WHY USE NATIVE PLANTS?
The emphasis on using native plants has been on the rise nationally, particularly since the 2009 publication of Douglas Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home. The book explains the link between native plant species and their support of native wildlife. Native insects primarily are only able to feed upon native plants, through adaptations formed over the millenniums. Most insects are specialists, meaning that they only eat plants they share an evolutionary history with, determined by leaf chemistry, flowering time, physical shape and other plant characteristics. For example, the Monarch Butterfly only lay their eggs on the milkweed plant, Asclepia incarnata, because it is only their leaves that Monarch caterpillars can digest upon emerging from their cocoon.
Without the native plant food source, the insect population declines. Insects form the vast pyramidal food base for birds and other wildlife. Birds, for example, can only feed their young insects because of the insect’s high protein content. Wildlife populations have subsequently declined with the loss of their insect food source.
Many land developmental patterns, including the use of alien plant species to replace millions of acres of land once covered with native plants, have endangered wildlife species to the point of extinction. With the exception of an occasional clover, the vast acreage comprised of American lawn offers no food or shelter for insects and bees.
Habitat and shelter loss, also provided by native plants, is another primary reason for wildlife’s continued population loss. There has been a precipitous decline in songbirds over the last fifty years. According to an April 2018 report by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, approximately forty percent of the world’s bird population is in decline.
Fortunately, there is a resounding message of hope. The environmental destruction can be restored through planting native plants. The return of some wildlife species, such as native birds, can be visibly noticeable within a short period of time.
Listed below are the many beneficial reasons to use native plants. Please visit our NATIVE nursery to discover depth, diversity and health of our native plant selections. And if you are seeking a native plant that is not currently in stock, ask our knowledgeable sales staff to order it for you.
- Restore food and habitat sources for biodiversity of wildlife and environmental health
- Native plants can replace space occupied by invasive plants
- Reduced reliance on synthetic herbicides
- Specific habitat ecotypes can be reestablished for wildlife benefits
- Butterfly friendly habitat
- Bird friendly habitat
- Pollinator and meadow habitat
- Woodland habitat
- Wetland habitat
- Shoreline habitat
- Lower maintenance costs
- Lower water bills through reduced watering, once plants are established
- Reduced mulch purchases through use of groundcovers
- Reduction of herbicides
- Reduced time spent in:
- Mulching through use of groundcovers
- Weeding through use of groundcovers
- Beauty of native plants in terms of flowers, foliage, plant form, fall color, fruit, attractive bark and winter interest
- Learning to appreciate the wilder, less manicured look of a more wildlife friendly habitat
- Native plants can replace similar looking non-native plants for formal gardens
- Enjoy time in relaxing to view the increase of birds, butterflies and other desired wildlife within your yard and neighborhood
- Create children’s gardens to teach about nature and growing edible plants
- Create edible gardens to enjoy such fruit as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, elderberries, and persimmons.
- Create urban oasis areas for healthier lifestyles.