Perusing the 2019 Plant Catalogs: Prairie Moon Nursery
Prairie Moon Nursery, based in southeast Minnesota, is one of my 2 favorite online sources for native plants, the other being Prairie Nursery in central Wisconsin. Prairie Moon gives us all natives and nothing but natives. Straight species only – cultivars need not apply!
Prairie Moon has an exceptionally large selection of plants, although most are available only as seed. Their catalog is divided into 2 parts. The Native Gardener’s Companion includes lots of enticing photographs of their more popular plants, along with brief descriptions and basic cultural information.
The Pricing and Cultural Guide lists all the plants on offer without pictures or descriptions. However, there are side-by-side charts, one listing prices and the other more detailed cultural information.
A big change for Prairie Moon this year is its shift away from bare root plants. Bare root plants make a lot of sense in that they are cheaper to ship and may actually offer more plant for your money. But let’s face it: they tend to look like dried squid, and so have limited consumer appeal.
Most of Prairie Moon’s plants used to be offered as bare root only, then they started selling potted plants – but only in trays of 38 (single species or mix and match). This year they are selling lots of species as potted plants in 3-packs. Only a few seem to be offered as bare root.
I don’t know why, but it is a pleasure to mosey through lists of plants I’m already familiar with. However, with each year’s catalog I like to hunt for the new items. One that initially piqued my interest was Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) – a Coreopsis that reaches 7 feet! But then I thought: just what I need, another giant yellow daisy. I love giant yellow daisies, but I’ve already got plenty.
Bunchflower (Melanthium virginicum) is a plant I’m totally unfamiliar with. Beautiful flowers that remind me of Camassia, except that they start white and fade to green, then maroon, and finally black. Plus it grows 5 feet tall. An intriguing plant, for sure!
There was also a species of Milkweed that was new to me – Oval Leaf Milkweed (Asclepias ovalifolia). Milkweed species vary considerably in how easy they are to grow, but I’m always game to try a new one. (A. tuberosa, A. incarnata, and A. sulivantii do well for me, and I’m giving A. exaltata another try. A. purpureum lasted a few years but then punked out. A. verticillata just never took.) Oval Leaf Milkweed is nice and compact with greenish-white flowers.
Incidentally, if you’re interested, here’s a link to an interview I did with Bill Carter, who has been one of the leading lights at Prairie Moon for many years.
More catalogs to come!
I do not remember for sure, but I believe that I got my Yucca glauca seed from Prairie Moon.
I just checked, and they have both seeds and bare root plants!
Oh, I get it. I just do not remember for certain where I procured those seed. I remember when I got them that I was surprised that a supplier that sells other ‘wildflowers’ had it available. I got most of such seed from those who sold seed for cacti and desert plants.
I run into the Prairie Moon website from time to time. That bunchflower is beautiful; it certainly would tempt me. And I enjoyed the interview. There’s so much to learn, and gardeners are so interesting. Keep that low profile, though. I hear the plant police can be as tough as the grammar police.
That’s a scary thought!
Wow, that bunch flower looks great being grown as a specimen plant.
Reasons why to grow tall coreopsis — Its light and airy providing a “scrim” especially amidst shorter neighbors. It’s super skinny, so it “fits” anywhere. Nice clear yellow, NOT ugly gold! Seeds easily (I could probably send you some). Go for it!
OK, duly noted!
I’m also intrigued by the Melianthus, purchasing bare root a few years back. Alas no luck. Lovely plant, would like to know anyone with success growing it.
How disappointing. I wonder why yours didn’t last.
Oh and one more. A verticillata is darn near a weed out here. Perhaps it needs space to run? Difficult areas — gravel edge of the driveway — might be a good location. Seems to be an exclusive grower, crowding out its neighbors.
Wow, I guess I just put it in the wrong place, cuz it just pulled a disappearing act on me.
Hello Jason, I like the bunchflower, I thought it was a Camassia as the leaves are also very similar. I wonder if the two are not somehow related (wait for the inevitable re-classification)?
The online Flora of Virginia lists it as Veratrum virginicum — and shows it growing in my county! Somewhere; we’ve got a lot of different habitats due to two mountain “ranges” and a network of rivers and runs. The common thread among the places V.v. grows is wetness.
So I checked and Bunchflowers are in the Lily family while Camassias are in … (ready?) the Asparagus family. Isn’t that odd?
The asparagus and lily families have had a lot of movement in and out. Daylilies (Hemerocallis) were in Liliaceae at some point in the last thirty years. When it became clear they shouldn’t be, cases were made for the asparagus and the amaryllids; for now I think they’re the type genus of their own family.
The nursery catalogs are such fun to browse. I’m too easily tempted, but the oval leaf milkweed is interesting.
At least with the catalogs you can’t make a purchase with the push of a button.
I love watching catalogs as well Jason. But I prefer to buy plants in the Garden center.
I buy them both ways, Nadezda.
I’ve never heard of the bunchflower or the milkweed. It looks and sounds like the bunchflower would put on quite a show.
Thank you for the posting and link, these two catalogs are my favorites.
They are certainly among my favorites as well.
I love Prairie Moon and have already ordered some sweet joe pye weed for my shady back garden and some porteranthus stipulatus (Indian Physic), which is one of my favorite plants. I bought them as plants in the three packs. I’m excited! I wish I had a spot for the bunch flower. What a cool plant!
Hi Tammy! Never tried Indian Physic, sounds interesting.
A 7 foot Coreopsis would pique my interest, too! 🙂
What a beautiful and interesting post, Jason!
It would be lovely to have nurseries (of perennials, shrubs and trees) near, but since I live far from everything interesting, I daydream browsing seed and plant catalogues. 🙂
That can’t possibly be true that you live far from everything interesting. Do you live near forests, farms, rivers, the sea? It would make me sad not to have plant nurseries nearby, though. So where do you get plants for your garden? Do you collect your own seeds and make plant divisions?
An exciting time of year! A time to dream and plan.
I do like the bunchflower. These catalogs are so tempting.xxx
Yes they are!