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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Purple Prairie Clover

It’s always fun to learn a little bit more about Iowa’s wild prairie flowers – especially during the summer when most are in full bloom and we’re out exploring nature.

All Rights Reserved Megan BannisterName: Dalea purpurea (commonly known as Purple Prairie Clover)

Location: Can be found from Indiana to Montana, south in Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas and New Mexico, as well as parts of eastern New York

Fun Facts

These flowers bloom in flowering wreaths from the bottom of the spiked stem upward until the whole spike is covered in bright blooms.

The vigorous taproot can be made into a tea that will reduce the fever of individuals with the measles.

This wildflower helps to correct high levels of nitrogen in soil.

Information compiled from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service