By Leah Sander
WINONA LAKE — The Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams at Grace College is hosting a free event to encourage the planting of native plants.
Seed Starting for Native Plants is 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, at the Winona Lake Senior Center, 1590 Park Ave. It’s an in-person event, with masks required and social distancing in place.
Heartland Restoration’s Michael Van Laeken is the featured speaker. After his talk, attendees are to get native plant seeds to take home.
“We hope attendees walk away with an appreciation for native plant species and the benefits they provide,” said Center Community Engagement Specialist Caitlin Yoder. “Unlike many traditional landscaping options, plants that have evolved to live in this area, i.e. native Indiana plants, thrive in our soils and climate, and need minimal care once established.”
Yoder said there’s limited access to native plants for people wanting to plant them locally.
“There are a few nurseries in the area, including Heartland Restoration, our co-presenter, for this workshop that sell native seed and plants,” said Yoder. “We hope eventually that more and more local nurseries provide these options as well. In the meantime, learning to start natives from seed is a cheap and accessible way to start incorporating these plants.”
Yoder cited the benefits of the plants for birds and insects. She also talked about how they help the area’s bodies of water.
“Most native plants have a much denser root structure than nonnative alternatives,” said Yoder. “These roots hold the soil in place and help prevent erosion on slopes and shorelines. This keeps excess nutrients out of the lake by keeping the loose soil in place. Too many nutrients lead to algae blooms and poor water quality.”
She also added how the plants help ensure the natural structure of the food chain in lakes. The plant’s roots “also help slow down and trap excess water from rain and snow events,” she said.
“By slowing the water down and allowing it to infiltrate into the ground instead of fast-tracking into the lake, we allow a majority of the pollutants and nutrients to filter out instead of be deposited right into our water bodies,” said Yoder.
The event is sponsored by the City of Warsaw Stormwater Utility and Silveus Insurance.