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Using native plants in your gardens saves time, water, money

A friend of mine loves native plants. Her yard is wonderful. In the front of her home she planted native shrubs. In a few years, they grew more than six-feet tall, providing a barrier between her home and the street.

Native Star Flower IMG_0944 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.

Native Oregon Grape IMG_0950 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.
Native White Bells IMG_0966 Your ecosystem will determine what plants to select for your property.

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.

Native Frons IMG_0963 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

Native Dark Green Shiny Leaves IMG_0948 “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

Copyright 2008, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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Spent all day taking care of our landscaping :-(. I'm ready to go native! Thanks for all the reference materials.


Hi Pete,

Be sure to look for the Web site of the native plant society in your state. They'll have helpful information for you.

Thanks for commenting.


Mona Robison

Don't forget native plants save water and look great! Mona

Claudia @ NJ Baby Boomer


Thanks for your comment to my blog...I love this post because I'm a lover of herbs, gardening and the outdoors...the pictures pulled me right in, and the links are great! I totally agree with your comment on my blog, and please don't think I posted that article to my NJ Baby Boomer blog because I agreed:-) Have a wonderful day!!



Hi Mona,

You're right. I didn't mention native plants look great. But the photos certainly show how nice native plants look.



Hi Claudia,

Thanks for writing on my blog about how you like herbs, gardening, and the outdoors.

I went to the Olympia Farmers' Market today and bought vegetable plants. In recent years, I've been doing container gardening. This year, due to the price of food, I may have a larger garden again.


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