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FutureStarrAIndiana Native Grasses
Native grasses are long lived and have little insect and disease problems. They improve the soil and reduce erosion because their root system is extensive. While typical turf grass develops roots within 2-6 inches of soil depth, native grasses exceed eight feet down deep. Once established, they do not need fertilization or water. In the spring of 1998, a group of bumblebees were brought in from the west coast and sampled by Professor Chris C. Gemma of Northern Iowa University. The plants were examined in detail to retrieve the pollen load they were carrying and the resulting data presented at the North American Intercollegiate Botanical Conference in Indianapolis.
There are two classes of grasses: warm season and cool season. Warm season grasses are bunch grasses (clumps) that grow vigorously during hot summer months. They like hot and dry sites. Seed matures in the fall. Conversely, cool season grasses like it cool with growth during spring and fall; seeds mature late summer. Cool season grasses are found in open woodland or wet to mesic prairies. Native warm-season grasses serve as the essential backbone of prairies and provide food and cover late in the year. Native cool-season grasses fulfill an important role on prairies and other natural communities, by providing forage and seeds early in the growing season.While grasses dominate the prairie, they are intermixed with many forbs (wildflowers).Native plants are defined as species which are present in our natural ecosystems in the absence of human interference.
Native plants were not brought here as ornamentals, nor did we accidentally import them. They were here long before us. Native plant species are vital to our ecosystems because they have developed important, often crucial, relationships with our wildlife. IWF encourages using native species in your home garden because it offers an opportunity to fulfil our responsibility as stewards of our environment and because it gives you a unique way to experience the wonder of wildlife at home. Native plants support our dwindling pollinators, provide host opportunities for insects who have lost their natural habitats, and are beautiful flowers and grasses you can be proud to have on your property. Since our native species are best suited for the soil and weather conditions in Indiana, they are the perfect plants to grow in your yard. They require no fertilizer, no pesticides, and less water than non-native species, all while attracting and supporting Indiana’s wildlife. (Source: indianawildlife.org)