Friday, May 2, 2008

Native Plant Gardening

North America is home to an array of beautiful and majestic native plants, ranging from spreading oak trees to delicate pink bleeding hearts, from rampantly blooming azaleas to gracefully arching grasses. Many natives make excellent garden plants, and beauty and variety are not the only reasons why.

Native plants are adapted to local conditions and are easier to grow and maintain. This low-maintenance approach means savings, in both time and money.

Birds and wildlife depend on native plants as a food supply and many times when we displace natives by putting in ornamental plants and annuals that do not produce seed, we are robbing local and migrating birds of their food supply.

Once established, native plants better withstand variations in local climate such as droughts and freezes. Native wildflowers are mainly perennials or self-sowing biennials, so they take care of the next year's planting themselves. They tend not to run amok and invade natural habitats the way exotic invasive plants often do.

Native plants are better for the environment requiring less fertilizer and other additives, less water, and less effort in pest control.

Besides cutting down on the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and air- (and noise-) polluting mowers and other equipment, native plant gardens benefit the environment in other ways:

They stabilize soil and reduce erosion; they more effectively filter storm water than exotic plantings, thus improving water quality; and they promote biodiversity, offering the food, nectar, cover, and nesting areas that local birds, butterflies, and mammals need.

The Native Plant Finder provides a list of recommended native gardening plants for each state.

Try it, and see how many wonderful native plants are available for your backyard!

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