With so many plant options to choose from at nurseries, garden centers, and other places, homeowners and gardeners can bring nearly any look to their yard or garden. The use of native plants, however, can make gardening easier and more rewarding. In fact, there are many advantages to using native plants. Native plants help support pollinators and wildlife such as bees, butterflies, and birds.
However, just because a plant can grow in a particular area does not mean that it should be grown there. The use of exotic or non-native plants can add expenses and upkeep time, and can crowd out the native flora and fauna.
Easy to Grow Because native plants are already adapted to the growing conditions of the area, they are often easier to grow than non-native plants. There are some caveats to this, however. Within a given region or even a given yard, not every area is equally hospitable to every native plant. Soil and moisture conditions can vary, and gardeners should pay attention to this when they are planting, especially if your soil has been "imported" as is often the case with newly built homes. Native plants and flowers might be able to grow in any part of your garden, but each individual plant will be easier to grow in the area of your gardening space that has the most ideal conditions for the plant in question. While native plants will need less attention overall, the most care-free plants (native or exotic) are those that are matched not only to the region where they developed but also to the best growing conditions for the plants.
Require Less Fertilizer Plants native to your area are accustomed to the local soil and the nutrients it provides, so they are able to find what they need for health and return vital minerals to the soil as they grow. Practically speaking, this means that native flowers and other plants do not need as much artificial or natural fertilizer added to the soil in order to promote health and beauty in the garden. Because they need less fertilizer, they also pose less of a threat to the environment, and are often more disease resistant to local diseases and damage from local insects.
Use Less Water Plants can also benefit the water supply in their native area. Native plants are used to the typical rainfall in an area and have developed to make the most of it. Thus, native plants do not need much additional watering. In addition, native plants in a garden can help improve the local water supply. Native plants do a good job of preventing and absorbing runoff that may contain pollutants. The effect downstream is cleaner water in an area's rivers and lakes.
Help Wildlife As native flowers and plants are supplanted, native wildlife loses their food supply and natural habitat. This, in turn, leads to native animals dying off or leaving a region. The entire ecosystem is upset when this happens. Being careful to plant native trees, shrubs, and other flora ensures that native wildlife will continue to have habitats and food best suited to their needs. Planting native plants can also entice native wildlife that has left the area to return, making native gardening restorative when it is properly done.
How to Find Native Plants for Your Area Finding native flowers and plants for your garden might seem to be a difficult task, but it does not have to be. There is almost no end to the number of resources available to help people find native plants in their area, including ones provided by local and state governments and nonprofits. With their help, you can find native plants that are best suited to your area.