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Saturday, Jan. 28th,  9am – 12 pm, 1235 Deslonde St., Lower 9th Ward, NOLA Hosted by Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association and Neighborhood Association

Sunday, Feb. 5th, 10am-1pm, 615 Opelousas Ave., Algiers Point, NOLA. Hosted by Algiers-Berhman Community Garden

Saturday, Feb. 11th, 10am-12pm, 1855 Duels Street, 7th Ward, NOLA.  Hosted by Healthy Community Services

These great community partners are helping us with the next three Native Plant Giveaways!  We will be distributing two of our favorite species of native flowering plants, Cardinal flower and Lemon Bee Balm.

Cardinal flower will grow in part shade and likes plenty of moisture.  It loves rain gardens or just plain wet areas of the landscape and hummingbirds LOVE it.  Cardinal flower is a short-lived perennial, meaning that it will come back year after year for a few years, but not forever.  This plant relies on the re-seeding of it's many very fine seeds for its longevity.  If happy, it will produce offspring in addition to the original plant for a long time in your garden.

Lemon Bee Balm, Monarda Citriodora, is a favorite with all sorts of pollinators and people too.  It blooms in the Spring for a long period of time and will set lots of seed that produce offspring the following year.  It likes a normal garden in a sunny area.

Native seeds and "Ancestral Soil" will be a unique throw in the Chewbaccus Parade this Mardi Gras

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is indeed saving the galaxy with the native Wildflower seeds of Clasping Coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis).  The Vampiric Council of New Orleans sub-krewe will be handing out these one of a kind treasures during the parade on January 28th.  They containing NPI-donated seeds of Clasping Coneflower, one of the easiest and earliest  native wildflowers that we can grow here.  If you were lucky enough to receive these gems from your local parading vampire, simply scatter your seeds onto the soil, or into your garden in a sunny spot as soon as possible and enjoy the beautiful flowers and many pollinators that will visit them!

Dracopis

Lobelia cardinalis, Cardinal flower, is one of the most impressive and striking native plants for your late summer garden. This short-lived perennial plant occurs naturally in moist locations, along stream banks, swamp edges, and low woods. In our gardens, they are easily grown in average moist garden beds, but
are also the ultimate rain garden plant. In nature, they are usually found in somewhat shaded situations. In gardens, they seem to be able to handle quite a lot of sun as long as the soil is kept moist enough. One of the most fascinating things about our native plants is how they can be synched so precisely with the wildlife that uses them (not so with non- natives from other parts of the globe.) In this case, the ultra- rich, super-vivid red flowers of this plant appear in late summer, from July to October, on elongated 2-5 foot spikes. These plants in bloom are absolutely showstopping...for people AND our migrating hummingbirds.

Cardinal flower is a plant of highly disturbed areas. In nature, these disturbances can be caused by river or stream flooding, animal grazing, trees toppling…. situations that expose earth to the fine seeds of cardinal flower and allow them to germinate. For that reason, these are plants that “move around,” are rarely in the exact same place for more than a few seasons and rarely live past a few seasons in one exact spot. In our gardens, we can account for that and be sure to always have Cardinal flower in our gardens by replanting new plants now and again and/or creating small, disturbed conditions and exposed areas for Cardinal flower seeds to take hold. If you have a large property, taking seed from the plant and scattering it here and there in places where it is likely to be happy can be rewarding too.

Cardinal flowers make lots of very fine seeds, about the size of granulated salt. The spot on the upright stalk where each flower bloomed becomes a pod full of seeds. It is very important for the seeds to be mature and the stalk dry when you collect it. Because the plant blooms from the bottom to top of the stalk, often the top pods are still green while the bottoms have turned brown. Luckily, the plant holds itself upright and the pouches hold their content of seed without spilling while you wait for the entire stalk to dry. When ready, cut the stalk(s) and place in a large paper bag to bring inside for more drying time. At some point (this was a nice January task for me), the stalks can be pulled out onto a large tray and turned upside down. Many of the seeds will spill out of the dried pod, then the pods can be
crushed to release the rest. From here, it is fairly easy to scrape away most of the chaff and package up your seeds. Bam! As general rule, you can wild sow seeds at the general time of year when nature would have done so herself, so you can fling around Lobelia cardinalis seeds all winter long. I have sown them in trays and in the wild most months of the year, so don’t overthink it. The important thing is to get those seeds out there. Don’t “save” your seeds. Plant them. You’ll have even more next year!

June 11th-12th

The French Market Creole Tomato Festival honors Louisiana's produce, farmers, and our unique cuisine of which the Creole tomato is a star.  Tabling at this fest was a great fit as we honored our unique native plants by giving away seeds and educating folks about their importance.  It was a blast as you can see from our smiling volunteers!  Thanks to the volunteers who helped table the event.  Contact NPI if you are interested in tabling or volunteering for other projects!

This time of year brings such joy to native gardeners as pollinator activity on native plants really picks up and progression of flowering in the garden marches on from one species to the next.  As early species decline and start to set seed, we have an opportunity to collect ripe seed from our plants to propagate ourselves and/or distribute to the community.  NPI packages and gives out native seeds at our meetings and events all over town. We participated in a Memorial Day weekend Storm Sweep event at the lakefront and gave out lots of seeds there and this weekend we will be giving out over 400 packets of native seeds at the Creole Tomato Fest!  Here are some native plants producing seed right now, what to look for and how to collect. Contact us for guidelines if you are collecting extra seed for NPI distribution.

Dracopis

Clasping Coneflower, Dracopis amplexicaulis - This is one of our earliest and easiest native wildflowers to grow.  Once you grow it, it’s likely that it will always pop up somewhere in your sunny garden from the many seeds it produces. Seed heads should be completely dry and shatter fairly easily when raked with a fingernail. Paper bags are best for dry storage.  Only pack in plastic when COMPLETELY DRY.

 

 

Dracopis seedhead

 

 

 

 

 

Spiderwort, Tradescantia -

Spiderwort flower heads

Spiderworts bloom in a cluster of several flowers at the tips of the stems.  The individual flowers bloom in succession, not all at one time, which means they dry and seed matures in succession too.  For this reason, to collect seed, you must wait until almost all of the flowers in a terminal cluster have finished and turned brown before pulling off that clump to save seed.  Spiderworts are fleshy and the seed pods and leaves surrounding the seeds can hold a lot of moisture.  After you pull the end clusters off, leave them out in a flat pan to dry thoroughly before storing in a paper bags. Only pack in plastic when COMPLETELY DRY or you will have a bag of moldy yuck in no time. After harvesting the seed, cut the plant down for a neater look to the garden.  Spiderwort looks unattractive at this stage.

Spiderwort seeds drying on tray

 

Gaillardia

Gaillardia pulchella, Blanket flower - Wait for it, …. wait for it, ……this is a plant whose flower heads fade and dry but must be completely brown/gray before the seeds are ripe and easily collected.  The seed heads should shatter easily when raked with a fingernail.  If they do not, they are not ready to harvest yet.

 

Seedheads should shatter easily when ready

 

Gaillardia....not ready yet

Coreopsis tinctoria, Tickseed - Another super easy, early native flower.  Wait until seed heads are completely brown and dry before breaking apart. Paper bags are best for dry storage.  Only pack in plastic when COMPLETELY DRY.

Coreopsis tinctoria
Coreopsis tinctoria seeds
Coreopsis tinctoria seedheads

"Lawn is an ecological deadzone" says Doug Tallamy and yet it is the default option for so much of our landscaping.  This year's NPI exhibit at the NOLA Spring Garden Show, April 2nd and 3rd, will focus on ways property owners can reduce or eliminate their lawn area and replace them with native plantings that benefit the ecology.  For a more in-depth look at this topic and some of the alternatives to lawn, read THIS ARTICLE.  We hope you will also see us at the show!

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a tree planting initiative created to celebrate British Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this year in 2022.  The campaign invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee” to create a legacy in honor of the Queen’s 70 years’ leadership of the Nation - trees which will benefit future generations.

The United Kingdom celebrates the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year with a tree planting campaign

The program publishes a Queen's Green Canopy Map where you can record the location of your Jubilee tree.  But the Queen’s Green Canopy is on another map too…..the New Orleans House Float Map!

There are SO many reason to plant native trees

Native Plant Initiative member, Tanya Mennear, registered her home on General Pershing in uptown New Orleans with the Krewe of House Floats early on with the grand notion of a Green CanopyNOLA style.  The results are a quirky blend of British patriotism, environmental education and New Orleans funky.  Where else can Big TREE-da be seen hanging out with Her Royal Majesty, William, Kate, Charles and Camilla - all looking on cheerfully from the upper balcony, having clearly just come back from the parades.

Big TREE-da says.....

This hand-crafted exhibition expounds upon the many reasons to plant trees in New Orleans: suitability to climate they weather our weather better,” stormwater management “they TREE-tain water,” heat island remediation “Who Dat TREE gonna beat that heat?,improve air and ground water quality that’s fil-TREE-tion,” wildlife benefits wildlife is PINE-ing for native plants,” mental health “sit and be seden-TREE”, property values “plant like your Flood Insurance depends on it!”… and don’t just plant trees, plant native trees! Other placards include the impressive numbers of insects (in the hundreds) supported by native trees like red Oaks, Swamp Red Maples and Mexican Plums versus non-natives like Crape Myrtles, Rain trees and Bradford Pears (in the single digits) and QR code chains with links to local organizations and information to help with your tree plantings.

some TREE hugging going on here!

Acorn-y jokes aside, native trees have so many benefits to our lives and the environment we live in, Harry and Megan agree that “it’s harm TREE-duction” to get busy and plant our streets and city with the many native trees that thrive here.

QR codes and link chains are used in the exhibit to provide references to info and orgs
NPI Board Members join the royals in promoting native trees to passersby during Mardi Gras

 

Certify your property as a Louisiana Certified Habitat!  Every property, from the smallest city garden to rural acreage, is eligible to apply.  

The Louisiana Native Plant Society invites Louisiana residents, businesses, schools, and public institutions to certify their outdoor spaces as certified habitats through the Louisiana Certified Habitat Program (LCH).  We know that native plants are the foundation of a healthy and resilient ecosystem.  This program encourages property owners to increase and protect the ecological value and natural heritage of their land by recognizing their efforts to utilize native plant species and to enact best habitat gardening practices.  Habitat Certification Levels are determined by the amount of native plant species or percentage of native plant species on a property.  State-wide, over 140 properties have certified to date, almost 50 in the NOLA area, many electing to appear on the MAP where certifications are being recorded.  The levels include bronze, 25 native species or 25% native plants; silver 50 native species or 50% native plants;  gold 75 native species or 75% native plants.  Certification includes a 9 x 12 inch metal yard sign citing the habitat level.  Levels can be upgraded for free at any time.

The Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans (NPI) certifies the Southeast region of Louisiana.  Parishes include: Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, New Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Washington.  There is no minimum acreage requirement. All properties are eligible for certification.

How to apply

Payment is due at time of application.  When the application and payment are received, a representative from NPI will contact you about the certification process and may request a site visit.   A refund will be issued if certification is not granted. Please email npi.gno2019@gmail.com if cost is an issue.  

  Helpful Links: Native Plant Checklist | Guide to ALL Plants of Louisiana (not all native) | Tier 1 Invasive Species|Full Brochure