When we think of the typical garden, it often conjures up images of perfectly groomed and trimmed plants and flowers amid a clean bed of mulch.
Many gardeners choose their plants based on what “look” they want to achieve, or other desired benefits. However, that approach does not take native species into account.
There are so many reasons to choose native species over mass-produced, ubiquitous landscape plants.
Here are some of those reasons to…
Choose Native Plants
Native Plants Have Better Pest Resistance
Native plants are much more resistant to pests. Do you know someone who grows hybrid roses or tropical imports? They are probably always fighting June beetles and other pests. Native plants, on the other hand, grow naturally in your area. If they grow there on their own, they have obviously learned how to survive the local pests. This resistance to pests also means less use of dangerous pesticides.
Native Plants are Suited to Your Environment
Non-native species often need “babying.” They have to be covered or sheltered if the temperature gets below a certain point, for example. Native plants, on the other hand, come from generations of survivors. They can be remarkably tenacious, needing little tending. They don’t even need much watering, except right after they are planted or transplanted. So native plants help gardeners conserve water, too.
They Will Bloom Where They’re Planted
Gardeners can spend a great deal of time, money, and effort on “improving” or changing the nature of the soil. Some gardeners dig all the existing soil up and replace it with bagged soil. They make changes regarding the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, and they add compost, sand, or whatever is necessary to make the right environment for their plants. Then heavy applications of fertilizers are often necessary to sustain these foreign plants.
Native plants, on the other hand, have learned to adapt to the soil and will grow and thrive just where they are. Native gardening saves a lot of effort in this regard.
Garden with Natives Uses Fewer Chemicals
As noted above, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides (weed killers) are often necessary to maintain a non-native garden. But native plants are adapted to the soil and climate in your area, meaning they need a lot less chemical coddling. Therefore, gardening with native species of plants is less harmful to the environment.
Native Plants Attract Native Animals
Everything from bees to songbirds will benefit from native plantings. Songbird populations are dwindling in many areas. Native plants can help provide a sanctuary and food source for these important creatures.
Keep Your EcoSystem Safe From Invaders
Potentially invasive, foreign plants can “escape” the garden and have devastating effects on the surrounding ecosystem. Imports like kudzu are taking over parts of the southern U.S., and many other invasive species are wreaking havoc. Native species are therefore crowded out, eliminating the food source of local wildlife and disrupting the delicate balance between plants and animals. If you plant a native species and it escapes, it will only improve things and add more of a good thing.