Native plants reward people and wildlife in many different ways. They improve the environment, create a sense of place, restore a balance between plants and pollinators and you get to enjoy their natural beauty. Below is a quick list of six good things native plants do and provide.
They are a good value for your money.
Having just finished the fall plant sale, we hear over and over the value of native plants. If matched to the site, they are resilient, quick-growing and long-lived. They persist and thrive, which saves money since you seldom need to purchase replacements. These plants are adapted to our climate extremes. Their deep roots, habits and forms quickly fill up your garden space, adding interest throughout the seasons.
Pollinators will love your plants and you.
With all the talk about pollinator declines including monarchs, don’t you want to help in any way possible? The most obvious way that you can help is by planting the native wildflowers they need for survival. Whether milkweeds for monarchs or plants that provide food and shelter for these imperiled native pollinators, your yard can become an oasis. Why not create a habitat where up close encounters with many different butterflies, bees, insects, and even birds, can be admired?
They are a versatile and diverse group of plants.
One of the amazing attributes of the prairie is its diversity. There are literally thousands of plants thriving in every possible landscape situation. Wet, dry, sun, shade, clay, sand and so on – there are a host of plants that will grow in your yard just as they do in the prairie. That diversity allows you to match native plants to your own part of the world and successfully develop a landscape plan.
Native plants reduce maintenance.
Notice I didn’t say native plants require no maintenance? Even though native plants are drought tolerant and tough, they still require some maintenance each year in a landscape scenario. Again, think about a prairie. Native plants’ only requirements are to be cleaned off each spring before the next season’s growth. They survive pests and disease, require little or no fertilizing and demand extra water only during the severest drought. By spending less time maintaining your garden, it releases you from the obligation of burdensome yard work. Less time working and more time enjoying your landscape is always a good thing.
Native plants help with soil and water conservation.
The root systems of native plants are vital to soil and water conservation. Grasses such as big bluestem and switchgrass have fibrous deep reaching roots that hold soil tightly, keeping it from eroding into waterways. A dense, thick prairie of grasses and wildflowers will slow the movement of water, allowing more to infiltrate the soil too. Those deep roots also tap into moisture during dry periods. Drought resistant plants require little if any supplemental water which saves you money in the long run.
Enjoy the garden you created.
A prairie planting done right will offer you years of enjoyment. A habitat with attractive forms, textures and flowers that bloom at different times during the growing season will attract a host of pollinators and birds for you to watch. Those up close encounters will deepen your appreciation of these endangered species. Surrounding your home with native plants guarantees you’ll be rewarded time after time and year after year. It is a reward to you, but a gift to the natural world too.