Many people love the look of a prairie-style or native garden, where they let wildflowers grow wild. The question many gardeners face is how to keep this style going? How do you determine what is a wildflower, growing as it would in a prairie, and what is a weed?
A lot of people define a weed as anything that is growing where you don’t want something to grow. In fact, Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth.”
Based on this definition, you can think of any beautiful flower that creeps into your lawn as a weed. The common blue violet often spread into someone’s lawn, but is not usually welcome. It is, however, planted in beds as a beautiful perennial. So while it is a weed in your lawn, in a garden bed it would be considered a flower.
While weeds can be beautiful flowers, they are seen as a weed due to the location they’re growing, the habit they are growing in, and how easily they can be to get rid of. Wherever weeds grow, they are in competition for nutrients, sunlight and water with your other plants. They take all of these things away from the area, which is why they are undesirable.
Weeds can also host diseases that then spread to your plants. Mildew is one that I often spot on weeds in my garden. Not only do weeds hog the good stuff like sunlight, but they can share the bad stuff like diseases and pests.
Another attribute of weeds, is that they are often vigorous in growth. They steal the necessities for growing from the plants around them and grow like crazy, invading your garden and choking out other plants. Because of their growing habits, they can be difficult to eradicate. It doesn’t help that some weeds, like dandelions, spread their seeds by air, while other vining weeds have runners that are hard to dig up.
Finally, wildflowers may be considered weeds in one region and flowers in another. Depending on the region you live in, you may consider the same plant a wildflower or a weed. This again goes back to where it is growing for you, the habit it is growing in, and if it is desirable. A great way to define the difference of a wildflower vs. a weed is whether or not it is a nuisance.
So after all of the deciding factors are looked at, wildflowers can be weeds and vice versa. When growing a wildflower or native garden, it is important to keep the plants that have the most attractive display of flowers for your garden. It is recommended to avoid more invasive species, just so you won’t be having to pull them out of your yard as they spread beyond your garden edge.
A few of these choice wildflowers are perennials like gaillardia, Echinacea, rudbeckia, daises, asters, liatris and coreopsis. For more native plants to Illinois, check out this great link.
Each spring we love assisting you all with making your plant selections and designing containers, and now we want to see what you've done! Goers is excited to be starting a new monthly series that gives our customers a chance to show off their gardens. Goers Greenhouse is looking to feature some of our best customers each month on our blog. We want to share your photos of your beautiful garden and containers and hear about your garden story.
How long have you been shopping at Goers?
I have been shopping at Vern Goers only for 1 year
What do you like most about the greenhouse?
What I like most about your greenhouse is that all your plants and flowers are healthy and well taken care of
What’s your favorite season for your garden?
My favorite season for my garden is Spring
What’s your favorite plant & why?
My favorite plant is the tomato plant simply because I have had very good luck with growing a good crop each year
What’s one word you would use to describe your garden?
Small but full of color and very garden like with the combination of annual and perennial flowers and plants as well as vegetables
What do you most enjoy about gardening?
I love watching all my plantings bloom and flourish
Interested in being next month's featured customer? Contact us here and let us know!
As Halloween approaches, we want to share a few sweet Gardening treats with all of you. These simple hacks are some of the favorite ones we have heard of and will make gardening easier for you:
- Get sweeter tomatoes by adding baking soda to your soil. Find out how here.
- Here at the greenhouse, we use pieces of broken terra cotta pots or extra cocoa liner to help prevent soil from spoiling out the bottom of containers. At home, line your pots with coffee filters to prevent soil from pouring out the bottom of the pots. The absorbent liners also help with retaining moisture for less watering.
- Keep your plants watered when you’re out of town with a paper towel and a glass of water. Here's how
- Want an inexpensive wall planter? Try using a shower hanger with cocoa liner or felt, like this one.
- Use a shoe organizer for a vertical garden. These work great for herbs and flowers alike. Here's an example
- Hate getting dirt under your nails? Scratch a bar of soap before gardening to prevent dirt from getting under your nails. When you come in to wash your hands, your nails will be sparkly clean.
- Another self-watering trick: Use old wine bottles for self-watering containers. Here's how
- Make a watering can from leftover milk jugs by following these instructions
- Add vodka to your vase of fresh cut flowers to make them last longer. The reason why this works is explained here
- To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.
- The quickest way in the world to dry herbs: just lay a sheet of newspaper on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will be quickly dried to perfection. What's more, your car will smell great.
- Make a quick tower garden with terra cotta pots of varying sizes. Check out how to make one of these here
- Another vertical planter with terra cotta pots can be made by following these instructions.
- Use car wax to grease garden tools that are getting a little sticky.
- Have slug issues? Place a shallow dish of beer out in the evening. The next morning it will be filled with slugs. Simply toss them out in the garbage from there.