Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Plant of the Week: Smooth Phlox (Phlox glaberrima)

This may be my favorite spring blooming phlox of all the various species found in this state. It flowers later than the very early blooming species like woodland phlox, starry cleft phlox, etc. and it usually flowers more in the May period.  It also requires a different type of habitat, light shade usually in moist soils (often at the edge of wet woods, moist prairies, etc.).  It typically gets about a foot to two feet tall and is generally unbranched.  However, you can get lateral branches, and hence more flowers, if the central stem is cut early in the spring. It generally has sessile leaves and a taproot, but it appears to make somewhat of a small cluster through seed drop by the parent plant if it is given the appropriate growing conditions.  The clusters of 1/4 to 1/2" wide flowers range in size from a handful to twenty or more.  Flower color can vary from pink to lavender and they are quite fragrant.  This is not that easy of a plant to grow and it is definitely not drought tolerant and will die during periods of extreme drought.  It likes moist, high organic soils with lots of compost.  It prefers light shade but grows in full sun although moisture becomes more important for the plant under these growing conditions.  The flowers are visited by butterflies (typically skippers, swallowtails, and monarchs) and some other small flies.  It is very susceptible to powdery mildew in some cases and the vegetation will readily be eaten by deer, rabbits, and other herbivores.  This plant makes an excellent cut flower.  Great combinations of blue flag, Louisiana, and copper iris would make for some excellent showy displays in the garden for that wet spot as long as there isn't too much clay in the soil.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Plant of the Week: Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis)

This native orchid is difficult to grow if you do not have the appropriate growing conditions in the woodland garden.  It can be planted this time of year, bare root, and needs moist, rich, thick humus soil that are well drained in mostly full shade.  Plants that are dug from the wild perform very poorly in the garden, but those purchased from nurseries do well as long as the plant IS NOT DISTURBED once it has been established and if the appropriate growing conditions are met.  The soil pH should be slightly acidic from 4.5 to 5.5.  Blooming in April, this can be a real show stopper in the garden.  The lavender and white flowers are fragrant and more mature plants have larger numbers of individual flowers on a short flowering stem. The plant reaches a height of about 6" tall and each of the broad oval, dark green and glossy leaves can be up to 6" long.  This species does not have any significant insect or disease problems.  The primary pollinator is the bumblebee which lands on the lower white "lip" of each individual flower, which is a lower petal.  The lavender "hood" is comprised of joined sepals and lateral petals.  The name for this plant comes from the Latin "galearis" which means hood and "spectabilis" which means showy or spectacular. These orchids are expensive in the nursery trade so it behooves you to create the appropriate growing conditions before purchasing and attempting to plant these little woodland gems.  Because this species does not like competition, it is best grown as a specimen plant and allowed to develop a colony over time.  Therefore, companion plants are not recommended.