Native plants: What Can They Do For You?

Native plants

I feel like in today’s world a lot of terms are tossed around that you may not necessarily know exactly what they mean. Global warming for one. Clean eating, what’s clean to one is not to another…apparently wine is not considered clean eating…who knew?  Well behaved children (just kidding…. I have 4 and have yet to figure this one out.) So what about native plants? I’m sure you’ve heard it before. But what exactly does it mean. Why should we care? And how can it help us?

native planting connecticut river
This project was on the banks of the Connecticut River and required an all native plant design

So what are native plants?

A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction. Simply put, they belong there. They have evolved over time to withstand the conditions of that particular environment, the climate, the soil conditions, and the precipitation. They provide the right nutrition to the species that rely on them: native butterflies, beneficial insects, birds and other animals.

native plant meadow

Why should we care about native plants?

They use less resources

Native plants use less fertilizer, less pesticides, and way less water to maintain them and keep them thriving. In fact, they will often suffer from too much care and maintenance because they have adapted to live off the conditions that nature provides. Some scary numbers are that irrigation systems here on the east coast use up to 30% of our water consumption. Native plants develop deep root systems that don’t need irrigating.

They provide food and shelter for beneficial wildlife.

They are home to many varieties of species that our landscape actually needs to keep the pests in check. We need to keep these little guys happy so they stick around

Low maintenance

They tend to be lower maintenance than exotic plants. We’ve already touched on less watering and feeding, but how about mowing, pruning and dividing? A wild flower meadow will take much less to maintain than a turf lawn. Just look at the root depth differences below…amazing!

Right plant, right place

They look like they belong….well, because they actually do! They keep landscapes looking their best and not out of place because they blend in more with their surroundings.

My favorite native plants for Connecticut:

  • Perennial: Black eyed susan, Joe Pye Weed, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Phlox, Tiarella (foamflower), Liastris,
  • Ferns: Maidenhair, Ostrich, Christmas fern
  • Grasses: Little bluestem, switchgrass, prairie dropseed
  • Shrubs: Clethra (sweet pepper bush), annabelle hydrangea, Sweetspire
  • Trees: Serviceberry, redbud, dogwood, white pine, red maple

Think Native!

A perfect example of a native plant out performing its fancier counterpart is the annabelle hydrangea vs the blue mophead hydrangea, especially in Connecticut. Every year, I cut all of my customers annabelle’s right to the ground, and they come back religiously, more beautiful each year. They never wilt and always overwinter fine. The blue mopheads, however, wilt in hot sun, don’t bloom if we have a harsh winter, and need much more care. So think before you plant!

So next time your shopping at you’re local nursery, ask about native plant varieties…I promise, they won’t disappoint! Talk to me about native plant design and how it can help you. Reach out today!

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