Gardening in Kansas can be challenging at times—heat in summer, extreme cold and wind in winter, heavy rains or drought conditions. All of these factors combine to make it difficult to develop a thriving garden in our area. Using plants and techniques that are adapted to our local climate makes gardening easier, less costly and more sustainable. Choosing the right plants for the right place in your yard helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and watering, as well as providing plants beneficial to native pollinating insects and birds.
Manhattan Public Library has several books that offer advice specific to gardening in the Midwest.
The Complete Guide to Western Plains Gardening by Lynn Steiner offers practical information and step-by-step photographs to help you through the basic techniques of gardening. Written for areas of the Midwest from Southern Canada through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, this book can help you choose just the right plants for your garden.
Prairie Lands Gardener’s Guide by Cathy Barash features 167 plants suggested for our area for a successful garden, ranging from flowering annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses. Full color photographs of each plant accompany advice on planting, growing and care of each plant, as well as sun requirements and, information on birds and other wildlife attracted by the plantings.
Perennials for Midwestern Gardens: Proven Plants for the Heartland by Anthony Kahtz contains 140 in-depth plant profiles as well as 260 additional recommendations. Each plant entry gives the common name of the plant as well as descriptions of its flowers, soil and sun requirements, propagation, insect or disease problems, and recommendations on where and how to plant.
Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden is a guide to all types of plants selected for their wide adaptability. Although this book suggests plants for gardens across the U.S.,each of the entries discusses soil and sun needs, mature size, creative design ideas, and recommendations for companion plants.
Their suggestions make creating gardens that require less water easier and more practical.
Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by Allan M. Armitage is an excellent authoritative guide to native plants. Concise information on hundreds of species of native perennials and annuals is discussed, with entries including descriptions of plants and their habitats, hardiness and growing requirements. In addition, the author has included internet sites, addresses of nurseries, and other recommended publications for further information.
Xeriscape Handbook: A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening by Gayle Weinstein focuses on growing plants in arid and semi-arid areas, conserving natural resources in our gardens, creating an awareness of the natural environment and applying the principles of xeriscaping to your garden. Besides suggestions for selecting the correct plants for the area, the author also discusses the landscaping and maintenance techniques that will help your low-water garden thrive.
Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes by David Winger offers suggestions for adding color to your garden through all seasons of the year. This is a perfect book for gardeners wanting to conserve water and mix colors and textures of flowers, shrubs and trees in their landscape.
In addition to browsing the books available at Manhattan Public Library, the best resource for local gardening advice is our Riley County K-State Research and Extension office, located in Room 220 at 110 Courthouse Plaza. Extension agents can offer lawn and gardening advice and have many KSU Extension publications available. Stop by their offices or check their web site to find a wealth of information about gardening in Kansas. Their publication “Low Maintenance Landscaping” is available online.
Check out one of our books or stop by the Riley County Extension office to learn more about sustainable and low maintenance gardening using the best plants for our area and have a beautiful garden even in the most difficult Kansas growing conditions.