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Wisconsin Native Plants

Meet Ben French

Ben French is our head propagator and resident plant guru. He hails from a long line of expert propagators that have been perfecting the craft over the last century. Ben and his team of plant experts are where it all starts for many of the plants we produce here at the nursery. When not busy growing the natives of tomorrow, Ben can be found giving demonstrations to local groups and state schools.

Did you know that many of our native plants are grown from locally-collected seed? This keeps our plants 100% acclimated to our soils and climate. While the parent-plant locations are a well-kept secret, we know their offspring will do well in any site!

Why Natives?

Using native plants in our landscapes is essential to preserving our ecosystems. They are a beautiful, functional, and necessary component of thriving natural and human communities. Native plants anchor us to our state’s natural heritage and create landscapes that are uniquely Wisconsin.

Whether you design only a small butterfly garden or elect to make your entire landscape from indigenous flora, the use of native plants will provide you with an appealing landscape, a sustainable environment, and the satisfaction that you are helping to preserve our natural resources.

As we continue to develop, disturb and destroy natural habitats, it is imperative that we give back to the land the plants that were originally there. Native plants help preserve the countless interdependent species of birds, insects, mammals, fungi and soil organisms that form beautiful, sustainable, Wisconsin landscapes.

Fighting Invasives With Natives

Invasive plants may look similar to natives, but don’t be fooled - they’re bullies to our native plant communities. While removing invasive species is the critical first step to restoring an area, planting natives after the site is cleared is equally important.

Invasive plants thrive in disturbed sites with exposed soil and minimal competition. By planting native species, we can address this problem from multiple angles. First, native plants occupy many niches while invasives are typically more general in their ecological role. By filling all available niches in a site, you reduce the chance for invasives to establish. Second, the more native plants you have in a space, the more competition a new invasive has to contend with before rooting in.

In open, exposed sites, use aggressive natives like Milkweed and Sumac to fill-out a space. These will require minimal maintenance to grow well. In areas you can manage more intensively, you may use more sensitive species. There is no panacea for invasive species removal, so don’t be afraid to experiment or adapt existing techniques to your specific goals.

Read more about Wisconsin Native Plants in our archives.