Local conservation districts selling seedlings

Fall tree, shrub and native wildflower seedling sales will continue through Thursday, Sept. 2, through the Mecosta and Osceola-Lake Conservation Districts. While springtime may be when everything thinks to plant, there also are benefits to getting seeds settled before winter hits the area. (Pioneer file photos)

MECOSTA, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — The deadline is rapidly approaching for community members to participate in an annual program aimed at helping the environment.

The Mecosta and Osceola-Lake conservation districts will take orders for fall tree and shrub seedlings until Thursday, Sept. 20, and for the first time, will have native wildflowers available for purchase.

While most people lean toward spring as the time to plant, there are benefits to planting in the fall, according to the conservation districts.

“Fall offers another ideal timeline for planting plants,” said Rick Lucas, a forester with the Mecosta and Osceola-Lake conservation districts.

According to a release from the district, soil still holds summer’s warmth, which encourages root growth, in the fall season. The still-warm soil allows plants to develop strong, healthy roots. Photosynthesis slows down due to shorter days, and cooler air temperatures allow less foliage growth and more root growth, which means planters can water their new trees, shrubs and native wildflowers less often.

For the first time, the Mecosta and Osceola-Lake conservation districts will be offering wildflowers seedlings for purchase.

Once spring arrives, the established root system allows plants to be more able to cope with varying weather conditions, the release said. Spring-planted shrubs, trees and wildflowers will likely do worse in the same conditions because they don’t have strong, healthy root systems yet. In addition to the weather, fall planting is easier on plants because weeds have mostly gone dormant, meaning the new plants do not need to compete with weeds until spring. Pests also are less of an issue in the fall, although rodents can still cause problems.

Lucas said this is approximately the 70th annual seedling event in Mecosta County and the local conservation districts make this program a high priority. He noted seeds can be used to help fill in habitats, for forest production or simply for aesthetics.

“It doesn’t matter if you plant one tree or thousands,” Lucas said. “Every little effort makes a difference in improving the environment.”

New this year, many of the same wildflowers that can be found in the spring also will be available for purchase. Wild bergamot, butterfly weed, great blue lobelia, purple coneflower and more can be pre-ordered or can be purchased during the conservation districts’ native plant sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, at the Paris Park Fish Hatchery, 22090 Northland Drive, Paris.

For a full list of what trees, shrubs and native wildflowers are offered this fall, see the Mecosta Conservation District website, mecostacd.org, or the Osceola-Lake Conservation District, osceolalakecd.org. Brochures of all available seedlings can be found by clicking on “Seedling Sales.”

For more information call the Mecosta Conservation District at (231) 796-0909 x3 or Osceola-Lake Conservation District at (231) 832-2950 x5.

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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