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Native plants to grow in Suffield
Plants and shrubs that grow in our area as recommended by Peter Picone, as well as information on invasive plants not recommended. Peter is a graduate of UCONN, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Bachelor of Science Degree in Renewable Natural Resources (Wildlife Management) and has been working in his field of expertise for the past 20 years. He has written and co authored 10 publications.
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NATIVE ALTERNATIVES TO INVASIVES
As Connecticut’s landscape becomes more urbanized, a decline in habitat diversity has occurred. Plants commercially available that are invasive, displacing naturally occurring plants, include Norway maple, Burning bush, Autumn olive, Japanese barberry and Purple loosestrife. While the wildlife value and attractiveness of these plants is undeniable, they are extremely aggressive and will take over the surrounding landscape in time, spreading into woodlands and fields. Wildlife habitat can be restored, however, through the planting of native vegetation in backyard landscaping projects rather than these invasives.
Red maples and Sugar maples are excellent alternatives to the Norway maple. Likewise, rather than planting Barberry or Burning Bush, consider varieties of Viburnum, Highbush blueberry, Chokeberry, and Bayberry. All of these have colorful fall foliage, are very attractive to wildlife, and are native to New England.
Additional information on native plants and their availability can be found at www.hort.uconn.edu/cipwg or through the Connecticut DEP.
Purple loosestrife is a plant from Europe that has been taking over our wetlands for over 100 years. Unfortunately, as it moves into wetlands it eliminates native plants such as cattails, grasses, bulrush and ferns. Desirable food and nesting sites for wildlife are lost and there are fewer stopover sites for migrating birds. The Suffield Land Conservancy’s Fuller Wildlife Preserve is one such wetland. After several years of attempting mechanical control (cutting each summer) the Conservancy is going to try beetle farming.
Several varieties of Galerucella beetle have been identified as primarily living on Purple loosestrife. While the beetles will not eliminate the loosestrife, they can seriously reduce the number of plants, allowing the natives to compete more successfully. As the beetles, and the loosestrife, begin to grow this spring, we are going to collect beetles from several sites around Connecticut to attack our Fuller Preserve loosestrife population.
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