Birds and animals love her yard. She selects native plants to draw birds and butterflies to her gardens.
My oldest daughter is a botanist. She works in the hot California sun doing rare, native plant surveys. She also works with groups in the state to educate people about native plants and how to stop the spread of non-native, invasive plants.
We all can work to help reestablish native populations by planting native plants in our yards. Native plants are being destroyed as part of the development process as subdivisions and office and commercial buildings spread across the countryside.
Unlike lawns and gardens, made up mostly of non-native species, native plants don’t require fertilizers, pesticides, and large amounts of water to keep them alive. They’ve adapted to the climate, geography, and animal populations of the area. Native plants provide habitat to and are a source of food for animals, such as birds, butterflies, and mammals.
Native plants also:
- Attract beneficial insects that prey on pests and eliminate the need for pesticides.
- Reduce air pollution, improve water quality by filtering contaminated runoff, and reduce soil erosion by stabilizing soils with deep roots.
- Don’t require the use of lawn maintenance equipment, which contributes to air pollution and is a source of climate change gases.
Open grassland, woodlands, wetlands, and upland bluffs each have plants communities that are native to its ecosystems. Each species has its own requirements: the need for shade, sun, high moisture, or a specific soil type.
Don't dig up native plants from the wild and put them in your yard. You can buy them at some greenhouses, and native plant groups often offer plant sales. Also be sure to avoid buying invasive plants, species which spread from human settings – gardens and agricultural areas – into the wild. Once in the wild, invasive species may continue to reproduce and displace native species.
You can do research to find out what native plants will work in your area.
The native plant society in your state is one good source of information. The Native Plant Conservation Campaign’s Web site offers a listing of a number of the societies in the United States. Extension programs of land grant universities also often provide information on native plants. Some examples are provided below.
Here are some references to help you get started growing native plants:
“Creating a Bird Garden” – The New York Botanical Garden
“Directories: Nurseries, Community Service, Professionals” – PlantNative
“Gardening With Native Plants West of the Cascades” – Oregon State University Extension
“How-to Articles” – Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
“How to Choose Native Plants for Your Garden” – 5min Life Videopedia
“How to Naturescape” – PlantNative
“Links for Using Native Plants in the Landscape” – University of Illinois Extension
“Mid-Atlantic Region Green Landscaping: Using Native Plants” – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"Native Plants" – California Native Plant Society
“Native Plants” – Gardening with the Helpful Gardener
“Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects” – Washington Native Plant Society
“Why Grow Native Plants?” – Florida Native Plant Society