What Are Native Plants?

What are native plants?

With an exciting display of bio-diversity, native plants have evolved to thrive within the conditions of their specific region.

In researching to create a beautiful landscape for your property, you may have come across many garden tenders and nurseries that sing the praises of native plants. Sounds good, right? But where do you start and what are native plants?

Native plants are exactly what you may think, plants that are indigenous or native to the local landscape and naturally grow in certain regions. These native plants have actually been here, in our environment, since the days before European settlement and cultivation.

Through the years, biodiversity has changed the landscape through human intervention, migratory birds and even the ocean currents! Plants once separated by rivers, oceans, seas and desserts, now may grow side-by-side. However, just because two plants can grow together doesn’t make them native.

According to the California Native Plant Society, (http://www.cnps.org/cnps/nativeplants/) “Native plants evolved here over a very long period, and are the plants which the first settlers knew and depended on for livelihood.”

Through careful research, we have learned over time to identify many of these native plants according to landscape and region. Indigenous plants vary according to where you are in the world. Some can span several states while others may only be found in one swampy region of a tiny area no more than a square mile! Some native plants have learned to thrive in Alpine-like temperatures, bogs, savannahs, forests and salt water marshes. It is incredible how these plants can live and grow if planted in the right environment!

We all know how frustrating it can be to plant a garden just to have it stay lifeless and never thrive, so in many instances, we can all benefit from having an idea of what plants belong in the garden or landscape that we set out to create. In general, native plants will thrive more easily in their given region.

Depending on what “look” you are going for in your yard, there are many ways you can incorporate plants that are native.  For example, according to The United States National Arboretum (http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/nativefaq2.html)  “Native woodland wildflowers will never give your shady garden the riots of color that can be had with impatiens and caladiums, but if you like to garden with elegant and underused plants, they are great.” In essence, native plants will grow with less effort, inside the region they are intended for. They can be planted and utilized in many ways, whether it is just for patches of interest in your grand scheme, or  to span the entire garden for a more manageable and thriving landscape.

In future articles, we will provide suggestions for plants that are native to specific regions.