How to Grow a Native Plant Garden
A native plant garden is a beautiful and sustainable addition to any landscape. Not only do native plants require less maintenance and water than exotic species, but they also provide important habitats for wildlife and help to preserve local ecosystems. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to grow a thriving native plant garden of your own.
What are Native Plants?
Native plants have evolved within the regional landscape. These are plants that have always been in a particular area, environment, and habitat. Almost every region of the world has native plant species.
Although these plants can be used for ornamental purposes, they are not considered ornamentals by natural resource professionals. Ornamental plants, flowers, and trees are subject to genetic manipulation by horticulture professionals. Native plant species, if they are truly native, have not been subjected to genetic manipulation.
How to Find Native Plants
Be careful of where you obtain your native plant species. Many seed catalogs and nurseries will advertise plants and trees as native plants when they have actually been raised hundreds of miles away.
It is best to obtain local species for planting because these plants are well suited to a particular area. Local species have evolved in slightly different ways than plants hundreds of miles away and local plants maintain local integrity or help preserve, the gene pool of that area. Ask your government or university extension agents where to obtain authentic native plant species.
County conservation districts in the United States also know where to obtain native species through plant rescue programs or local greenhouses that specialize in native plants. Many of these agencies also sponsor native plant sales.
Choose the Right Site
The first step in creating a native plant garden is to choose the right site. Consider factors such as sun exposure, soil type, and drainage, as well as the local climate and microclimate. It is also important to think about the mature size of the plants you want to grow and how they will fit into your landscape.
Select the Right Plants
Once you have selected the right site for your native plant garden, it is time to select the right plants. Research the native plant species that are well-suited to your area and consider factors such as flower color, bloom time, and growth habit. You can also consult with a local nursery or botanical garden for recommendations.
Prepare the Soil
The next step in growing a native plant garden is to prepare the soil. Remove any existing grass or weeds and amend the soil with compost or other organic matter. If your soil is heavy clay, consider adding sand to improve drainage. If your soil is sandy, add organic matter to help retain moisture.
Planting the Garden
Now that your soil is prepared, it is time to plant your native plant garden. Plant the larger plants first, then fill in with smaller species. Be sure to plant at the same depth as the plants were growing in their containers and water thoroughly after planting.
Watering and Maintenance
Watering is an important part of maintaining a healthy native plant garden. Water deeply and regularly, especially during dry spells. It is also important to mulch the garden to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Regular pruning and deadheading can also help to encourage healthy growth and maintain the appearance of your garden.
Enjoy Your Garden
Once your native plant garden is established, sit back and enjoy the beauty and biodiversity that it provides. Watch as birds and insects flock to your garden, and appreciate the peace and tranquility that comes from being surrounded by nature. With a little care and attention, your native plant garden will thrive for years to come.