Maryland 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 Maryland:
Tall–Eastern Hemlock, White Oak, Wild Cherry, White Pine, Red Mulberry, Sourgum, Common Persimmon, Shagbark, Hickory, Virginia Pine, Red Oak
Medium/Small–Serviceberry, Eastern Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, American Holly, Southern Crabapple, Eastern Red Cedar, American Hornbeam, Cockspur Hawthorn, Hackberry, Sassafras
Summer fruits–American Elder, Serviceberry, Highbush Blueberry, Blackberries, Raspberries
Fall fruits–Red-osier Dogwood, Winterberry Holly, Inkberry, Common Juniper, Canada Yew
Winter fruits–Viburnums, Northern Bayberry, Sumacs, Red Chokeberry, Scarlet Firethorn, Spicebush
Butterflyweed, New England Aster, Tickseed Sunflower, Joe-Pye Weed, Cardinal Flower, Common Milkweed, Black-eyed Susan, Eastern Columbine, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Grass-leaf Blazingstar, Oxeye Sunflower, Wild Indigo, Spring Beauty, Dutchman’s Breeches, Smooth Sweet Cicely, Common Blue Wood Aster, Blue-stem Goldenrod
Straw Lily, Violet Wood Sorrel, Partridgeberry, Wintergreen, Blue Wood Sedge, Wild Ginger, Golden Ragwort
Trumpet Creeper, American Bittersweet, Virginia Creeper, Coral Honeysuckle
Indiangrass, Little Bluestem, Gama Grass, Virginia Wild Rye, Bottlebrush Grass, Canada Wild Rye, Broomsedge, Virginia Switchgrass
Maryland’s landscape includes a wide range of natural communities from the cypress swamps and barrier islands of the Eastern Shore to the rolling hills, stream valleys and hardwood forests of the Piedmont plateau. The Maryland Native Plant 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.