The leaves, stems and flowers account for only about a third of the total living matter. Why? Because prairie plants have to survive in an environment that is among the most extreme in the world: The American Midwest.
With summer's heat and drought, temperatures can exceed 110 degrees F. It may not rain for months. In winter, the temperature on the Wisconsin prairie where our nursery is located can dip to -40, without the wind chill factor. These plants must have hefty underground "bank accounts" to weather the bad times.
During the summer droughts that periodically visit the American landscape, deep-rooted prairie plants draw moisture and nutrients from deep in the soil. Some prairie plants are known to have roots that exceed depths of twenty feet. This allows them to withstand drought and continue to grow well under extremely trying conditions.
The tremendous root systems of many of these native perennials enhance their ability to store food and water, and help them to live for decades. A prairie is a long-term investment that pays dividends year after year in beauty, and life-giving habitat.
The roots of prairie plants actually help to build the soil. One third of the roots of the average prairie grass die at the end of the growing season. The dead roots decay into organic matter in the soil, becoming natural compost, adding to the fertility and water-holding capacity of the soil. The dense prairie roots are like a giant sponge, greatly increasing infiltration of rainwater into the groundwater aquifer. This reduces runoff and flooding, and re-charges our precious groundwater resources.
Help heal the earth, create habitat for wildlife and make a beautiful natural flower garden on your property... Plant a prairie this year!