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The Gardener’s Guide to Prairie Plants

A comprehensive and beautifully illustrated reference for all gardeners passionate about native plants and prairie restoration
The Gardener’s Guide to Prairie Plants is the one-stop compendium for all gardeners aspiring to use native prairie plants in their gardens. Neil Diboll and Hilary Cox—two renowned prairie gardeners—compile more than four decades’ worth of research to offer a wide-ranging and definitive reference for starting and maintaining prairie and meadow gardens and restorations. Alongside detailed synopses of plant life cycles, meticulous range maps, and sweeping overviews of natural history, Diboll and Cox also include photographs of 148 prairie plants in every stage of development, from seedling to seedhead. North America’s grasslands once stretched from the Blue Ridge to the Rocky Mountains, and from Texas to Manitoba, blanketing the mid-continent with ecologically important, garden-worthy, native species. This book provides all the inspiration and information necessary for eager native planters from across the country to welcome these plants back to their landscapes. The Gardener’s Guide to Prairie Plants is a must-have reference for gardeners, restorationists, and every flora fan with a passion for native plants, prairies and meadows. 

644 pages | 1278 color plates, 55 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2023

Biological Sciences: Botany, Ecology


"This exceptional guide to plants of the American prairies offers information about every feature of these native plants that a gardener might wish to know. The text and lovely color photographs present lucid details of each plant’s life from “birth to bloom to seed”. Both experienced gardeners and novices will find ample knowledge of plant lives on these pages. Not only do the authors provide thorough descriptions of life cycles for 148 plant species, but they also emphasize how the lives and well-being of prairie plants are interwoven with the lives of animals, microbes, and abiotic features of their environments. With the information presented in this exhaustively researched guide, gardeners can restore some of the rich tapestry of prairie life that has been lost by conversion of the once vast native prairies to cropland."

James B. Nardi, University of Illinois

“If you are looking for the complete—and I do mean complete—guide to prairie ecosystems, you will not do better than this much-needed book. Diboll and Cox cover not only what prairie species look like at each of their growth stages (a first!), they also dive deep into their historical and ecological roles in prairie ecosystems.”

Douglas W. Tallamy, University of Delaware

Table of Contents

1. How to Use This Book
2. History and Ecology of the Prairie
3. Understanding Your Soil
4. Designing, Planting, and Maintaining Prairie Gardens
5. Prairie Species Pages
Grasses and Sedges
6. Establishing a Successful Prairie Meadow
7. Burning Your Prairie Safely (and Having Fun, Too!)
8. Propagating Prairie Plants from Seed
9. Propagating Prairie Plants Vegetatively
10. The Prairie Food Web
11. Prairie-Seed Mixes
12. Tables

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