FORSYTH — Add color and wildlife to your backyard with help from the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and the Environmental Resources Network.
Thanks to a grant from TERN, the Wildlife Resources Division is offering packets of native wildflower seeds designed to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other nectar-feeders. The packets are free — one per family — and available from the Wildlife Resources’ Nongame Conservation Section office in Forsyth.
Nongame Conservation Section Program Manager Jim Ozier said the lineup of seeds previously offered has been changed to promote native plants, which are more drought-tolerant, better suited to Georgia and still a reliable wildlife food source. But the goal is the same: to promote the enjoyment of having nectar-feeders visit backyards.
The mix features 12 herb and grass species native to the state. The blend will provide a meadow effect diverse in color, texture and height. Seeds vary from four coreopsis species to the aster family’s tall ironweed. Sow these low-maintenance perennials by broadcasting them over tilled or spaded soil in full sun. Each packet will cover an area about 3-by-3 feet. Botanist Mincy Moffett of the Nongame Conservation Section recommended adding sand and organic matter to soils that are hard-packed or that drain poorly.
Seeds can be planted after the threat of frost has passed to ensure that seedlings will not face a late cold snap that could kill them. Check the National Weather Service Web site at www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/html/lastfrz.shtml for the average last spring frost dates in Georgia.
Gently hand press the seeds into the ground, add a light covering of loose soil and keep the area moist, Moffett said. He also advised patience. Perennials typically take at least a year to get established and the plants may not bloom this year. But once established, the blend will provide food for hummingbirds, butterflies, moths and other nectar-feeders for years to come.
Hummingbirds consume about half their weight in food each day, a high-metabolism diet that depends on small, soft-bodied insects and easily digestible nectar from flowers or hummingbird feeders. Homeowners who enjoy the greatest success in attracting hummingbirds combine the use of feeders with planting flowers that produce an abundance of nectar.
To receive a seed packet and a hummingbird information sheet, send a first-class, self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Nectar-feeder Native Wildflower Seed Packet, DNR/WRD Nongame Conservation Section, 116 Rum Creek Drive, Forsyth, GA 31029.
The Wildlife Resources Division Web site, www.georgiawildlife.com, offers details on hummingbirds and butterflies.