How to make a healthy prairie

One of our main goals at INHF is to preserve, protect and restore Iowa’s prairies. In addition to creating beautiful landscapes, a thriving prairie ecosystem can prevent soil erosion, provide crucial habitat for wildlife and insects and promote water quality.

We’ve put together a hypothetical recipe for a healthy Iowan prairie. Our mix contains a balanced combination of grasses, sedges and forbs. Each ingredient was hand-selected for a central Iowa ecosystem, and the ideal ratio of grasses to flowering plants promotes optimal prairie health.

We used a grass, sedge and switchgrass mix, and eight varieties of forbs. Each forb serves a specific purpose. Milkweed, for example, provides a food source for pollinators. The greater the diversity, the more resistant the prairie will be to encroaching invasive species.

Want to concoct your own prairie? Contact a local conservation specialist or find a prairie seed dealer, listed under “Services,” here.

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Nature Walk: Prairie blazing star

“By any measure of beauty, Prairie blazing star is one of the most anticipated prairie species to bloom with its stunning tall magenta spikes. They belong to the Aster family along with a host of sunflowers and bloom from mid-to late July into mid-August. In the months after flowering, their seeds scatter with wind or rain and new plants are self-seeded.  They make wonderful garden flowers and attract butterflies.”

By any measure of beauty, Prairie blazing star is one of the most anticipated prairie species to bloom with its stunning tall magenta spikes. They belong to the Aster family along with a host of sunflowers and bloom from mid-to late July into mid-August. In the months after flowering, their seeds scatter with wind or rain and new plants are self-seeded. They make wonderful garden flowers and attract butterflies.

What prairie are you going to visit to see Prairie blazing stars when they are in bloom?

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net.

View our other Nature Walk posts!