Benefits of Native Plants
You may have heard the enthusiastic push to plant native plants, but do you know what’s
special about natives? Why are native plants so beneficial? Well, I’m glad you asked!
The most important reason to plant native plants is that they support our local
food webs. Native plants have evolved with our native wildlife over thousands of
years, and the two have come to know each other very well.
Native plants offer nectar and pollen for pollinators, and provide seeds and fruits
for birds and other wildlife. Many native plants are also host plants – plants on
which butterflies lay their eggs, and which provide a food source for the emerging
caterpillars. 90% of the insects that eat plants can develop and reproduce only on
the plants with which they evolved. If a momma butterfly can’t find the native
plant she needs, she can’t lay her eggs successfully, and thus no babies – no
caterpillars! – the basis for many a food chain.
Native plants are naturally adapted to the climate, rainfall, and soils of our region.
Their roots extend deeper into the soil than the roots of many non-native plants
(including turfgrass), which means natives are more drought resistant, and absorb
more water. When planted in the appropriate site conditions (remember “Right
plant, right place!”), native plants require less (if any) fertilizers, less (if any)
pesticides, less water and less maintenance than non-native plants. The less input
plants require, the more sustainable your garden, and the better for the
Native plants attract natural enemies. Natural enemies are beneficial insects such
as lady beetles, lacewings, and wasps, that provide natural pest control through
predation or parasitism. Instead of using pesticides, watch nature in action by
planting native plants – asters, coneflowers, Culver’s root, goldenrods, ironweed,
mountain mints and rattlesnake master (to name a few) – and watch those
beneficial insects go!
Native plants are unique to our geographic region, and create a distinct sense of
place. When we plant natives, we celebrate our geographic heritage, and honor the
horticultural history of the great US of A.
And in addition to all of the above, native plants are simply beautiful!
For more information on the benefits of native plants, please see the recording of
my webinar titled “Bee” Friendly with Natives at