According to the University of Delaware, research shows that aiming for a minimum of 70% native plant cover in your landscape is essential to provide enough food to support birds into adulthood. Researchers termed the areas with less than 70% a “habitat sink” or a place that is insufficient to support long-term bird survival or the survival of their young.
As with any type of garden you must consider the growing conditions (moisture, soil type, light, pH). With shade gardens you also need to ask yourself, what type of shade does your garden have? Is some light being filtered through the trees? Or is it shady part of the day and sunny the rest?
Typically, light shade means that the growing area has between 3-5 hours of direct sun. Partial shade equates to about 2 hours of sun a day and full shade means less than an hour of sun per day. In the case of dense shade, or no direct sun, growing conditions can be very limited and one should consider the fact that no plants may survive in this type of growing situation. Some native woodland species that attract beneficial insects to consider for your shade garden are:
- Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) – Grows in part to full shade and in moist, well-drained soils.
- Celandine Poppy or Wood Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) – Grows in part to full shade with rich, humus/loam, well-drained soils.
- Zig Zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) – Grows in part to full shade with dry, well-drained soil.
- Sessile Trillium (Trillium sessile) – Grows in part shade to full shade with rich, moist, well- drained woodland soils.
Native plants provide many benefits to us, our natural resources, and local ecosystem. These benefits include but are not limited to water conservation, filtering out water pollutants, lowering maintenance requirements, and providing vital habitat for birds and many other species of wildlife.
For information on the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District annual plant sale go to https://www.warrenswcd.com/. If you have additional questions, please contact the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation office at 513-695-1337.