Why Native Plants Are Important
When looking around at our beloved Garden Industry there is an abundance of variety! But, during one month of the year, we pay special attention to one particular variety of plants…Native plants!
The month of April is Native Plant Appreciation Month and here at Plant Sentry™, we appreciate them tremendously!!
However, we understand that amongst the multitude of varieties in the Garden Industry, sometimes native varieties can pale in comparison and appear lackluster next to the latest exotic variety. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and when it comes to native plants, they behold many more benefits than just their beauty.
As the fight against climate change continues, native plants have continued to gain popularity amongst gardeners. But, for some of the newer gardeners and industry members, the value that native plants have is not as clear to see.
As active members of our community, Plant Sentry™ understands that it is not always easy to see the value in a plant, but sometimes takes a little more time. That’s why this month, in honor of Native Plant Appreciation Month, we are going to share why native plants are important.
What Are Native Plants
While how a native plant is identified can vary depending on who you’re talking to, they are generally acknowledged as plants that are native species to their ecoregion. However, we think that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services express it best as to what a native plant is, “A species that, other than as a result of an introduction, historically occurred or currently occurs in that ecosystem.”
Native plants vary from ecoregion to ecoregion and what may be native in one part of the country, may not be native somewhere else. To assist you in identifying native plants in your region, the USDA PLANTS Database offers you access through their portal. You can find their database here: https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/characteristics.html
If the PLANTS Database is a little overwhelming for you to work with, another simple and easy approach is to use the National Wildlife Federation’s “Native Plant Finder”. You can find the easy to use finder here: https://www.nwf.org/nativePlantFinder/plants
The Value of Native Plants
Now that you know what a native plant is, and how you can find them for your area, it’s time that we get to the meat and potatoes of this post and share with you the value of native plants!
- Native Plants do not require fertilizers and most often do not require pesticides either. This positively impacts your local environment and decreases potential stormwater pollution.
2. Native plant species use less water than other plant varieties! This is another great benefit to your local environment, but also to your pocketbook. Less water usage saves money and resources!
3. Native plants contribute to cleaner air quality! These plant species do not require mowing and absorb carbon in the atmosphere helping combat global warming and ultimately climate change.
4. Native Plants provide shelter and food for pollinators and other types of wildlife. This contribution is the greatest contribution! As the planet continues to face the increasing population of humans, maintaining a healthy pollinator and wildlife population will be the key to human survival.
Pollinators naturally pollinate plants by a number incomparable to that which a human could accomplish without them. Implementing a native garden is a great way to help promote the wildlife and pollinator populations, which include keystone species like the North American Bumblebee.
5. In addition to promoting stewardship of natural habitats, native plants save money! Let’s face it, at the end of the day most of us are concerned about one thing, how much something costs. Native plants can help you save money through lower maintenance costs over other garden varieties. According to the EMSWCD, over a 20 year period maintaining a native plantscape will cost $3,000 per acre versus $20,000 per acre for non-native plantscapes.
So there you have it, native plants can add value to birds and other animals, as well as your pocketbook!
Why Native Plants Are Important
As you can see from the list of values that native species can add to your garden, there is a number of reasons why they are so important. But, just in case any bit of why they matter so much, slipped through the cracks, we’re going to briefly recap.
As time continues to pass, and the world continues to change, humanity will continue to face choices that will positively impact the environment. Choosing to plant native species is one of those choices. It’s easy as a shopper to want the most unique and rare variety out there to make your garden look special. But, purchasing native plant varieties can add timeless beauty to your landscape while benefiting your environment.
Native plant species are sustainable and offer beauty as well as low cost of maintenance. They can provide life and shelter for a number of species that need sustainable ways to survive. With extensive root systems that aid in water consumption and soil quality, what’s important about native plants is that they provide more than just their beauty.
Give your landscape the whole package, the better tomorrow, and the home for species who need it the most in the face of environmental disaster and plant native plants!