It takes a very dedicated person to run a greenhouse. Spending multiple hours in a day to collect, separate, and plant seeds; watering and tending to plants. The Nature Institute is fortunate to have several volunteers to help us get our greenhouse up and running. Dubbed the “Greenhouse Gang”, the volunteer group works hard to ensure the St. Louis Metro East community has local access to native plants.
In 2014, funds were met for the purchase of the greenhouse. TNI’s stewardship team erected the structure near Cypress Pond. Since then volunteers began collecting seed from the Hutchinson Bird Sanctuary and the Heartland Prairie, both managed by TNI. The first community sale was held in 2016 and continues to grow year after year. Thousands of native prairie plants found homes and all proceeds raised went straight back into TNI’s mission of preservation, restoration, and education.
Native plants offer tremendous value for our local fauna, providing a much-needed food source for our monarchs, bluebirds, American goldfinches, bees, and more. Native plants are also extremely low maintenance. They are sustainable and live longer than their non-native rivals. They are adapted to local conditions and develop extensive, deep root systems; which helps them conserve water and prevent erosion. Native plants are naturally resistant to drought, diseases and most pests. They do not require additional watering, artificial fertilizers or harmful pesticides. Native plants save people time and money and help to build and strengthen our natural ecosystem.
Butterfly milkweed, golden rod, and grey-headed coneflowers are just a few perfect examples of what to plant in your pollinator garden. As butterflies, bees, flies, beetles, hummingbirds and more visit these native plants, you are providing a much-needed food source for them as they assist in growing the yield of your backyard vegetable garden or our local farmer’s produce.
Switching your garden to host native plants is a piece of cake. To offer guidance, the greenhouse gang has put together a quick conversion guide. All of the native plants listed below are example natives from past TNI greenhouse seasons.
The Greenhouse Gang is looking for volunteers to assist them with the upcoming growing season. Have a few hours to give? Volunteer training begins in January.