winter Plants That Thrive in Your Native Landscape

In Missouri and across different areas of the world, many people dread the winter months.  However, winter is a season that has its own unique beauty. For starters, when else do you get to enjoy the beauty of snow covering the landscape like a soft white blanket?  And while many attribute winter to death, to us it is a season of slumber preparing for rebirth in the spring.  Although many plants die in the winter, some thrive.  By adding winter plants to the landscape of your property, not only will you be accentuating the sometimes-overlooked beauty that comes with the season, but you will also be providing food and shelter to birds and other animals. 

 

Remember that not many plants thrive and flower during the wintertime which means food for birds and other animals is usually in shortage. Winter plants can help to provide sustenance to wildlife that visits your property.  In this article, the discussion will focus on the top plants native to Missouri that you can grow to improve your landscape aesthetics this winter. Before we highlight these ‘winter champions’ though, it is important to point out that no matter the season you choose to plant any kind of plants, you must take proper care of them if they are to thrive in their natural environment. For that reason, we will first look at the best ways to take care of your plants during the winter months.

A Simple Guide on Caring for Your Winter Plants

Plants, trees, and shrubs can be planted in the winter months as long as the ground is workable.  It is however advisable to finish planting at least 6 weeks before a heavy freeze so that they have an opportunity to establish a good root system. 

  • If you are planting trees or plants during the winter, first loosen the soil, remove any plastic covers which may have been around your trees while they were in the nursery then plant your trees making sure that only the roots are covered by the soil.
  • Before the snow freezes the ground around the plant, ensure that you provide enough water to the plant. Ensure that the water makes the soil moist, but not soggy around the base of the plant.
  • Adding mulch around the base of the plant provides added protection.  However, be sure the mulch does not touch the plant.  Instead, leave some space around the plant to keep off pests such as aphids. For trees that thrive in the winter, you can wait until the ground has started freezing to start mulching.
  • During this period, your plants will need all their strength to survive. For this reason, ensure that you remove unhealthy and dead plant parts.
  • If you have overgrown plants that flower and thrive during this period such as roses, prune excess branches but ensure that you do this sparingly.
  • Right before and after winter starts setting in, ensure that you regularly check for an infestation of pests and parasites. Should you notice an infestation starting to set in, take the appropriate steps to get rid of them so that your plants have the best chance for survival.

winter plants

Keeping the above tips in mind, we can now look at some winter plants that thrive in Missouri and how to take proper care of them.

 

Plants Native to Missouri That Thrive in The Winter

Although nature seems to be on vacation in the winter, some winter plants thrive in the cold weather.  Some of these hardy plants yield berries or flowers, despite the freezing conditions.  What a wonderful treat to have vibrant splashes of colorful flowers and greenery in the dead of winter.  Below we have listed six of these hardy all-stars.

1. Common Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginica)

Common Witch Hazel has uniquely beautiful flowers that are pale to bright yellow, and on the rare side have an orange to reddish tint. They have ribbon-shaped petals that bloom from mid to late fall.  Common Witch Hazel can grow up to 20 to 30 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide.  It can also be trimmed to grow as a tree or a shrub and is recommended to plant in semi-shaded areas when used in home landscaping. 

common witch hazel

2. Prairie Onion (Allium stellatum)

The Prairie Onion is a species of wild onion that is related to the Lilly family.  This beautiful plant is very tenacious and can survive in very harsh weather.  The bulbs of this plant are edible, and they produce lovely pale pink to purple blooms.  This plant provides both beauty and sustenance.

prairie onion

3. American Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana)

The American Beauty is an open habitat shrub that is native to the southern United States.  This beauty is oftentimes grown as ornamental in yards and gardens.  It produces large clusters of berries that are purple and provides food to wildlife such as deer and birds.  The berries of the American Beauty Berry can be consumed, in small quantities, by humans.  The berries are most often used in wines and jellies, and the roots of this beautiful plant are used in herbal teas.  As you can imagine, it makes for an exceptionally beautiful and unique addition to a landscape.

american beauty berry

4. Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis)

This plant thrives throughout the year with green and glossy leaves throughout all seasons.  The Hawthorn sprouts white flowers in the early summer before producing beautiful berries that can either be gold, red, or orange in the winter. Though it has thorns, the beauty of this plant makes it ideal for landscaping as well as making decorative wreaths for the holiday season.

hawthorn

5. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

This plant can grow into a unique pyramid shape, conical or columnar shape. When blooming, Winterberry usually produces white flowers and during the winter produces berries that are red, white, orange, pink, or blue. What’s more, this plant has a unique history as the early Romans thought that it could be used to keep evil at bay.

winter berry

6. Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

The Eastern Wahoo grows uniquely because, in the early fall, it produces red capsules that look like earrings which eventually open up and produce beautiful scarlet fruits. This plant makes for an aesthetic addition to the landscape and the best part is that can survive through harsh weather whether it is sunny or wet.

eastern wahoo

Welcoming the Winter tide with Winter Plants

While winter may seem to be the end of your lush green and flowering landscape, as you can see, that is not entirely the case.  Adding winter plants to your landscape, that are suited for the area you live, can provide a rewarding show of greenery, colorful blooms, and vibrant berries.  If you aren’t quite sure or confident in creating your winter landscape, Down to Earth Services is here to help.  We are native plant specialists, and we thrive on designing and creating beautiful native landscapes that will provide beauty for years to come.  For more information on our services, or how to get started, give us a call at 816-207-7960 or contact us online!   

 


native-design-tips

Things to Consider When Designing A Native Plant Garden

Native Plant Gardens are often considered wild, and messy with grasses dominating the landscape and wildflowers bursting through sporadically.  The question is, how do you tame the wild but keep the beautiful prairie?  Can it be done?   At Down to Earth Services, we believe that you can have a visually stunning native ecosystem with the proper design for your native plant garden.   

 

After all, there is nothing worse than designing a new garden and realizing it doesn’t look the part or doesn’t grow the way you want it to. This happens all the time for those who have never set up a new native plant garden.

Fundamentals for Your Native Plant Garden Design 

It’s time to learn how to design a native plant garden so it grows well. Here are six of the most important tips a gardener can follow for their setup.

1) Matching Plants to Your Location

Start with the basics, which means choosing the right plants for the site you will be planting in. 

Take a look at the landscape to get the lay of the land.  Is the area you are planting sunny or shaded?  What type of soil are you working with?  After you take a look at these three things, choose plants that will thrive in the climate that you are working with.  If the area is sunny, be sure to choose plants for your native plant garden that love the sun. These plants generally need at least 6 hours of sun to grow their best.  If the area is shady, choose native plants that love the shade.   

 

A beautifully designed native plant garden starts with the right plants for the climate.  For a maintenance-free landscape, be sure to select plants that grow in the same climate.  This is one of the most important things when designing a thriving native garden.  Choosing the right plants will determine if your garden flourishes with low maintenance or requires more effort than you expected.  Planting the wrong plants for your climate will not work.

grouping plants native plant garden

2) Designing for Succession Blooming

Most blooms do not last all year long, so it is important to choose your perennial plants based on the succession of blooms.  Select plants that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall.  By doing this, you will have a diverse garden with wildflowers coming into bloom while others are going out of bloom throughout the seasons.  You will want to be sure that you are designing your garden with bloom cycles in mind.  

You will want to have a good idea of how your native plants look in different seasons to determine the best placement for each plant.  You want to have your plants grouped in a way that they bloom seamlessly and add beauty to your garden.  For added movement, structure, and texture be sure to include different types of grasses.  Big Bluestem or “turkey-foot grass” creates a beautiful background or border for perennials and is a stunning bronze color in the fall and into the winter.  If you choose Big Bluestem, be sure to plant it sparingly so that it does not overtake your blooms.

3) Grouping Similar Plants Together   

While it can be fun to let our artistic side flow when designing your garden, don’t let it completely take over.  There are many practical reasons to group certain plants or flowers.  For the best possible results in your native plant garden, group plants that have the same or similar requirements for sunlight, soil, and water.  This will make it much easier to maintain your native garden.  

 

For aesthetics, be sure to use different textures in your native plant garden.  While blooming plants may provide a mesmerizing sea of color, contrasting textures and forms will add a unique element of beauty and contrast.  

4) Plant Height

Have you thought about the height of the plants?  This is a common mistake many beginners make. Be sure to choose plants that will not grow taller than half the width of the bed. 

native plant design

5) Designing the Contour of Your Native Plant Garden

When designing your native plant garden, the goal should be a naturalistic design.  By imitating what you see in specific landscapes in your community such as a prairie, or wetland, you can get an idea of what plants might grow well in the area you are planting in.  You will also be able to see what plants grow well together.  Something that many people overlook is plant size and the sequence in which they bloom.  Understanding what works well and where each plant should be placed will help you develop a beautiful and healthy ecosystem.  We suggest researching and learning about what native plants are the most dominant in your area to help decide which plants to choose as well. 

6) Weed Control

Weed control and maintenance of your native garden will require some initial dedication.  The most critical time for weeding is two weeks after planting.  Keep in mind that this is dependent on the season as well so if you are planting in warmer or dry seasons it could be longer.  Once your native landscape is established it should need only minimal maintenance.  

 

Be sure to research which plants need to be pruned, how often, and when, as well as making sure that you are weeding out any undesirable plants or plants that start to overtake your space. 

 

Final Thoughts

Designing a native plant garden can be challenging, however, your design does not have to be elaborate.  Consider limiting the number of different plants to 10 to 15 different species.  The secret to a beautiful and eco-friendly native plant garden is all about design, preparation, and planting based on the conditions of your space.  If you are willing to put in the time during the design phase, your result will be a native garden that is uniquely beautiful to your space.

native plant garden

At Down to Earth Services, we are native plant and landscaping specialists dedicated to the preservation and restoration of native plant communities.  We focus on the creation of regenerative and ecological landscapes with the mindset of solving problems and balancing design with nature’s intent for both function and beauty

If you need help designing, installing, or managing your native landscape, contact Down to Earth Services to schedule an appointment.  We look forward to hearing from you and in the meantime, we hope you continue to “Grow With Nature”!