Natural and DIY Pesticides: Common Myths

By Jennifer Gervais

Recipes for DIY pesticides made from household products are easy to find online.
But these options may not be safe or effective.

You’re scrolling through the internet, looking for tips to control some bugs you’ve seen in the kitchen. You want to deal with them just using ingredients you already have rather than buying a product. You’d also rather use a natural remedy because you don’t want to use anything toxic. Sure enough, you find a random blog somewhere (you didn’t pay attention to the site) that assures you that Yes! You can control anything you need to, just by following this special home formula! All you need to do is keep reading.

Before you use the recipe, consider:

  • Natural remedies sound harmless because they are not made up in some chemistry laboratory. However, some of the most toxic substances known to exist are found naturally in plants and animals!
  • Synthetic pesticides are increasingly designed to be less toxic to people and other mammals than insects.
  • Home remedies may include ingredients that have additives that may cause harm. For example, products such as dish soaps or laundry detergents are mixtures of many chemicals.
  • Even familiar pure ingredients such as vinegar can be harmful at concentrations needed for pest control. For example, 20% vinegar can cause permanent eye damage.
  • Mixing or heating substances could expose you to toxic fumes
  • Home remedies don’t come with a label that can help you recognize risks and take steps to reduce them.
  • Home remedies don’t come with instructions for use that have been rigorously reviewed to ensure that the remedy will work while posing minimal risks.
  • They also don’t come with first aid instructions to follow if something goes wrong.

So what can you do?

  • Try integrated pest management first! Identify the critter and learn its life history. That may give you ideas on how to deny the pest food, water, and shelter and take care of the problem without using any chemicals at all.
  • Consider using a commercial product whose label states that the product can be used where you want to use it, and against the pest you want to control. This will keep risks low while giving you the best chance for success. There will be instructions for use and first aid instructions, and a phone number to call if you have questions.
  • Try least-toxic products. You can find information on those products through the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice program. The Bio-Integral Resource Center publishes a directory of least-toxic products.
  • Ask your local Extension office for assistance!
  • If you have questions about pesticides or related topics, you can reach out to the National Pesticide Information Center. Call the hotline at 800-858-7378, Monday-Friday from 8 am til 12:00 pm, or email them at

Jennifer has a PhD in wildlife ecology from Oregon State University. Her work as a wildlife ecologist has included studying a wide range of species, including birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and banana slugs. She has published peer-reviewed scientific papers in a number of journals and written numerous conservation and management plans. She has worked as a wildlife ecologist for the Oregon Wildlife Institute and currently works at the National Pesticide Information Center. She volunteers as a Master Gardener trainee and is also involved in efforts to combat climate change.

Upland Prairie photo album

Summer Retrospective Part 3

Photos courtesy of Casey Colley, Kathleen Dennis, Devon Johnson and Mallory Mead.

Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. The 6.5 acres on the SW corner of the campus house are used for formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun. 

This summer, OCCUH invited the OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers. Together, the group:

  • Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
  • Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow, and
  • Planted a small hummingbird garden.

The Southern Hedgerow at Oak Creek

Summer Retrospective Part 2

By Sarah Bronstein, Master Gardener

Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. The 6.5 acres on the SW corner of the campus house are used for formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun. 

Last summer, OCCUH invited the OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers. Together, the group:

  • Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
  • Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow, and
  • Planted a small hummingbird garden.  

The Southern Hedgerow is a long high profile bed near the parking area for the Bee Lab at OCCUH. The bed is anchored with native woody perennials such as California Lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus) and Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium), as well as show-stopper ornamentals including columnar apples, cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) and coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis). As is often the case in the Willamette Valley’s verdant summers, when the MG work began in August, weeds had encroached in some areas, and plants had grown into one another. The purpose of the Master Gardener Pilot Project in this bed was to weed, thin, and prune the bed to highlight the existing plantings. Empty spaces were planted with ornamentals, many of which were selected to attract pollinating insects and hummingbirds. 

Renovating the Hedgerow proved to be rewarding work. As the weeds were pulled away and spent stalks of Cardoon and Milkweed were removed, Master Gardener Trainee Sarah Bronstein revealed forgotten plants, and made space for new plantings. In some cases, the bed held both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. A rare Heptacodium miconoides was revealed among a thick stand of Douglas aster,  that had shielded it from summer rays. 

Bronstein had the benefit of utilizing OCCUH’s plant stock, including red and blue ornamental sages (Salvia elegans), variegated butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii), and an olive tree. A wildflower mix and wild strawberries were tucked in between other plants to help cover the ground and prevent future weed invasions.

In the coming year human, insect, and avian visitors to Oak Creek will be welcomed by the silvery hues of Cardoon, Coyote Bush, and Milkweed in the Southern Hedgerow, accented by the bright colors of purple Buddleia flowers and ornamental sage.

OCCUH’s mission is to utilize open expanses in a more coherent urban-based fashion. Urban Meadows, Green Roofs, pollinator space, and urban wildlife habitats are all on the drawing board. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help with projects.

The Hummingbird Garden at Oak Creek

Summer Retrospective Part 1

By Sarah Bronstein, Casey Colley, Kathleen Dennis, and Xia Lu

Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) is a learning laboratory for sustainable horticultural practices in both rural and peri-urban landscapes. Its 6.5 acres on the SW corner of campus house formal and informal OSU research, riparian restoration, a student CSA program, as well as just plain fun.  

This past summer, OCCUH invited OSU Extension Master Gardener (MG) trainees to work on a pilot project renovating and planting beds on the grounds. Kathleen Dennis, the on-site project lead, guided the MG volunteers.

Together, the group:

  • Weeded, mulched, and added native wildflowers to an upland prairie area
  • Renovated a high-profile woody hedgerow
  • Planted a small hummingbird garden

There is an inviting walkway between the greenhouses and OCCUH’s rock and water feature known as the “vernal pool”. MG trainees Casey Colley and Xia Lu used a mix of veggie and flower starts to transform the space into a low-profile garden to accent this pool. Native clarkia, Oregon sunshine were still going strong midsummer. Colley and Lu chose plants that were great for attracting pollinators, including

  • Ornamental sage  
  • Hot peppers
  • Sunflowers 
  • Tithonia 
  • Lagos spinach (Celosia argentea)
  • Beans
  • Basil
  • And several other herbs

They packed in so many colorful salvias that the garden became a hummingbird flyway. 

When the collaboration began, the little flowerbed was an open slate.

Later, Colley direct-sowed buckwheat between plants as a nitrogen fixer. This amazing mid-season cover crop is lovely in its own right, and can reach maturity in 45 days!  It lends itself to successive sowing from April to late September. When Lu and Colley thinned the mature buckwheat in September, the soil beneath each plant was the consistency of wet coffee grounds!

The season was a success! The hummingbird garden created a variety of textures, colors, and scents. It sustained lots of pollinating insects and kept Oak Creek’s resident hummingbirds happy. 

OCCUH’s mission is to utilize open expanses in a more coherent urban-based fashion. Urban Meadows, Green Roofs, pollinator space and urban wildlife habitats are all on the drawing board. The Center is always looking for volunteers to help with projects.

We hope gardeners are inspired by these summer memories as they plan gardens for the new growing season.

Master Gardeners interested in helping out on garden projects are encouraged to reach out to Elizabeth Records at [

Planning an “Eat the Rainbow Garden”

By Karen A. Mills, Master Gardener

Nutritional resources reviewed by Tina Dodge, OSU Extension

Photo: nadine-primeau-unsplash

It’s time to plan your garden and even start a few early varieties. Perhaps, like most gardeners, you are taking stock of your garden successes and challenges and considering different paths for this year. Have you ever considered planting an “Eat the Rainbow Garden”? An Eat the Rainbow Garden is a garden that produces delicious fruit and vegetables in every color. Clearly, this type of garden would be vibrant, but did you know that creating this type of garden can also support your health?

Growing your own fruit and vegetables increases your access to healthy food, which in times of inflation is more important than ever. Gardening also increases the likelihood that you and your family will eat more fruit and vegetables than families who do not garden. And, when kids are involved in the planning, planting, growing, and harvesting of produce, they are much more likely to have a diet high in fruit and vegetables.

Growing a Rainbow Garden can certainly capture the imagination of kids, but they are just as important for adults. Rainbow Gardens support health exactly because they include all colors of the rainbow. Each color that we see in fruit and vegetables is created by phytochemicals (sometimes called phytonutrients), which are bioactive compounds found in plants that provide color, taste, and smell. Phytonutrients help out plants by protecting them from different diseases and too much sun. Phytonutrients may help people out by supporting our immune system and offering protection against different types of chronic diseases. Every phytonutrient color represents a different compound, each of which comes with different possible health benefits. See the table below for some delicious and colorful options!

Now that we know what an Eat the Rainbow Garden is, how do we build it? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Location, location, location! It is important to understand your garden site. Get to know your site’s climate, soil, weather exposure, and sun. If you are just starting your garden, this is the opportunity to consider these topics when you select a garden site. Good garden site preparation sets the foundation for a successful gardening experience. For site preparation and selection tips check out:
  • Choose your colors. The colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (a darker purplish blue), and violet (purple). Blue, indigo, and violet phytochemicals are often grouped together, but you can separate them in your garden for a beautiful effect. You can also add to the rainbow by including white, like a cloud! It can be a lot of fun to pick produce based on color. You can choose many different varieties of plants to cover the colors, or you can pick just a few types of vegetables that come in many colors, such as carrots, peppers, tomatoes, or even potatoes! Some examples can be found here:
  • Plan plant placement. Now that you know your garden site and what fruits and vegetables you would like to try, it is time to consider plant placement. It might be tempting to group plants by color in a rainbow garden, however, each plant has its own garden needs. For example, cabbage prefers cool, moist conditions, and cucumbers prefer warm, dry conditions. Even though they are both green, it could be difficult to care for these plants if they are planted next to each other. Check out a resource like  for what plants do well in what kind of conditions.
  • Consider containers. If you garden on a patio or deck, or if your garden site is limited, consider container gardening. Containers can also be a great add on to an established garden, giving you the opportunity to add a plant that might not quite fit into your garden plan or rotation. Look for varieties that are specifically adapted for containers. Blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers, potatoes, strawberries and many other plants have container options. OSU’s Growing Your Own – A Practical Guide to Gardening in Oregon (found here: ) contains many basic tips to help you get your garden started including a section on varietals that grow well in containers in Oregon.  Check out this link ( ) for more suggestions on specific vegetable varieties that do well in containers.
  • Want more information? If you are interested in exploring a particular phytonutrient and the foods and health benefits associated with that particular phytonutrient, this is a good resource: . And if you are science savvy, check out this good, very technical resource on phytochemicals:

Eat the Rainbow Gardens are not only beautiful to see but they can promote healthy eating. With so many colorful fruits and vegetables to choose from, experiment and have fun!

ColorMain PhytonutrientsGarden Options
RedAnthocyanins (including lycopene), antioxidantsApples, beets, cherries, radishes, red onions, red pears, red peppers (bell and hot), red plums, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon
OrangeCarotenoids (including beta-carotene)Apricots, carrots, nectarines, orange bell peppers, peaches, sweet potatoes,
YellowBio-flavonoids, luteinApples, Asian pears, corn, potatoes (Yukon golds), summer squash, winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.), yellow beets, yellow bell pepper
GreenCatechins, chlorophyll, flavonoidsAsparagus, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, broccolini, cabbage, cucumbers, green peas, leafy greens (chard, collards, dandelion, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach, etc.), okra, peppers (bell, jalapeno, poblano, serrano), tomatillos, zucchini
Blue, Indigo & Violet*Anthocyanidins, flavonoids, phenolic acids, resveratrolBlackberries, blueberries, eggplant (Italian or Japanese), figs, huckleberries, plums, purple bell peppers, purple cabbage, purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple grapes, purple kale, purple potatoes
WhiteAllicin, flavonoids, indolsCauliflower, daikon radish, garlic, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, turnips,

*Blue, indigo and violet phytonutrients are often grouped together.

Algert, S. et al. (4/1/2016) Community and home gardens increase vegetable intake and food security of residents in San Jose, California. California Agriculture. 70(2):77-82.  Accessed on October 17, 2022.

McManus, KD. (4/25/2019). Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow.   Accessed on October 17, 2022.

Minich, DM. (2019) A review of the science of colorful, plant-based food and practical strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”. J Nutr Metab. 2019:2125070. doi: 10.1155/2019/2125070  Accessed on October 17, 2022.

Seed Starting Success – Favorite Resources

By Elza Records, Master Gardener Program Staff

A person holds two handfuls of colorful beans. Photo: Filipe Correa, Getty Images.

How do you start your own plants from seed?

What seeds can you plant directly outside, and when?

How you can save seeds from your plants to grow or share?

Here are three research-based resources for seed starting that Master Gardeners regularly share with gardeners in Linn and Benton Counties.

  • Growing Your Own – OSU Extension Catalog is the go-guide for a quick reference seed starting plan for vegetable gardens. Wherever you live in Oregon this publication has a useful start with dates for starting seeds. Inside or out, this guide has all the dates you need. Also available in Spanish, FREE.
  • Propagating Plants from Seed is an in-depth resource for gardeners and small-scale growers. It includes steps to start vegetables, flowers, trees and shrubs from seed.
  • Saving vegetable seeds by the University of Minnesota Extension Service has the basics you’ll need to harvest, clean and preserve seeds for the future.

Seed Library Coming to Corvallis 

A person holds a selection of seed packets. Credit: urbancow, Getty Images

The Public Seed Library is a new collaborative project of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, with the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library serving as the host partner and the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program providing educational resources. The free, volunteer-run Public Seed Library is expected to open at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library downtown by March ’23. 

“This is a natural opportunity to collaborate to benefit so many, so easily!” said Jill Farrow, who is a member of both organizations. “The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Food Action Team puts on the free Edible Garden Tour each year to increase local food consumption and support home gardening. The Benton County Master Gardeners provide many educational resources for gardening. The new Public Seed Library leverages the strengths of these two community volunteer organizations.”  

This will be a seed-sharing library to share sustenance: Give what you can, and receive seeds and garden knowledge on how to plan a garden, grow vegetables, and companion herbs and flowers too for pollinators and other beneficial insects. 

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is looking for volunteers to collect donated seeds, then help organize and inventory seed packets to stock the new Public Seed Library. If you’re an individual interested in volunteering, or a company interested in making a tax-deductible donation of commercial seed packets, reach out to connect with the Food Action Team now here

As the educational partner, Benton County Master Gardeners will offer vegetable garden planning and growing lectures, as well as staff pop-up Plant Clinic help desks at the Corvallis Public Library next spring and summer. The Public Seed Library will be available to everyone who visits the Corvallis Public Library, for their personal use, regardless of whether they have a library card. It’s intended to support new and experienced home gardeners too.  

These local organizations already partner with others to provide the free Corvallis Garden Resource Guide and gardening educational outreach through the Neighborhood Planters Kiosks project. Corvallis has an active gardening community and three family-owned retail nurseries that support local school gardens, community gardening, and natural area conservation groups. There’s a lot of programming support for people who are looking to start gardening or grow more of their own food. “The Public Seed Library will benefit all: current gardeners who will have free access to a broader variety of seeds, new gardeners, and the environment too,” Farrow says. 

The Public Seed Library will be stocked exclusively with donated vegetable, herb, and flower commercial seed packets “Packed for 2022.” Please consider donating new or open and partially used seed packets if you’re a home gardener who has left over commercial seed packets “Packed for 2022”. Donations from the general public will be collected from mid-December through January ’23 at two drop-off donation sites: 

  • Benton County Master Gardener’s OSU Extension Office at 4077 SW Research Way 
  • Corvallis Public Library downtown at 645 NW Monroe Ave inside at the Librarian’s Desk 

Look for future updates on the Public Seed Library project on the Benton County Master Gardener and Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Food Action Team websites, also a new Instagram account, coming soon. For questions about the project, contact the Food Action Team here. 

Houseplants for everyone

Resource list curated by Carrie Falotico (Master Gardener Trainee), Leo Sherry (Master Gardener Trainee), and Elizabeth Records (Education Program Assistant, OSU Extension Service)

A variety of small houseplants in a sunny window. Credit: Getty Images

Why this list?

The internet is full of tips for houseplant care. But not all of them are based on science or proven to be safe and effective. So Master Gardener Trainees Leo and Carrie researched these suggestions just for you! Whether you are new to houseplants or are familiar with growing them, we hope this list of research-based resources will support your success.

Which houseplants are right for me?

If you have pets or children, consider non-toxic houseplant options. Credit: Getty Images

How much light your dwelling gets, how much time you have, and the people and pets in your home, are things to consider when picking houseplants.

How do I start houseplants from cuttings?

Many types of houseplants can be rooted from cuttings. Credit: Getty Images

You got a cutting of a houseplant! How do you grow it into a full-grown plant?

How do I care for houseplants?

Some plants need to be misted with water. Credit: Getty Images

Different plants have different needs. Keep your plants happy with these resources.

How do I fix houseplant pests or diseases?

A sticky card is used to trap insects on a plant. Credit: Getty Images

Your houseplant looks sick or has bugs. These resources can help.

What kind of houseplant is this?

A small collection of varied houseplants. Credit: Getty Images

Knowing the types of plants you have is key to successfully growing them. Find your plants in this list, or contact your local Extension office.



Specific plants:


African Violets

Air Plants

Small Aloes – Interesting, Colorful, and Easy Succulents

Amaryllis, Hippeastrum

Asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus

Boston Fern, Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ 


Burro’s Tail, Sedum morganianum

Indoor Cacti

Chinese Evergreen

Croton, Codiaeum variegatum

Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii 




Elephant Bush, Portulacaria afra

Ficus benjamina

Fiddle Leaf Fig Houseplant – Proper Care 

Haworthias – Super Succulents for Small Spaces 

Holiday Cactus

Jade Plant, Crassula ovata 


Living Stones: Lithops


Indoor Palms

PoinsettiasPolka Dot Plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya 

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Pothos, Epipremmum aureum 

Rubber Plant


Shamrocks, Oxalis spp. 

Snake Plant: A Forgiving, Low-maintenance Houseplant

Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum

Split-leaf philodendron, Monstera deliciosa 

Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum

String of Hearts, Ceropegia woodii

String of Pearls, Senecio rowleyanus

Stromanthe sanguinea “Tricolor”

Tradescantia zebrina

Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant)

Native plants invite themselves into the garden

By Carrie Falotico, Master Gardener trainee

There is a growing interest amongst gardeners in the Willamette valley to add more native plants to their gardens and landscapes. What if I told you that some of them might just invite themselves into your garden? This has been my experience in my own garden. I wanted to share these four native flowers with you so that you might be able to recognize them if they pop up where you garden.

Pearly Everlasting  – Scientific Name: Anaphalis margaritacea

I first discovered pearly everlasting growing in a crack in my walkway. I was about to pluck it, thinking it was a weed. But its soft, silvery leaves gave me pause and I decided to leave it alone to see what might develop. After its sweet little white flowers bloomed, I was able to identify it as pearly everlasting. I learned that it is an incredibly drought-tolerant perennial that is native to most of the United States except for the southwest. It’s also very attractive to pollinators like mining bees, American Lady butterflies, Painted Lady butterflies, the Everlasting Tebenna moth, and sweat bees.

When the flowers dry out, they make attractive additions to floral arrangements.

Fun Fact: “Pearly Everlasting is one of the first plants to colonize recently burned forests. When the rain comes after a fire season, Pearly Everlasting sends out rhizomes that allow the plant to spread rapidly across nutrient-rich areas.” 

Find out more about Pearly Everlasting

Douglas Aster Scientific Name: Aster subspicatus or Symphyotrichum subspicatum

Douglas aster Volunteering in my native flower bed with Rose Checkermallow and with Nootka Rose. Credit: Carrie Falotico

I first spied Douglas aster popping up in an area of my yard between a flowering quince and a lavender-bloomed rhododendron. I almost missed it amongst the Nootka rose, (which I will get to presently). It’s probably because the Nootka rose was so dense that I couldn’t really see the Douglas aster until the delicate light purple flowers began to open. I was smitten! 

Much like Pearly everlasting, Douglas aster is quite hardy and will tolerate a variety of light and soil conditions. It is drought and is deer resistant. It’s native along the west coast from Alaska to California, also in Idaho and Montana.

Douglas aster provides nectar and pollen to its insect visitors, which include native bees, syrphid flies, and northern checkerspot and woodland skipper butterflies. It may also be a larval host to several different month species.

It can get tall and leggy and can be considered “weedy” by some. It can also be an aggressive spreader, which I personally welcome. It can also be grown in a container, if preferred.

Fun fact from the Garden Ecology Lab: “Douglas aster is a pollinator plant superstar. It is particularly valuable as a late-season pollinator plant, able to provide both nectar and pollen to its visitors when these resources may otherwise be scarce in the landscape.”

Find out more about Douglas aster

Nootka Rose Scientific Name: Rosa nutkana

It’s easy to forgive Nootka rose for almost choking out my favorite lavender flowered rhododendron because the Nootka rose blooms are just so pretty and their red rose hips add a lovely pop of color in the fall and winter. 

Nootka Rose is a Northwest native extending from northern California into Alaska and east into Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. It tolerates a variety of soil, light and drought conditions, and is not affected by pests.

Nootka rose blooms from May through July. The flowers are pink, about 2” across and have a delicate sweet fragrance.

Here are some interesting facts I learned about Nootka rose, as presented in this entry from the Ray Howard Library of the Shoreline Community College, near Seattle, WA:  

“Nootka rose produces extensive rhizomes and grows rapidly, making it an ideal plant for revegetation projects. It is used to control soil erosion on hillsides, road cuts and streambanks. Nootka rose has successfully been used for rehabilitating disturbed sites at Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

“Nootka rose is an important wildlife browse. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, bears, coyotes, and various rodents eat the fruits. Squirrels, mice, beavers, and porcupines eat the twigs and leaves. Nootka rose fruits are preferred by deer, elk, and squirrels. Nootka rose thickets are used for nesting and escape cover by birds and small mammals. Nootka rose provides good cover for waterfowl in Wyoming.”

Find out more about Nootka rose

Common/Western Yarrow – Scientific name: Achillea millefolium

Yarrow in my lawn. Credit: Carrie Falotico.

When we first moved to this property eight years ago, I noticed a small patch of yarrow in our lawn. I was already familiar with this plant, so I was pretty happy to see it. I’ve allowed it to flourish and grow, and now it is quite an impressive patch.

Yarrow is native to most of North America and is a valuable plant for native landscapes and restoration projects because of its ability to quickly grow in disturbed areas, its wide range of soil tolerance (can grow in moist soils except for constantly saturated soils), its ability to compete with exotic weeds and invasive species, its long flowering time, and its value to numerous pollinators.

Fun Fact from the US Forest Service:
“Numerous tribes in North America used yarrow for a variety of ailments. The crushed plant was applied to wounds and burns. The dried leaves were used as a tea to soothe colds, fever, and headache. Yarrow beer has been brewed in Europe since the middle ages. The Chinese considered yarrow plants to be good luck. Even Lewis and Clark were acquainted with yarrow. It was collected during the Lewis and Clark Expedition while they were camped near Kamiah, Idaho in May 1806.”

Find out more about yarrow 

Natives volunteering at your site?

I hope this inspires you to look for natives that might be volunteering in your yard and maybe give something that, at first sight, might seem like a weed a little time to prove itself. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Pollinator Benefits of a Messy Yard 

by Janet Morlan, Master Gardener Volunteer

This post is part of the Neighborhood Planter Kiosk project.

Credit: Getty Images collaged by OSU Extension

Beyond Flowers 

While flowering plants provide pollinators with food, insects also require shelter for nesting and overwintering. Most bees and wasps create nests in the soil or within dead plant stems or in cavities in wood. Many butterflies, wasps, moths, and lady beetles seek shelter in leaf litter and brush piles. Here are 3 things you can do to provide nesting & winter habitat. 

Save the Stems 

  • Rather than cutting dead stems to the ground, leave stalks for insects 
  • Provide hollow and pithy stems from perennial flowers and shrubs 
  • Provide variety of stem heights (8 to 24 inches) and diameters 
  • Cut stems in spring and leave stems through summer, winter and at least first half of second summer.  

Leave the Leaves 

Insects, worms, beetles, spiders, and many other small creatures use leaves for winter shelter. 

  • Leave a thin layer on lawns; a thin layer won’t damage it 
  • Spread over flower and veggie beds 
  • Pile around trees & shrubs as mulch 
  • Rake or blow to move, don’t shred with mower, as that harms the critters 

Build Rock Piles and Place Logs 

  • Rock piles or rock walls (dry wall construction) provide protected crevices for critters 
  • Keep it messy and loose, with access to bare ground 
  • Logs with loose bark and beetle holes provide habitat for insects, frogs, lizards, and more 

Rotting log with holes and cracks