There is balance in nature. From the decomposing materials to the roots of the trees, the entire ecosystem speaks to one another in a perfect tune of support. This symbiotic relationship ensures that all plants and animals are getting what they need while at the same time giving back to the environment. In essence, this is why native plants are so important.
What are native plants?
Native plants are plants that are native to a region. They are well accustomed to the climate, soil and water availability. They grow and die in connection with the weather and the changing seasons. Native plants have been growing in the same area for a very long time and are perfectly adapted to the conditions. In that sense it is her home. There they thrive.
Related: This island home has a green roof seeded with native, drought-tolerant plants
health of native plants
Native plants are hardy and thrive in their natural environment. Therefore, they are more resistant to disease, drought, and even fire in some cases.
Improve the floor
Native plants balance the soil by taking only what they need and giving back as they decompose. In this respect, they contribute to soil health by releasing nutrients.
We all know the reasons why we need pollinators. Without them, we would be missing a third of our food supply! The more opportunities we have to attract pollinators, the better. You can support pollinators with bat, butterfly and bird houses and beehives, as well as naturally occurring plants to encourage pollination.
Reduced water requirement
Native plants require significantly less water than a plant that has been translocated to a region where it is not native. It returns to the natural state of the ecosystem and provides native plants with what they need. Not only does this save you time and money, but plants that thrive without excess water are better for the environment.
Lack of fertilizer and insecticides
Once you understand the relationship between native plants and their natural environment, it’s easy to see why fertilizers and insecticides aren’t necessary. Obviously, escaping these toxins is great for the environment. It’s also good for humans. Coming full circle, planting native plants means stopping chemicals from polluting air and water.
Less mowing and removing weeds
A well-groomed lawn is not native. The care of this lawn therefore requires additives such as fertilizers. It also requires mowing and edging. Using a gas powered mower adds fuel emissions to the air. Although native plants are clearly better for the environment, planting them means you don’t have to mow at the weekend either.
Native plants give as much as they take. Because they thrive in abundance, they are a great food source for wildlife. Think native berries for everything from bears to birds. Deer eat green plants and trees. In fact, animals throughout the food chain benefit from strong native plants. In addition, native plants offer protection for animals, just as nature intended.
Find and plant natives
Start by identifying plants that will grow well in your area. The United States Department of Agriculture has created a map of hardiness zones to aid in this process. Just click here and find your location. All major plant and seed vendors will be able to offer a similar climate zone classification. For example, if you are zone seven, you don’t want to buy plants that are best suited to zone four, or they will get too hot and likely not succeed.
Next, check your soil health. Even within the same general area, soils can contain significantly different amounts of lime or clay. Your local university office or gardening club can help you find a lab to test your soil for relevant components like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. You can also purchase a do-it-yourself kit from your local hardware store or garden center to test your own soil. Knowing the pH and texture of your soil will guide you to plants that will thrive.
location for planting
Plant placement is important. Native plants also have different requirements. Where one may thrive in shade, it can be miserable and temperamental in direct sun. Others will not thrive if planted on the dark north side of the home. Choose plants carefully based on whether they are recommended for partial sun, full sun, or full shade. Also consider the height of your home.
Look for native plants at your local advisory office. Many have annual sales where you can buy everything from trees to seeds. The Audubon Society also provides a nice database to get you started. Although their focus is on plants that attract birds, these plants are specifically selected for your area and should be found at the local nursery.
Also, check out the community. See which native plants are thriving and get some for yourself. The nurseries and even the gardening department of your local hardware store can give you a wealth of information. However, find out what you are looking for. Ask for recommendations for a native tree that will happily drink water for your moist garden or tolerate direct sunlight and clay soil. Also, ask about toxicity if dogs and children are involved. Pay attention to the maximum size of the plant to avoid congestion in your flower beds and subsequent transplanting.
With a plan and knowledge, you can create a backyard area that will provide endless enjoyment for many seasons to come. The key is to source native plants that can live long and healthy lives while attracting the appropriate wildlife and minimizing the resources required.
Via Two River Times and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
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