It’s time to think about spring planting

Bring back the bees.

Bring back the butterflies.

With pollinator populations dropping drastically in recent years, the push to bring them back has spread. But how do we do that?

Photo of a moth on swamp milkweed

One of the best ways is to plant native flowers and grasses in our landscaping, providing pollinator habitat and food sources. Native plantings also offer so many more benefits, and you can learn about all the reasons to incorporate natives into your yard during the next Lake Friendly Lawn Care series program 6 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji.

Naturalist and Dickinson Recycling Center manager Charles Vigdal will go over the natural history of plants in Iowa, the benefits of using natives and will go through a variety of natives to incorporate in your landscaping, wild areas, flower gardens and prairie plots.

“These plants help soil health,” he said. “They increase productivity and open up pores in the soil to infiltrate water. They help with water retention better than shallow-rooted plants. These plants are adapted to our climate, so they don’t need excess fertilizers and pesticides.”

Photo of purple spiderwort plant

Learn about native milkweeds, goldenrod, royal catchfly, wild white indigo, native turf grasses and more.

“Some of my favorites are the milkweeds,” Vigdal said. “We’ll talk about goldenrods, and I’ve added some plants that have uses beyond looking good in your flower garden. Some you can make tea out of or use as a medicine. These plants will look good, taste good and be good in your garden.”

Many native flowers and grasses have been misunderstood for generations. They have been labeled weeds and partially eradicated. However, getting rid of natives has had detrimental effects including decreased native pollinator populations, excess nutrients in our waters and eroding shorelines.

“A lot of it has to do with losing these natural parts of the ecosystem,” Vigdal said. “Putting them back doesn’t just help pollinators, but it helps soil, water quality. It’s all part of the wheels of nature.”

Anyone interested in plants and gardening, do-it-yourselfers who want to do something different in their landscaping, pollinator enthusiasts — a wide variety of people will find the native plantings workshop interesting.

Photo of orange butterfly milkweed plant

Plus, Vigdal will give out a variety of free goodies, from seed packets to coupons for seedlings during the program. If the weather is nice, attendees will also have the chance to take a walk outside to look at some of the natives in the Dickinson County Nature Center landscaping.

No registration is necessary for this free public program.

For more information on the native plantings workshop or other programs in the Lake Friendly Lawn Care series, visit our environmental education page or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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