Grow Native! Plant Resources for Midwest Farmers and Landowners

If you wish to diversify pastures with native forage, help pollinators on your farm, reduce erosion in your row crops, or plant native trees and shrubs to sell or eat, this resource page is for you.

 

Cattle The time has never been better to use Missouri’s native plants to conserve and beautify your farm.

Our Grow Native! Professional members have experience in

  • Preparing seed mixes
  • Native plantings
  • Prairie and woodland maintenance
  • And more!

Visit our Resource Guide to get help with your land.

Does Grow Native! sell native seeds and plants for farm conservation programs?

No, Grow Native! doesn’t sell any native plant product or service. Its role is to promote those who DO sell Missouri-grown native seeds, plants and related products and services.  Our Resource Guide  will help you find Missouri-grown native seeds and related services for your farm conservation contract.

Why grow native?

When it comes to farm-related conservation projects, most farmers will plant the seeds their families or their community have been using for years. These will generally be non-native cool-season grasses, legumes and shrubs. Through years of marketing and custom, these have become the cheapest, easiest choices to make. However, let’s consider other factors involved in the choice of conservation plants.

 

Find the right seed mix for your project: Grow Native! Seed Suppliers

Cheaper or more cost-effective? Non-natives do tend to be cheaper at the initial purchase, but natives will more than pay for themselves over the long haul. While per pound cost is higher than for exotics, long-rooted natives will stand up to flood and drought far better than commonly used exotics. Because they are adapted to Missouri’s many soil types and situations, natives will also produce and thrive without expensive fertilizers. With cool-season grasses you often have to reestablish after a drought. Natives will do just fine.

 

Easy if you get in the habit

Whether or not something is easy tends to be a matter of habit. Most farmers and ranchers are in the habit of buying and planting cool-season non-natives. It’s just as easy to pick up the phone and call an MDC or FSA agent to find your nearest native seed dealer, locate the right equipment and even find a qualified contractor to install your native plant conservation contract. Grow Native! makes it easy to get in the habit of “thinking natives first.”

 

Better for native wildlife diversity

A non-native pasture is no more useful than asphalt to a newly hatched quail chick. Many ground-nesting birds and other wildlife species need a diversity of plants and structures—including a little bare ground—to forage, breed, and thrive. Missouri-grown native warm-season grasses and their complementary suite of forbs and shrubs provide a full variety of superior habitat for ground-nesters and a host of other wildlife species.

Better for conservation—regardless of the weather

Remember the Flood of ’93? That year Missouri Department of Conservation and other natural resource management agencies noticed that levees planted with native switchgrass were less likely to yield to flood waters than those planted with non-natives. Deep roots give natives the advantage over short-rooted exotics in stabilizing soil and managing storm water. Waterways planted with native warm-season grasses will catch, clean, store and slowly release storm water, keeping soil at home, fields and pastures greener, and streams cleaner. Similarly, deep roots help native warm season grasses endure drought while cool season exotics die, exposing soil and giving weeds a foothold.

Good for Missouri’s Ag-based Economy

Using Missouri-grown native seeds for farm conservation programs is a sure way of supporting your agricultural neighbors. Missouri-grown native seeds not only protect and restore our natural heritage, using them keeps our ag dollars at home.

Contact your MDC Private Land Conservationist (PLC) or USDA office to help plan your project or explain cost-share opportunities.

Native Grasses for Better Grazing and Hay

‘In early summer months, cattle will gain faster on new warm-season grass than almost any other grass.’ Ken Lenox, fifth generation cattle rancher in south central Missouri, quoted in Grazing HayToday’s Farmer

Missouri’s native warm season grasses, such as Big Bluestem, Eastern Gamagrass, Indiangrass and Little Bluestem, will give you exceptional forage long after your exotic cool season grasses have gone dormant. They also handle flood and drought much better than their cool season counterparts. A forb component creates a native prairie meadow and adds nutritional value to summer forage and winter hay.

Recommended Pasture Species

Grasses
Big Bluestem
Canada or Virginia Wild Rye
Eastern Gamagrass
Indiangrass
Little Bluestem
Sideoats Grama

Forbs
Ashy Sunflower
Compass Plant
Foxglove Beardtongue
Gray-Headed Coneflower
Illinois Bundleflower
Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Leadplant
Maximilian Sunflower
Pale Purple Coneflower
Partridge Pea
Pasture Rose
Purple Blazing Star
Purple Coneflower
Purple Prairie Clover
Rattlesnake Master
Roundhead Bush Clover
Roundhead Lespedeza
Sensitive Briar
Showy Tickclover
Slender Lespedeza
Tickseed Coreopsis
Wild White Indigo
White Prairie Clover

Articles

The Missouri Prairie Foundation has been publishing the Missouri Prairie Journal since 1979. Print magazines are sent to Missouri Prairie Foundation members as a benefit of membership. Digitized articles from volumes since 2003 are available online and are listed under their subject categories on these pages:

Plants and Animals
  • Birds
  • Prairie Chickens
  • Native Bees, Butterflies, Moths, and Other Insects
  • Fish
  • Amphibians and Reptiles
  • Mammals
  • Soils
  • Prairie Hydrology, Streams, and Aquatic Life

Plants and People
  • Plants and Humans (Gardening, Food, and Medicine)
  • Grassland and Natural Communities and Prairie Soils
  • Prairie Bioenergy
  • Plant Species and Plant Communities
  • Prairie Natural Communities
  • Other Natural Communities
  • Livestock Forage
  • Education on the Prairie with Jeff Cantrell

Prairie Management
  • Prairie Planting Guide
  • Invasive Species
  • Prairie Management Articles from the Missouri Prairie Journal
  • Native Warm Season Grass News with Steve Clubine
  • Bird Surveys
  • Floristic Integrity Reports
  • Herpetofaunal Surveys

MDA Helps You Fill the Gap in Farm Productivity and Profits

From wineries to row crops and fruit orchards to livestock, Missouri’s agriculture is diverse and rich. And if you live on one of Missouri’s 107,000 farms, you are especially aware of the importance of good land management to improve productivity and to care for the land entrusted to you. Today’s modern farmers are looking for new ways to improve the bottom line while conserving the land. Native grasses and wildflowers could be an answer to filling a gap in your farm or ranch productivity and profits.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) has many programs and services, including domestic and international marketing assistance, to support you.

Find the right seed mix for your conservation contract
Grow Native! Seed Suppliers