Plant sale makes creating a pollinator habitat easy

Planting native wildflowers has never been easier: the Jefferson County Pollinator Action Group is hosting a plant sale this spring, and residents from around southeast Indiana are invited to participate.

Orders must be placed and paid in full by Friday, March 15, with plant pickup at the fairgrounds in May. Plants are $3 each.

“Here’s what I think is special: These plants can bloom in the first year you add them to your home,” said Vicki Wehner, of Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District. The Jefferson County SWCD is leading the plant sale.

Wehner recently sat down with Liz Brownlee, executive director of Oak Heritage Conservancy, to explain the plant sale. Oak Heritage is one of several community groups helping with the native plant sale. Together, they are encouraging people to plant the wildflowers that native butterflies, bees, and birds need to thrive.

“The plant sale makes creating a pollinator habitat easy – and quick,” added Brownlee.

“Native wildflowers don’t bloom during their first year of growth – if you plant a seed, they spend that first year focused on growing roots. Planting from seed works perfectly if you’re planting a large area, like a farm field or an old hay field, but the plant sale is ideal for homeowners,” she said.

Wehner added, “A lot of home owners want to plant a smaller area, perhaps 10x10’ or a side flower bed, and they want to see blooms and butterflies in the first season.”

“That’s what’s great about the plant sale,” Wehner said. “We’re offering one-year-old plants, so they’ve already got a great root system. They’re ready to bloom this year!”

Brownlee added, “You don’t have to live in Madison to take advantage of the plant sale.”

Oak Heritage Conservancy owns nature preserves throughout southeast Indiana. The preserves are open to the public – as is this plant sale.

“Our members live all over southeast Indiana, and we know that the plant sale will help more people in southeast Indiana create a small pollinator habitat. Even planting a 10’x10’ space with native plants can make a genuine difference for butterflies, birds, and bees. You’ll provide food they need, and a place to lay eggs and overwinter.”

The plants come from Spence Nursery in northern Indiana. Each plant is actually a “plug” – a one-year-old start in a small pot (2 3/8” square and 3 ¾” deep). This size allows for more root growth, which the natives need.

“We think people will be impressed by how healthy the plants are, and how quickly their pollinator habitats can take off and grow when they start with plugs,” says Wehner.

The plant sale includes almost 20 different wildflowers that are native to Jefferson County.

Brochures will be available at the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District, or for download free from https://jeffersoncounty.in.gov/458/Soil-Water.

The brochure explains a bit about each plant, including what soil types and amount of sun it needs, and when the plant blooms.

Orders must be placed and paid in full by March 15. Plant pickup will be in early May, at the Fairgrounds.

“And don’t worry if you aren’t sure what to plant,” says Wehner. “We have some pre-made bundles and some ideas for how to lay out your garden. We can help you get your habitat off to a good start.” These bundles start at $25.

Last year, Jennings County offered a similar sale. Locals purchased and planted over 2,500 plants. Their group is not offering the plant sale this year, but is instead sending customers to Jefferson County.

“We’ve had a lot of help from the Jennings County pollinator group,” says Wehner, “and from all the volunteers who are part of the Jefferson County Pollinator Action Group.”
“We can’t wait to hand off native plants to people,” she added.