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Fall is for planting – natives, that is

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Plants in pots are ready for sale at the Master Gardeners’ teaching garden during a previous plant sale. 

Fall is not just for pumpkin spice lattes and sweater weather, it’s also the perfect time for planting. Many native plant sales are being held throughout the area over the next month -- just in time for you to get plants in the ground now and support pollinators next spring. 

Experienced gardeners know that fall is a great season to plant trees, shrubs and perennials because fall tends to be more forgiving with increased rainfall and cooler temperatures. 

Native Plants_Three Leaved Stone Crop credit Fritz Flohr Reynolds.jpg

Three Leaved Stone Crop 

Many of the plant sales will offer exclusively native plants or have a wide variety of natives to choose from. Native, or local ecotype plants,  are those that occur naturally in the region in which they evolved. They are perfectly suited to soil, climate conditions, and growing season in that particular ecosystem, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NativePlants_Black Chokeberry credit Bob Gutowski.jpg

Black chokeberry

Inland New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Inland New Jersey tea 

Native Plant_New York Ironweed credit Dendroica Cerulea.jpg

New York Ironweed

Native plants tend to be resilient, require less maintenance and irrigation, and provide many benefits to native wildlife and pollinators, said Nancy Berlin, a natural resource specialist and master gardener coordinator for Virginia Cooperative Extension. Native plants are essential to a healthy local ecosystem and they are beautiful in landscaping too, she added.

Native Plants_False Indigo credit Matthew Beziat.jpg

False Indigo 

Native Plants_Three Leaved Stone Crop credit Fritz Flohr Reynolds.jpg

Three Leaved Stone Crop 

Native_plants_Winterberry Holly credit Al Case.jpg

Winterberry holly

Planting native plants creates a pollinator-friendly garden, and even a small backyard garden can make a big difference for pollinators. The Audubon Society encourages everyone to add native plants to their gardens because “each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals.”

The first plant sale of the season is the Prince William Master Gardeners’ sale, which is held at the Teaching Garden at St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow. There will be two dates to shop: Saturday, Sept. 4, and Tuesday, Sept. 7, both from 9 a.m. to noon. 

Many of the plants available for sale are native plants, and they are all labeled and categorized for easy shopping. 

Knowledgeable master gardeners are available to answer questions and give advice about plant selection and maintenance. The plants are all donated from the master gardeners’ personal gardens and those of their friends. All proceeds from the sale are used to support the teaching garden.  

Berlin reminds gardeners not to wait too long before you plant your new native plants in your garden because they should be in the ground well before the first frost. She also cautions that even though native plants take less care, they still need regular irrigation until they are established, which can take one to two years.  

There’s a full schedule of plant sales around Northern Virginia every weekend through September and the first weekend in October. 

This list was curated by Plant NoVa Natives and updates can be found online at https://www.plantnovanatives.org/local-native-plant-sales.

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