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  For Your Garden  

January 2010

Listen to the podcast of this information.

Winter is a season of rest for the garden. Can your garden remain a showplace in winter? It can if you use native plants in your landscaping. These species are adapted to the Illinois climate, and their foliage can add color and interest to the garden in winter, as well as providing food and shelter for wildlife species. As perennials, you can enjoy them for many years to come.     



prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

Photo © 2009, Adele Hodde, IDNR Office of Public Services. Photo rights available for purchase.


Prairie dropseed is a native grass that can be found throughout Illinois , although it more commonly grows in the northern half of the state than in southern Illinois . It grows in mesic prairies, those that have good drainage but remain moist during most of the year, and also in hill prairies and other dry areas. This bunch grass grows in a cluster and is sometimes described as looking like a “fountain of grass” as the long, thin leaves arch gracefully to the ground from the central portion of the plant. Leaves may be 20 inches long and are about one-eighth inch wide. The plant can be two to three feet tall. It blooms in August and September. The flowers are on individual stalks in a cluster at the top of the flowering stems. Prairie dropseed turns orange-brown in autumn, and its leaves and flowering stalks persist in winter.

For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, the following publications are available through the IDNR order form at http://dnr.state.il.us/teachkids.

Prairie Establishment and Landscaping

Landscaping for Wildlife

Butterfly Gardens








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