Native plants have evolved, over thousands of years, to live in relative balance with local soil, climate, plants, animals, and insects.
These are not plants from other regions or other continents. They are often not even plants native to nearby towns or counties. These are not plants that were developed in a laboratory.
Benefits of native plants
Native plants are perfect for busy (or lazy) gardeners and homeowners. They are naturally suited to your soil texture, Hardiness Zone, and soil pH. Once installed, these plants already have everything they need in a landscape:
Installing native plants reduces your workload and promotes a healthy environment over the long haul. While non-native plants may look appealing, they often require more work, water, and other resources. So, how does a gardener go native?
Going native doesn’t mean you have to stop growing your grandmother’s heirloom tomatoes or patches of delicious basil. It simply means using native plants as your first choice. Hardcore enthusiasts insist on growing nothing but natives. Personally, I find that level of commitment too limiting. Instead, I look for a workable balance. You can find information about native plants from your County Extension Office and local native plant societies. Here are some tips for gardeners looking to add native plants:
Many times, native plants are free for the taking, if done responsibly.
Around the world, drought is never far from our thoughts. Water-hungry plants may consume more than they are worth. Native plants have evolved natural water conservation methods. You can also add native plants to a rain garden or swale to create a natural watershed that slows the absorption of rainwater. This allows more of it to stay in the soil for later use.
Even if you grow native plants for no reason other than water conservation, you will be doing yourself and the environment a favor.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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