Garden Catalog Review: Prairie Nursery

Prairie Nursery is a pioneer in the field of native plant gardening and habitat restoration. For 42 years this central Wisconsin nursery has been selling wildflowers, grasses, sedges, ferns and shrubs native to the Midwest region. Their website is here.


Prairie Nursery’s is another one of my favorite catalogs. (Are there catalogs that are not favorites? Yes there are, and don’t be a smartass.)

Plants are helpfully organized by type of habitat: clay soil, medium soil, dry soil, shade, etc. They can also be found through the index. There is a wide variety of plants for both prairie and woodland gardens.

Unlike Prairie Moon, Prairie Nursery sells plants primarily in pots and as seed – not bareroot. They have seed mixes and pre-planned gardens, with a great deal of emphasis on planting for pollinators and songbirds.

Whorled Milkweed. Photo from
Whorled Milkweed. Photo from

They have a Butterflyweed for Clay (Asclepias tuberosa var. clay) that is very hard to find elsewhere. As the name implies, this Butterflyweed is adapted to clay soil – most require soil that is well-drained. I have tried it and it has grown well for me.

Among their new offerings for 2015 I was interested in the Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata). This Milkweed species is supposed to stay short (1-2′) and well-behaved, with the added benefit of fall foliage color. The white flowers have a calm beauty in contrast to their wild and crazy pink and orange cousins.

Red Trillium. Photo from
Red Trillium. Photo from

The Red Trillium (Trillium erectum) was also calling to me. This spring ephemeral for shade has a striking red flower. Not sure if I’ll buy any, but I am sorely tempted. Prairie Nursery also has a new pre-planned Monarch Habitat Garden and seed mix.

I’ve been ordering plants from Prairie Nursery for about ten years and have had good experiences with their products.

31 Comments on “Garden Catalog Review: Prairie Nursery”

  1. I’ve never ordered from them but know that will be changing soon, even though I am an unrepentant smartass. I love their plants as well as their principles. Loving these reviews! I added asclepias vert. last fall and an really looking forward to seeing it bloom in the middle of an orange, pink, yellow, and purple butterfly garden.

  2. I found Prairie Nursery last year when I was looking for some Indian Pinks, Spigelia marilandica…I think. No one else carried them or else they were sold out. So I ordered some from Prairie Nursery along with a few other plants I found I couldn’t live without:) I was very impressed by their service, the quality of the potted plants, and the way they were packaged. I will be ordering from them again this year; in fact, I may have to whittle down all the things I’ve marked:) Now you’ve tempted me with yet another choice–the whorled milkweed.

  3. I immediately thought Prairie Nursery would not be for me, down here on the hot, humid southeast. Then you mentioned Asclepias for clay soils. I have tried unsuccessfully to grow butterfly weed, primarily due to my clay soil. So perhaps this is the answer!

  4. Hello Jason, I think a catalogue of “UK native” plants would be rather short and not particularly interesting. I wonder how “natives” catalogues vary across North America, there must be so many climates, conditions, variations. I would find it fascinating to track the differences.

  5. Prairie Nursery is a classic go-to site!

    I have the whorled milkweed naturally in my back 5 acres and I absolutely love it. Yes, it stays about 12-15″ tall; it’s a very lacy, delicate-looking (but tough) plant. One comment: it tends to form colonies out back, and it actually looks even prettier that way, so try to plan to capitalize on that trait in your plantings. I haven’t paid attention to whether those colonies form by seeding or by roots/rhizomes, though, and you might want to check that out for management purposes.

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