Why Native Plants are Best for Your Garden

Why Native Plants are Best for Your Garden
  • Opening Intro -

    Home gardening is a pleasure enjoyed by millions of American homeowners, people who find maintaining a variety of plants and flowers to be a relaxing if not uplifting experience.

    Pull up in front of any well manicured lawn and you'll see evidence of a homeowner's green thumb at work. Or at least the work of his gardener!

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Introducing Native Plants

One trend in gardening worth considering is introducing native plants by gradually replacing foreign plants or supplementing those plants with new plants indigenous to your area. Most gardens contain plants that are not native – though beautiful, these plants often do not do as well as native plants. Let’s examine why native plants may be the best thing you’ve done for your garden.

Limits chemical intervention – Plants that are not native to the area tend to have more problems with disease. Gardeners, in an attempt to keep problems at bay, may resort to using chemicals to save their greenery. Although this is a natural response, chemicals are anything but natural and even dangerous particularly when seeping into the soil and polluting aquifers.

Well adapted – Local climate, soil, rainfall and the availability of pollinators and seed dispersers are among the reasons the National Wildlife Federation advocates for choosing native plants. Native plants are grown in local soil and are used to your climate while introduced species, though beautiful are not. Moreover, some foreign plants are invasive – taking over and killing off local species. A prime example is kudzu, introduced from Japan in 1876 and common throughout the southeastern United States where it has overtaken local plants.

Attracts birds – Birds and butterflies are attracted to what is grown in your garden, particularly to plants they are familiar with. Birds especially look for places to nest, to find cover and as a food source. For example, spicebush attracts a number of birds including robins, catbirds, bobwhites and kingbirds. Opossum and racoons like them too. If you’re seeking to attract wildlife, then opt for native plants.

Beneficial insects – Aphids can damage and kill off plants, but ladybugs are beneficial insects that have a taste for aphids. Native plants attract a variety of insects including insect predators that will balance destructive pests. Foreign plants, however, may bring foreign pests with them with no predator to keep these invasive bugs at bay.

Added Value

Of course, native plants are also beneficial to your home in a way that any well maintained garden is perceived: you’ve added value to your property. Some home buyers may find your native grown plants to be an asset, providing a beneficial selling point when it comes time to market your home.

Resources

National Wildlife Federation: Attracting Wildlife With Native Plants

National Audubon Society: Plants for Birds and Wildlife

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Categories: Garden Plants

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".