Gardening with native plants allows you to take advantage of flowers that are specifically adapted to your area. For many gardeners, growing wildflowers on hillsides or borders of their property is the extent of their use of native plants. But, planting native plants extends to shrubs and trees as well. There are several advantages to adding native plants to your landscape.
Growing native plants provides habitat for wildlife. According to Amanda D. Rodewald, State Extension Specialist from Ohio State University, habitat loss is the leading cause of endangered species that often leads to extinction. Native flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies, and serve as host plants for larva. Shrubs and trees provide homes for birds and small animals. Squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits find both food and shelter. Reptiles and amphibians seek shelter from native species. Using native plants assures you that the seeds and berries they produce are suitable for the wildlife in your area.
Because native plants are well adapted to your area, they require little care. Typically, native plants thrive in similar soil and moisture conditions to those found in your yard. Once established, wild plants require no fertilizer and typically do not require supplemental watering. When grown as wildflowers, the area requires no cultivation and assists in preventing erosion.
Native plants are less susceptible to insect pests, as they have adapted to the growing conditions of the area. Fewer pests mostly eliminates the need to use pesticides, which prevents harmful chemicals from leaching into the soil or contaminating ground water. According to Michigan State University Extension, many native plants also attract beneficial insects to the yard.
Preservation of Species
Planting native plants in your yard helps to preserve species that may be destroyed by construction or other environmental hazards. For many gardeners, preserving wildflowers for future generations is a major factor in their decision to grow native plants.
Native species typically bloom in succession, creating color and interest in the garden from early spring until fall. Unusual blooms and interesting foliage add depth and dimension to the garden.