Alabama Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping
Do you enjoy observing nature…hearing the song of the chickadee…watching hummingbirds fill up on nectar from trumpet vines…listening to the chattering of squirrels…seeing the beauty and grace of a monarch butterfly perched on a milkweed… experiencing the antics of a Mockingbird...the cooing of the Mourning Doves…the swiftness of the Cottontail…and the brilliance of a Cardinal or Baltimore Oriole?
If the answer is “yes”, you’ll probably want to landscape your property for wildlife so you can experience even more from Mother Nature by attracting more wildlife to your property.
Wildlife doesn’t just randomly appear in a given area. It is there because of favorable habitat. The essential elements that you must provide in your habitat are food, water, cover and a place to raise a family. To attract the most wildlife, you need native trees, shrubs, groundcover, vines and wildflowers, many of which will provide food and shelter.
Native or indigenous plants naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. They are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to many insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.
Remember the function served by plants and structures is more important than their appearance. In other words, don’t base your planting decisions solely on what a plant looks like. Following are WindStar Wildlife Institute’s plant recommendations for wildlife habitats in Alabama:
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Tall–Mockernut Hickory, Pecan, Shagbark Hickory, Hackberry, Persimmon, American Beech, American Holly, Black Walnut, Sweet Gum, Black Gum, Oak (Scarlet, Burr, White, Red), Live Oak, Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Pine, Virginia Pine, Eastern Red Cedar
Medium/Small–Box Elder, Horse Chestnut, Paw Paw, Flowering Dogwood, Pagoda Dogwood, Downy, Hawthorn, Carolina False Buckthorn, Winterberry
Bottlebrush Buckeye, Red Buckeye, Prickly Ash, Beauty Berry, Chinquapin, Buttonbush, Black Huckleberry, Northern Spicebush, Winged Sumac, Smooth Sumac, Black Elder, Viburnums
White Snakeroot, Red Columbine, Wild Ginger, Milkweeds, Coreopsis, Blue larkspur, Shooting Star, Purple Coneflower, Trout Lily, Joe Pye Weed, Woodland Sunflower, Gayfeather, Cardinal Flower, Wild Lupine, Wild Bergamot, Penstemon, Carolina Phlox, Black-eyed Susan, Goldenrod, Wild Asters, Tall Ironweed
Partridgeberry, Golden Ragwort, Wild Strawberry, Fragrant Bedstraw, Goldenseal, Trailing Arbutus, Spreading Dogbane
Peppervine, Crossvine, Trumpet Creeper, Virgin’s Bower, Yellow Jessamine, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, Passionflower
Big Bluestem, Bushy Bluestem, Split-beard Bluestem, Broom Sedge, Sideoats Grama, Stalk-grain Sedge, Rice Cut Grass, Switchgrass, Little False Bluestem, Blue-eyed Grass
Alabama’s landscape includes a wide range of natural communities such as costal marshes, beaches, flood plains, terraces, coastal plains, prairies, Piedmont and Appalachian plateaus, limestone valleys and uplands. The Alabama Wildflower Society can provide lists of plants for a specific region.
For more information on improving your wildlife habitat, visit the WindStar Wildlife Institute web site. On the web site, you can also apply to certify your property as a wildlife habitat, register for the “Certified Wildlife Habitat Naturalist e-Learning course, become a member and sign up for the FREE WindStar Wildlife Garden Weekly e-mail newsletter.