Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts:
Tall – Red Oak, Black Oak, Black Cherry, Pitch Pine, Eastern Red Cedar, Eastern White Pine, Maple, Alder, River Birch, Hawthorn, Yellowwood, Beech
Short – Winterberry, Carolina Allspice, Fringetree, American Smoketree, Sassafras, Dogwood, Serviceberry
Arrowood, High Bush Blueberry, Inkberry, Huckleberry. Chokeberry, Bayberry, Sweet Pepperbush, Spicebush, Beach Plum
Milkweeds, Asters, Boneset, Blazing Star, Fireweed, Wild Lupine, Goldenrod, Joe Pye Weed, New York Ironweed
Bearberry, Bunchberry, Checkerberry, Partridgeberry, Lowbush Blueberry
Virgin’s Bower, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Wild Grape
Tussock Sedge, Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, Poverty Grass, Broom Sedge, Rice Cut Grass, Panic Grass, Eastern Mock Grama
Massachusetts is characterized by a jagged indented coast from Rhode Island around Cape Cod. The land rises upward to the west with stony upland pastures in the central part of Massachusetts and gentle hill country in the west. Though the state is only about 190 miles long, from east to west, it is comprised of six specific land regions; the Coastal Lowlands, the Eastern New England Upland, the Connecticut Valley Lowland, the Western New England Lowland, the Berkshire Valley, and the Taconic Mountains.
The New England Wildflower 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.