Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ten Great Native Plants for Dry, Sandy Soils

Flower: June - Late July  |  Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Loam
Butterfly milkweed develops a substantial taproot and is not easy to transplant. Find the right sunny location and let it grow. It is an excellent plant for pollinators, and a larval host plant for the monarch butterfly, queen butterfly and milkweed tussock moth caterpillar.







Flower: Late April - June  |  Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Loam

Prairie smoke's most unique feature is the wispy, feathery ends attached to the seeds that persist into the summer and wave in the wind. The fern-like foliage stays green under the snow and is a welcome sight in spring. Prairie smoke is pollinated by bumble bees who use buzz pollination to release the pollen from pores.
Flower: June - September  |  Exposure: Full - Part Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Loam

Harebell has a fine, dainty form but is very tolerant of tough sites. It's native range covers most of North America except for the southern-most states. It likes high alpine rocky terrain, growing from cracks in rocks on the edge of lake superior and sandy bluffs.
Flower: July - October  |  Exposure: Full - Part Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Clay/Loam

Stiff goldenrod is a well behaved goldenrod with an upright form and large flat-topped flowerheads. The flowers are very long-lasting and combine well with prairie grasses such as little bluestem. An absolute pollinator magnet in late summer, the shallow disc flowers allow most types of pollinators access to nectar.
Flower: July - September  |  Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Sandy Loam

Spotted bee balm can be short lived but if planted in suitable sites will reseed enough to maintain a stand. The interesting whorled/tiered flowers are unique, the lower bracts can range from pink to white in color. If you're looking for a plant that stands out at dusk, this is a good candidate.
It a larval host plant for the gray marvel moth and two snout moths, Pyrausta spp.
Flower: July - September  |  Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Loam

Hoary vervain is common in disturbed sites with sandy soils. It is a great performer in the garden, with an upright form and showy flowers arranged on narrow spikes. The flowers open from the bottom upwards and are visited by bees and butterflies for the nectar. It a larval host plant for the verbena moth and fine-lined sallow moth.

Flower: May - June  |  Exposure: Full - Part Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Sandy Loam
Wild lupine loves sandy soils. It is an excellent perennial for early spring color. The flowers lack nectar but it still attracts bumble bees and mason bees for pollen. It a larval host plant for the endangered karner blue butterfly, as well as several duskywings and sulphur butterflies.









Flower: June - September  |  Exposure: Full - Part Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Clay/Loam

You can't find a more versatile plant than black-eyed susans. It flowers in its first year from seedlings, reblooms throughout the summer months, and is very showy. It can be short-lived but but reseeds. It a larval host plant for the wavy-lined and southern emerald moths, and the 
silvery checkerspot butterfly.
Flower: June - September  |  Exposure: Full - Part Sun
Soil Moisture: Mesic to Dry  |  Soil Type: Sand to Clay/Loam

Fragrant hyssop belongs to the mint family, and like many plants in this family the leaves are fragrant. If you like black licorice, then you will enjoy nibbling on the leaves of fragrant hyssop. 
It can get quite tall in soils that are too rich - close to 60", but in dry prairies 30" is more typical. It works well to mass this plant which highlights the range in flower colors from light blue to dark 
purple.