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Northern Sea Oats
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A good bird-friendly landscape includes several layers of plants to supply a variety of habitats. Each species of bird has its preferred niche. Trees are important here, but so are low-growing plants that offer cover to ground-dwelling birds like towhees, juncos, sparrows, and mourning doves. Northern Sea Oats does this beautifully. It also provide seeds for the birds from mid-summer through fall. In spring, birds may return once more to gather nesting material from the dried stems. As a result, you may want to leave your Northern Sea Oats standing over the winter to maximize its usefulness to wildlife.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Northern Sea Oats is a bit of a misnomer, because it’s not really a coastal species—it only looks like one. It prefers moist, partly shaded riverbanks and creeksides and is more correctly called River Oats. There aren’t a lot of Fringes that accept less than full sun, but this is one that is naturally adapted to shady conditions. An American native, River Oats ranges from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and south to Mexico. This hardy soul is also found in Canada, where the mercury can dip to -40ºF.
Let out your inner floral designer! Pretty, dangly Northern Sea Oats seedheads beg to be cut for fresh and dried arrangements. Create a lovely centerpiece for your table or windowsill with this fantastic Fringe.
How to Grow
Northern Sea Oats is easy to grow for even novice gardeners. Give it a site in full sun or part shade. It will appreciate regular water in sun; in shady situations it will need less irrigation and can withstand periods of drought. Northern Sea Oats may reseed prolifically when happy. Don’t plant it near dainty plants that may be overtaken; it’s better as a space filler where seedlings are welcome. Cut back plants in late winter or whenever they begin to look unsightly. This is a warm-season grower that gets a late start in spring. Have patience.
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