Why Garden with Native Plants?

Monday, February 21, 2022 09:39:44 AM America/Los_Angeles

What’s blooming in your garden this spring? If the greenery and wildlife around your home is feeling a bit lackluster, consider gardening with plants that are indigenous to your environment. Native plants are the way to go if you’re looking for a way to bring your region’s natural glory into your own backyard! 

Photo by Oscar Sutton

What Are Native Plants? 

Plainly put, native plants are plants that are native to a region. They are plants that are adapted to a specific environment and therefore have a highly symbiotic relationship with it. Native, or indigenous, plants are an integral component of an ecosystem and are critical for helping maintain the region’s natural wildlife. 

Why Are Native Plants Better for the Environment?

Gardening with native plants isn’t just about optimizing plant growth–it’s a sustainable way of gardening! By raising native plants, you are single-handedly expanding the native habitat of your region. What does this mean? Native plants are a fundamental part of their environment, and they help sustain the local ecosystem by offering habitats and food sources for wildlife in the area. This helps all wildlife–both flora and fauna–to thrive, increasing the natural biodiversity of a region. 

What’s more is that because native plants are accustomed to their traditional environments, they don’t require as much as other non-native species do. Native plants have adapted to the region's natural resources and can generally survive with minimal human intervention. This means less watering and less chemicals to keep plants happy and healthy. 

What Native Plants Should I Plant? 

As you might imagine, what’s native to a region varies widely depending on climate, soil, wildlife, and light. The specifics of each “ingredient” is what helps native plants thrive naturally with minimal impact on the environment. It’s important to think about how the native plants will interact with these various elements and if the plants will be able to grow healthily without the assistance of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Take these variables into consideration as you select the plants that would be the best fit for your area. 

These factors are especially true for plants that typically grow in extreme climates. Succulents native to deserts or ferns native to the Pacific Northwest may not do well in conditions that are opposite of their natural environment. For instance, a fern grown in an arid and desert-like environment will require huge amounts of water that they would naturally receive from heavy rainfall in a region like the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, an outdoor succulent in a rainy area will likely need extensive care due to potential root rot that they would not be exposed to in much drier climates. For more details and plant suggestions, the National Wildlife Foundation makes it easy to discover plants that are native to your area by offering a database by zip code.

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