In honor of National Seed Swap Day, which is Saturday, the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie has curated a list of native Illinois pollinator plants for home gardeners to consider for 2020. The plants in the list are some of the 160 plants that volunteers, partners and staff are planting in the Prairie Glacial Plains restoration project.
The list of pollinator plants is being released now in celebration of a special day in horticulture: “National Seed Swap Day.”
On Jan. 26, 2006, a chilly day in Washington, DC, gardeners with visions of spring came together for the first-ever National Seed Swap Day. The first seed exchange of its kind ushered in a whole new era of Americans working together to build greater plant diversity in gardens. That energy spread to communities throughout the United States where it is alive today.
Home gardeners are curious about plants that are part of the restoration process at Midewin, where volunteers and staff are working with more than 275 species of native Illinois prairie plants. Ultimately over 160 of those species will be planted in the Prairie Glacial Plains project area. The Prairie Glacial Plains project is a 1,800-acre area on the west side of Midewin that was identified as the next area to be restored to a tallgrass prairie landscape.
Many of the plants in the Prairie Glacial Plains project are effective in attracting valuable pollinators. Midewin volunteers and staff want to share the enthusiasm for the project with home gardeners who are hoping to plant gardens that appeal to a wide array of insects, bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
“Purple prairie clover, butterfly milkweed and pale purple coneflower would be three pollinator plants to be sure to include in an upland/landscape setting,” said Midewin Horticulturist Jennifer Durkin. “For a wetland garden, consider cardinal flower, which has a striking red color that draws in pollinators.”
The full list of pollinator plants that Durkin and others suggest for home gardeners in the area is available on the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/midewin/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=FSEPRD694361. The list of plants that volunteers and staff are planting in the Prairie Glacial Plains is also available through the link.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The service manages 193 million acres of public land across the country, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.
Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20% of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.
For information, visit the website www.fs.fed.us.