Go Native in Your Garden This Summer
Do you find yourself drawn to the bright colors, fragrant blooms, and interesting flower shapes as you walk down the aisles of your local greenhouse or garden center? We've all got different reasons for choosing the plants we do for our gardens.
What are native plants? They are those species that grow wildly in your area and have done so for many decades or even centuries. Native plants require no irrigation, do not depend on anyone to get extra nutrients, fend off pests naturally, propagate without any help, and otherwise thrive without any outside human intervention. Native plants are also likely to be drought-tolerant, able to withstand the stress of occasional dry periods throughout the various seasons.
Unfortunately, though local nurseries carry an abundant supply of interesting and beautiful plant species, they don't always stock the best native plants. And since the native species specific for your climate will be different from the ones best suited to my area, you have to do some research to find out what will work in your particular garden.
To determine what plants will work best for you, check out these resources:
- Old Farmer's Almanac Frost Chart will tell you the length of your growing season and may help you find out what plants are ideal for your garden.
- Hardiness Zone Map by the Arbor Day Foundation will tell you your region's overall rainfall, temperature patterns, and other important factors which influence what plants will grow in your area.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database helps you search for species that thrive in your particular climate to find the ideal options for your landscape.
- Virtual Plant Tags helps you see what plants work in particular growing conditions.
Since native plant species thrive so well on their own, choosing these varieties will mean less work for you-lower watering requirements, fewer applications of soil amendments (like organic fertilizers and compost), less weeding (they can fend them off on their own), and virtually no need for insecticides. That means you'll have more time to sit back and relax, knowing you've cultivated an outdoor space that's less toxic and safer for your family, friendlier to wildlife and beneficial insects, and generally more, well, native!
If you're into green living you'll want to choose native, drought-resistant plants to help reduce your outdoor landscape's impact on the environment. Doing so will save you money and make your job of maintaining your garden less time-consuming, too!
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