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  • Writer's pictureJeanne McRight

Native garden fall to-do list

  • In your pesticide-free native plant garden, watch for evidence of beneficial insects during fall harvest time. You will notice an increase in your garden's production of flowers, fruits and vegetables! Beneficial insects include species of syrphid flies, tachinid flies, beetles and wasps who pollinate flowers and devour garden pests. Familiar examples are adult lady beetles but you might not recognize their ferocious-looking larvae. Adults eat thrips, mites, whitefly, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and many other soft-bodied bugs. Both adults and larvae are voracious consumers of aphids. For a list of beneficial insects and the flowers that attract them, go here>>

Asian lady beetles overwinter as adults in dry, protected areas such as tree bark, house shingles, or even indoors in attics. One female lady beetle can lay up to 1,000 eggs over a three-month period. Photo ©2021 Peeter Poldre.

  • Plant native shrubs and trees. These are a great complement to your native flowering perennials. Woody plants with flowers, seeds and berries are important food for wildlife, and their leaves feed butterfly and moth caterpillars which in turn, sustain birds. Find recommended species here>>

  • Leave the leaves. Please do not rake fallen leaves under trees. This is where your butterfly and moth pupae live during the winter!

  • Leave seed heads on so plants can self-sow. Birds will eat the seeds in winter.

  • Collect some ripe seeds as plant stems turn brown. Place seeds in labeled paper envelopes. After air-drying for 2 weeks, store in ziplock bags in fridge. Sow in your garden in late fall, give to friends or donate to your local seed library.

  • Take pictures of your end-of season garden and share them with us on Facebook. Compare your before-and after photos!

  • Trim back plants if they overhang sidewalks or street, but leave all dead plant material standing. It will shelter insects, birds and other wildlife during the winter.

  • Water plants - including shrubs and trees - before leaf drop.

  • Protect woody plants against hungry nibblers during the winter months. Wire cages around tasty favorites will discourage rabbits, and bark wraps discourage mice. Deer require more elaborate structures.

  • Get the iNaturalist app for your smartphone to help identify plants and wildlife, and report sightings of wild fauna and flora.


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