by Suzanne Ruggles
Native plants require less water because they are suited to the climate, soils, and other environmental factors of their native regions. They also have built-in defenses against native insect, viral, and fungal predators and are thus less likely to succumb to the different fungi and insects that plague non-native plants.
Because of the above, native plants are less costly – both to our pockets and to our environment because they can survive without chemical intervention, irrigation, or life support.
Native plants have co-evolved with native creatures. They are important food sources for animals and insects alike, and the animals, in turn, pollinate the plants, disperse their seeds, and in some cases the animal saliva even stimulates plant growth. So butterflies, turtles, hummingbirds, songbirds, beneficial insects, and countless other species
are plentiful in native gardens, and the presence of these creatures helps to maintain the balance nature intended, where birds control the overpopulation of ticks and mosquitoes, for example. Native plants control erosion and filter water, and they normally don’t escape their bounds, become invasive, and disrupt the balance of species.
The concept of native plant gardening is catching on and in fact has become the avant garde in landscape architecture.
Sources for native plant information:
- www.enature.com – Field Guides
- www.town.east-hampton.ny.us – Project S.A.V.E.
- USDA Plants – State Search
- ‘Native and Near Native, An Introduction to Long Island Plants – Where to See them and How to Use Them” By Albert Hostek
- “Long Island Native Plants for Landscaping: A Source Book” By Karen Blumer
- “Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants” A Brooklyn Botanic Garden All Region Guide
- “Native Plants of the Northeast – A Guide for Gardening and Conservation” By Donald J. Leopold