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MOUNT AIRY NATIVE PLANTS GARDEN
Mount Airy Community Garden
714 Rising Ridge Road, Mount Airy, Maryland
Why plant native species? Native insects, like butterflies and skippers, rely on native host plants very early in their life cycle. Native birds and small mammals eat their seeds. The nectar from native flowers is an important food source for birds, bees, butterflies, skippers, and moths. When native plants are crowded out by invasive species it reduces the amount of native plant cover and the number of native species growing in the ecosystem. The decline is felt throughout the food web — for example, it can cause a decrease in insect and songbird diversity. The damage can usually be reversed by getting rid of invasive plants and encouraging natives. There’s also another important reason to plant natives: pollination. According to the University of Maryland, “Many Marylanders grow fresh fruits and vegetables for their families. Unlike commercial operations, home food gardens rely almost exclusively on native pollinators. As our wild native plant populations succumb to invasive plants, the pollinators that rely upon them disappear.”
The following native plants are great additions to any garden:
Bird’s-foot Violet Viola pedata Linnaeus. Perennial
Height 4-10″. Plant 4-6″ apart. Does well in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Prefers sandy or gravelly, slightly acidic, well-drained soil with dry to medium moisture. Blooms April to June, with large, light violet-blue flowers almost the size of pansies, and may also bloom again in the fall. The Bird’s-foot Violet gets its name from its distinctive “bird’s-foot”-shaped leaves. Attracts bees and butterflies, and is a host plant for the Regal fritillary butterfly.
(Bird’s-foot Violet )
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta. Perennial
Height 2-3′. Plant 12-16″ apart. Spreads by rhizomes but also self-seeds. Prefers full to partial sun and rich, well-drained moist to dry soil. Blooms June to October with 2-3″ golden-yellow, daisy-like flowers with a dark brown “eye.” There are many similar varieties of Black-eyed Susans, like Rudbeckia goldsturm, but R. hirta is the official Maryland state flower and a Maryland native species. Attracts a wide range of pollinating insects including beetles, moths, small butterflies, and bees; birds feed on the seeds. The Silvery Checkerspot butterfly and the Wavy-lined Emerald moth use Rudbeckia species as a host plant.
(Black-eyed Susan )
Blue Wild Indigo Baptisia australis (Linnaeus) R. Brown. Perennial
Height 3-5′; spread about 3′. Plant 18-24″ apart. Prefers full sun to partial sun. Grows well in all well-draining soil types and likes medium moisture — will need water while it’s being established and then can handle drier soil and is relatively drought tolerant. It is not dependent on soil pH but does best in slightly acidic to neutral soil. Blooms from May to June with blue-purple flowers that resemble pea blossoms (the genus Baptisia is a member of the pea family) but may not bloom until the second or third year. If not deadheaded will produce ornamental seed pods which will darken and rattle in the wind. Mildly toxic if eaten. Deer resistant.
(Blue Wild Indigo )
Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa Linnaeus subsp. tuberosa. Perennial
Height 2-3′. Plant 18″ apart. Prefers direct sunlight and dry to moist soil (very well-drained, poor, dry, coarse or sandy soil — likes rock outcroppings). Prefers soils with neutral to slightly acidic pH. Once established uses low water and can tolerate drought conditions because of deep taproots. Blooms May to August with clusters of bright orange flowers. Does not have the milky sap found in other milkweeds, and so is much less toxic. It does produce milkweed’s characteristic seedpods that burst with seeds on silken “parachutes.” Host to Monarch, Gray Hairstreak, and Queen butterflies and attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Low maintenance. Deer resistant.
(Butterfly Milkweed )
Carolina Rose or Pasture Rose Rosa carolina Linnaeus var. carolina. Deciduous shrub
Height 3-4′, spread 4-5′. Likes full sun. Prefers well-drained, moist, sandy to loamy soil
but can tolerate some clay, with an acid to neutral PH. Prefers deep and regular watering at
the base of the plant while being established but is mostly drought tolerant afterwards due to a deep taproot, and spreads through rhizomes. Can tolerate harsh winters. Blooms May to August with yellow centered, pink blossoms. Host plant for the Apple Sphinx Moth caterpillar and attracts bees and butterflies. The bright red rosehips are a popular food source for fruit-loving birds. Deer resistant.