There are many benefits to adding native plants to your landscaping – The Oakland Press

There aren’t many circumstances where you have a win-win situation, but when it comes to native plants, that’s exactly what you get.

Native plants are beneficial for several reasons:

  • They require less care
  • They use less water
  • They attract favorable insects
  • They are beautiful
  • They highlight the natural settings
Butterfly milkweed, pictured here, works well in drier, sunnier garden plots, while swamp milkweed is great for wet areas. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Plus, whether you’re an experienced grower or looking to try gardening for the first time, native plants will help you achieve your “green thumb” goals.

Drew Lathin of Creating Sustainable Landscapes, LLC in Novi, said you need to start by knowing your garden conditions, then researching a native plant nursery.

“There are a number of them around,” he said. “They have plants native to the area and they can help you determine what type of plants you need.”

Many home gardeners want lush, flower gardens with lots of color. Native plants can provide an impressive display while also aiding in the growth of insect and bird populations, said Jay Blair, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture employee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, who now volunteers and acts as an advisor for the Oakland Conservation District. . The highbush cranberry, for example, blooms in the spring, which is pretty to see. Subsequently, they produce bright red berries which can be a food source for some during the winter months.

Blair also likes cardinal wildflowers, saying they’re good for more humid gardens, and purple coneflowers, which look great and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Asters and goldenrods are wonderful additions to add interest in early fall.

Much like annuals and ornamental perennials, native plants are well adapted to specific conditions, such as shade, sun, humidity, and drought. When planted in an optimal setting, native plants tend to thrive with very little practical care from home gardeners or with a need for additional fertilizer or water.

“Native plants have evolved in our climate,” Lathin said. “It’s a lot easier to take care of the right plant if it’s in the right place. “

Additionally, he suggested choosing at least three different plant species that will bloom throughout the season so that you always have something interesting to watch.

Throughout the year, a native plant garden will also provide food and shelter for the area’s insects, birds and amphibians. The vast majority of insects only eat native plants, Lathin said, so you “want to plant insect food.”

Milkweed is a good example. There are 11 species of milkweed native to Michigan, he said, that provide food for the monarch caterpillar and nearly three dozen other beneficial insects. Swamp milkweed is ideal for wet areas and butterfly milkweed is well suited for drier, sunnier garden plots.

There are 11 milkweed species native to Michigan, which serve as food for the monarch caterpillar and nearly three dozen other beneficial insects. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

When the native plant population is strong, it creates a healthy insect population, which provides food for birds, frogs, toads, bats, and other animals in the area.

“It goes up the food chain,” Lathin said.

Everyone’s garden space is different, but Lathin said columbines, alum root, and blue-stemmed goldenrod are excellent native plants for shady Michigan locations, while the popular Susans black-eyed echinacea, slanted onion, and wild bergamot are great for gardens with more full sun.

To build a native garden, start small and keep it simple, Lathin suggested. Work with what you already have, incorporating seven plants of one species into your landscape rather than one plant of seven different species. Also, he said to plant densely. This will discourage weed growth and if you put mulch in you will only have to do it once.

Blair said you can continue to replace non-native plants with native varieties if time and finances allow. He added that native perennials are easy to care for because they grow back every year with very little effort. All they may need is a fall or early spring mowing depending on the plant.

Over time, you will notice that they mow fewer times and water less while stimulating wildlife and improving soil conditions. Plus, you’ll be more connected to nature, you’ll enjoy watching birds and insects fly in their belongings, and neighbors will notice the improvement in lure you’ve planted in a garden bed, large patio pots , around trees or in planters. . With just a small initial investment, in no time, your home space will come to life and should serve you well for years to come.

Terri S. Tomasini