First Things First. What ARE Native Plants?
Native plants occurred in the region before settlement by Europeans, are uniquely adapted to the soil and climate of the area, and play an important role in plant and animal communities. They evolved along with everything else that evolved over time.
Because they evolved along with birds, insects, and animals, they depend on them, and vice versa. Birds, insects, and animals need the plants they evolved with to survive. And the plants need them!
Native plants were living here long before we arrived with our fertilizers and pruners. Once established, they provide four seasons of carefree beauty.
Why Should I Plant Native Plants?
If you would like to attract birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, or pollinators to your landscape, native plants are the way to go. These plants co- evolved with them, and provide the habitat and food they need in your own backyard.
Many beneficial insects require native plants for their habitat, whether it be food or shelter. It is really hard to talk about native plants without talking about the insects they support. The plants have a job to do in the ecosystem, and supporting insects is one of them.
Pollinators help create one-third of all the food we eat. They are essential to our survival. Insects also are essential for the many “ecosystem services” they provide. Decomposition of animal waste is helped along by insects. Imagine if animal carcasses and dung never ‘went away’. Insects make up a large portion of avian diets. They play a role in soil richness and fertility. In some cultures, insects are an important source of protein. And, insects help produce some food directly, such as honey.
Will Native Plants Grow for Me? Will I Like Them?
There are native plants adapted to thrive in any naturally occurring condition from wet, soggy clay to dry, gravelly soil, and from hot sun to full shade. When well placed, once established they do not require supplemental watering, fertilizer or pesticides.
Native plants provide four seasons of visual pleasure in your landscape — flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, brilliant colors in the fall and interesting bark and twig patterns in the winter. The non-stop show of visiting butterflies, birds and beneficial insects is added entertainment.
Plant a native plant today! It’s one little thing you can do to make a difference.