Randi V.W. Eckel, PhD

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Why garden with native plants

Native plants make a beautiful and wonderful addition to any garden - from meadow plantings to very formal settings. We encourage you to try some plants that are native to your area. Native wildflowers will thrive and provide lasting color and interest for years to come. Plus, there are some terrific advantages to planting with native wildflowers.

First, native plants often require less care ... They have adapted over thousands of years to the conditions in their native range. They require little if any supplemental water or fertilizer when placed in locations appropriate to them. Remember to take both sunlight requirements and moisture requirements into account when planning the placement of any plants, including native species.

Second, native plants often have fewer pest problems. By and large, native plants are adapted to insects and diseases that occur naturally in the area where they grow.

And third, native plants provide food for wildlife. Many birds and butterflies depend heavily on native plants. By using native plantings, you can encourage them. For example, regardless of when I put up my hummingbird feeders, the first hummingbirds always show up just as my wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) begin to bloom in the spring. Native wildflowers also attract a wonderful variety of butterflies, including well-know butterflies such as the Monarch and some less known and even rare species.