Louisiana 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 Louisiana:
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, Bald Cypress, Longleaf Pine, Loblolly Pine, Eastern Red Cedar
Medium/Small – Box Elder, Horse Chestnut, Paw Paw, Flowering Dogwood, Pagoda Dogwood, Downy Hawthorn, Carolina False Buckthorn,Winterberry
Red Buckeye, Prickly Ash, Beauty Berry, Chinquapin, Buttonbush, 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, Side Oats Grama, Stalk-grain Sedge, Rice Cut Grass. Switchgrass, Little False Bluestem, Blue-eyed Grass
Louisiana can be divided into three geographic land areas. The East Gulf Coastal Plain lies to the east of the Mississippi River north of Lake Pontchartrain. As might be expected, the land is quite low and consists of marshland near the river. The land rises slightly in the north to rolling hills. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain stretches along the Mississippi River from Arkansas in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. This area along the river is characterized by ridges and hollows. The land contour slopes away from the frontlands to the “backlands”, comprised of clay and silt. The Mississippi Delta, at the mouth of the Mississippi River covers about 13,000 square miles (about 1/4 of Louisiana) and consists of silt deposited by the river and is the most fertile area of Louisiana.
The West Gulf Coastal Plain lies west of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. In the south, along the gulf, are barrier beaches. Behind the barrier beaches are marshes that extend about 20 miles north into the interior of Louisiana. To the north of the marshlands are the Louisiana Prairies, characterized by gently rolling landscape. The Louisiana Native Plant Society can provide lists of plants for a specific area.
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.