Why Native Plants Matter
by Lisa Vernegaard, Executive Director
As I write this on a brisk January day, my mind keeps turning to thoughts of my garden. Like a child anticipating Christmas, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of seed catalogs and the treasures they’ll reveal.
Increasingly, I’m trying to fill my garden with native plants so that my own little patch of our region can support wildlife. Why do native plants matter? The answers are pretty straightforward:
- Native plants provide food and shelter for our native wildlife. Native wildlife, including insects, often don’t “like” non-native plants, and some non-natives are even toxic to certain birds and bees. Together, native plants and native wildlife protect the natural health of our region.
- A diverse wildlife population relies on a diverse native plant population. Some insects search for nectar on flat-headed blossoms; other seek out tubular flowers. Some pollinators feed in spring, others in summer. Different native plants blossom at different times to meet all these needs.
- Native plants are generally easier—and cheaper—to maintain. They have adapted to our local conditions, and they typically do just fine without our adding water, fertilizers, or pesticides.
In addition to these environmental benefits, native plants are also beautiful. Think bee balms, cardinal flowers, and black-eyed Susans. Need I say more?
So if, like me, you are impatiently awaiting the growing season, I hope you’ll add a few native plants to your garden this year. Each garden, no matter how small, can be part of a network that provides healthy food and shelter for a great diversity of the wildlife that calls this region home.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of The Wren, SVT's member newsletter.