Why Garden with Native Plants?
Why should we use native plants in our gardens? Are you old enough to remember luna moths? Or lucky enough to have seen one more recently? Sara Stein, in her book
Noah's Garden, put it succintly:
... the number of people planting a piece of native grassland, not the size or sophistication of the individual plantings, is what will matter, for if we don't grow milkweeds in our gardens, we'll have to tell our grandchildren, "We used to see monarch butterflies long ago."
Native plants are losing habitat in many places in the world. And as the plants habitats are lost, most of the animals, birds, and insects which rely on them are lost also. So by planting natives in our yards, we can save not just the individual plants, but many other species which depend on them.
Saving plants and other species is reason enough to use native plants, but there are other reasons to do it too. For one thing, gardening with natives is easier that gardening with exotic plants, because the natives are fully adapted to the climate, soils, and diseases prevalent in your area. So you don't have to use so much water, fertilizer, and pesticides to keep the plants growing. Usually, once the plants are established, they are able to grow very well without all the pruning, prodding, and pestering that most other plants need. So why not use natives in your garden?
If you need more reasons to use native plants in your garden, the following links should provide more convincing evidence:
Native Plant Gardening
- Wild Ones - Natural Landscapers
- A non-profit organization with chapters across the Midwest, their mission is to educate and share native plant landscaping information at the community level and to promote biodiversity and environmentally sound practices.
US EPA Green Landscaping
- From the US EPA, Green Landscaping with Native Plants provides a good background for landscaping with native forest, prairie and wetland species, with special emphasis on the Great Lakes region.
National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat
- The NWF's Backyard Wildlife Habitat can help you save a place for wildlife, open your eyes to the natural world around you, and be nourished by nature's wonders.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Formerly the National Wildflower Research Center, this non-profit educational organization was founded to educate people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants.
Common Questions about Wildflowers and Native Plants
- From the University of Minnesota Extension Service, this page describes the differences between native, non-native and noxious plants.
- Native Plant Societies
- GPF's growing list of state and regional native plant societies.
Establishing and Maintaining a Prairie Garden
- This site provides a short description of what is necessary to create a prairie garden.
Prairie Establishment and Landscaping
- Produced by William E. McClain of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this website includes a background on the natural history of tallgrass prairies in Illinois, and provides detailed technical information on establishing a prairie garden of almost any size. A free hard copy is available.
- Outline of a Prairie Restoration
- Heyne Custom Seed Service in Walnut, Iowa provides a practical outline for establishing a prairie patch from seed. Includes planning, site preparation, and seeding.
Plants in Prairie Communities
- This site includes plant lists for wet, mesic and dry prairies and provides characterictics including competitiveness, height and time of bloom.
- Native Prairie Plants for Roadside Use
- Developed for Illinois' Corridors for Tomorrow Project, this table outlines many features of prairie plants including their natural habitats, mature height, pollinator, fruit type, establishment and special features.
- Tallgrass Prairie Nurseries
- Our list of nurseries offering native prairie plants or seeds. All are in the Midwest tallgrass prairie region.
- Native Prairie Plants
- A list of the native prairie plants commonly available at GPF's annual plant sales. These plants grow well in a garden setting.
updated: April 12, 2007
Native Plant Sale Saturday May 12, Lincoln Square
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