Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why native plants are important

Native Flower - Echinacea - Purple ConeflowerOver the last several years, I have become more and more focused on native plants. In some ways it is hard for me to explain - even to myself - this relatively new passion. But when I think about it, there are three primary reasons I am so committed to native trees, shrubs, and flowers:

Native Plants support biodiversity. Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home (one of my new favorites - see this blog's side bar) has done some amazing research on how plant life supports insects. What he has found is that natives support exponentially more insects than non-native species. Although many of us could do without insects, we need them if we are going to have butterflies, birds and other "cute" wildlife.

Native Plants are easier to grow and maintain. Natives are perfectly adapted to our climate, and so they need less care and maintenance than most non-natives (invasive plants might be an exception). Unfortunately, that doesn't mean native plants require no care - they still need to be planted where they can get the right light and water requirements, but they are easier.

Native Plants give us a "sense of place". Just as I like to eat in new restaurants and shop in new stores when I travel to a new area, I also like seeing plants and gardens that are unique to an area. I don't want to live in a world where every place looks like everywhere else. Using native plants in our yards is one way to preserve our sense of place and make Maryland look like Maryland, and not California, or Maine, or Georgia (although all of these places are lovely).

What about you? Why are you interested in native plants for your garden?


  1. I agree! Native plants are important, just as you said. I just love the fact that a plant can be so beautiful, yet be native to right here where I live!

  2. Hi Shady Gardener! Thanks for the nice comments. Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the blogosphere that cares about native plants. It is nice to meet a kindered spirit.