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August 2017
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Native plants help sustain wildlife

Fueling station — A monarch butterfly relies on the fall-blooming aster and other native plants for nectar as it migrates south for winter. © Fotolia

Fueling station — A monarch butterfly relies on the fall-blooming aster and other native plants for nectar as it migrates south for winter. © Fotolia

The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society’s annual conference features Douglas W. Tallamy, a University of Delaware professor who specializes on the sustainable relationships among insects, wildlife and plants.

In his book, Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens (Timber Press, $27.95, hard cover), he writes of the unbreakable link between native plants and native wildlife.

The bugs, birds and other fauna are hard wired to seek food and shelter from native plants or to use them for laying eggs. The relationship is a matter of their survival and as we sprawl into the suburbs, we destroy or disrupt the natural habitat of birds, butterflies and other creatures.

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Rain may be cause of brown patches in lawn

Lawn disease - Dollar spot lesion. (Photo courtesy North Carolina State University)

Lawn disease - Dollar spot lesion. (Photo courtesy North Carolina State University)

Recently, there has been a spate of queries about lawn care and disease.

A woman wrote and sent photos to the Marion County Master Gardeners to ask about the brown areas on her lawn. The condition was diagnosed as the disease dollar spot. With dollar spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa), you usually see a tan band with a reddish border on a green blade of grass.

This is a common condition that may occur with heavy rains, such as we’ve had the last few weeks, explains Steve Mayer, a horticultural educator at Purdue University Extension in Indianapolis. Heavy rains wash the nitrogen through the soil faster than usual. Low nitrogen may allow this fungus disease to sprout. If there is low fertility or a lack of fertilizer, the disease may show up in the lawn.

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