Garden Natives and Invasives Webinar Series Offered by Master Gardener Program

The Iowa Master Gardener program is once again offering a series of summer webinars. The 2011 series  titled "Garden Natives and Invasives" will be hosted by Iowa State University Extension county offices on the fourth Tuesday of the month, May through August.

"Plant Communities of Iowa," the first session in the series, is scheduled for May 24. During this session, the history and relevance of native ecosystems across Iowa will be discussed; including geology, soils, climate and human intervention. Information on the role plant culture, such as aspect, slope and soil type, plays in proper plant selection will also be discussed. By learning some of these principles, participants will be better able to design their own landscapes using native plants. Suggested species of native plants for each plant community will be mentioned. The session presenter is Howard Bright of Ion Exchange, Inc.,Harpers Ferry, Iowa.

"Identification and Management of Invasive Woody Plants in Iowa" is the session scheduled for June 28. It will look at some of Iowa's most notorious invasive woody plants, their potential impacts and the life history characteristics of woody plants that increase the likelihood of their invasiveness. Additional topics will be a closer look at how a specific invasive plant (common buckthorn) contributes to the establishment of other invasive pests, and a citizen-scientist project that participants can join to help manage buckthorn. Two presenters from Iowa State University – Jan Thompson, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, and Matt O’Neal, Department of Entomology – will conduct this session.

Participants will discover the history and reach of the Tallgrass Prairie Center during the third session on July 26. The Tallgrass Prairie Center develops research, techniques, education and source-identified seed for restoration and preservation of prairie vegetation. Daryl Smith, from the Tallgrass Prairie Center and University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, is the presenter.

The final session on August 23, "Native Friends and Invading Forces," will highlight the importance of native species and discuss the problems and related issues with invasive species in Iowa. An attempt will be made to define the elusive terms “native” and “invasive.” Participants will learn about appropriate and inappropriate uses of native materials, and also tips on selection of plant materials for use in landscapes with a better chance of not overstaying or overgrowing their welcome. Because gardening success is often largely dependent on choosing materials to fit planting sites, an exploration of reasonable site adaptations will be included in the session. The program will help tie together information that has been presented in earlier programs in the series and will be presented by Rich Pope, Harrison County Extension Coordinator from Logan, Iowa.

To locate a participating county, visit or contact your county extension office.