OWENSVILLE, Ohio – Planting native is the best way to sustain pollinators, says Susie Steffensen of the Clermont Soil & Water Conservation District. A variety of native plants that will thrive in this climate are available at the SWCD’s annual plant sale. Details and pictures can be found at store.clermontswcd.org.
“Beneficial insect and pollinator populations are in serious decline due to agriculture and land development,” Steffensen said. “Monocultures (plantings of the same species on large areas) do not provide the food that insects need.”
Monocultures include lawns, land dominated by bush honeysuckle, and crop fields.
Insects evolved along with their native plants and in most cases cannot feed on non-native plantings. Bee and butterfly populations are in trouble due to pesticides, monocultures, and the destruction of weeds and wild flowers, such as milkweed — the only food and habitat the Monarch butterfly larva need to survive, Steffensen said. “The pesticides used by most lawn care companies and those sold in stores kill all insects, not just the ones that cause lawn damage,” she said.
Herbicides eliminate weeds, which are crucial food sources for native insects. “We are encouraging land owners to plant beneficial flowers, bushes and trees to help stabilize and increase these populations,” Steffensen said. “Life isn’t perfect and aren’t a few weeds in your grass worth the tradeoff for a healthier environment? Dandelions? These are the first food in the spring for insects!”
Another plus? Once established, native plants require little or no maintenance while non-native plants may require extra watering, fertilizing, staking, and may be more susceptible to insect and disease damage.
Clermont SWCD’s annual plant sale supplies native plants that are best suited for local growing conditions and provide crucial habitat and food for pollinators and wildlife. Trees such as red oaks, white flowering dogwoods, and redbuds, and shrubs including buttonbush, spicebush, and black chokeberry are among the plants for sale.
“We sell small, bare root seedlings; for best livability, we suggest you plant the seedlings in pots and give them extra care for the first year or two,” Steffensen said.
Prepaid orders can be placed at the store website online: store.clermontswcd.org. Online orders can be taken through April 24.Buyers can pick up their plants April 26-27 at the SWCD offices on the Clermont County Fairgrounds.
If you would like to be added to the Conservation Plant Sale email list, please call 513-732-7075 X 102, or email [email protected].