August 18, 2020

As urbanization takes over more and more virgin land, the need for spaces where local flora and fauna can thrive is becoming more urgent. Instead of natural sanctuaries, though, people opt for growing gardens with greenery from other countries. These popular exotic plants don’t support the local food web and can even become invasive species that threaten animals in the region. 

In order to avoid the adverse effects of filling our gardens with non-indiginous plants, we can switch to native plants. These are plants that originated and evolved where we live. While native plants can provide many benefits, here’s just a few of the things they can do for the environment, your garden design, and even your wallet!


Native Plants are Low-Maintenance

Native grasses are a great alternative to high-maintenance lawns. 

Most common backyard plants like ficus trees and turf grasses are not indegious. As a result, they require constant upkeep and sometimes even the professional help of gardening companies to survive. Native plants have evolved to thrive in local landscape and weather conditions and call for much less effort than non-native flora. They’re also much more likely to establish themselves quickly in your garden, and will grow healthier and stronger than non-native plants will. 


Native Plants Save You Money

A native garden is cheaper to maintain than one with exotic plants. 

Because native plants grow so easily in their region of origin, they don’t need as much water, fertilizer, pesticides, and other growth aids. This will significantly reduce the amount of time and money you spend keeping your garden healthy. 


Native Plants Will Make Your Garden Stunning for a Long Time

Non-native plants got nothin' on these local perennial flowers! 

A lot of people think that by using native plants, they’re compromising their vision of a beautiful garden. However, every region has a variety of native plants that can be designed to fit any taste. Additionally, because native plants grow in harmony with local seasonal changes, they are less likely to wither and will last a long time. 


Native Plants Sustain the Living Landscape Around Us

The animals and plants in a given area rely on each other to survive.

Every living creature depends on plants to live. Whether a species eats plants or feeds on herbivores, plants are the ecological basis of the food web. When we fill our gardens with non-native greenery, we are disrupting the habitat of the animals that depend on native plants for food and shelter. Additionally, exotic plants can become invasive and outcompete local flora and fauna.  

Research by entomologist Doug Tallamy found that native oak trees hosts over 500 species of caterpillars, whereas ginkgos, a common garden tree from Asia, supports only 5 species of caterpillars. By growing native plants in our gardens, we can provide a sanctuary for local creatures – from pollinators like birds and bees to the microorganisms in the soil – rather than further degrading the environment. 


Native Plants Help Preserve Nature and its Resources

Non-native plants require more fertilizers, which can run off into lakes, rivers,                                                                                      and oceans and cause algae blooms that lower oxygen levels and harmorgan-                                                                                 isms in the water 

Non-indigenous flora require more water, pesticides, and fertilizers to survive. While water is considered a renewable resource, we are depleting our freshwater supplies much quicker than they can be naturally replenished. Native plants are much less water-intensive than non-native plants, as they can have evolved to grow in the weather conditions of that given region with only rain to water them. 

Exotic greenery also requires more pesticides and fertilizers, as it is not accustomed to the growing conditions and pests where it is planted. Pesticides and fertilizers can run off from gardens, contaminate the environment, and – in the case of fertilizer – cause excess algae blooms in bodies of water that deplete oxygen and harm aquatic life. 

 

Creating and maintaining a garden can be strenuous, expensive, and time-consuming. By using native plants rather than common exotic gardening flora, you can have your dream garden without too much physical and financial effort on your part! The environment will thank you, and soon you’ll have an easy-care garden teeming with beautiful local wildlife. 


By Maria Veronica Perez

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