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News | April 25, 2019

Bringing your landscape to life!

By Nicole Goicochea DLA Land and Maritime Lead Environmental Protection Specialist

Why should you plant native plants in your landscaping?

When the first settlers came to North America they brought with them plants from their homeland that they knew and loved.

Monarch butterfly and bee on a swamp milkweed flower
Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweed in Michigan.
Monarch butterfly and bee on a swamp milkweed flower
Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly on swamp milkweed in Michigan.
Photo By: Jim Hudgins of the US Fish and Wildlife Service
VIRIN: 180601-D-D0441-700
The daffodils, foxgloves and day lilies became known as ‘ornamentals’ and the native plants became stigmatized as ‘weeds’ because they were plentiful.

This tradition has continued to the present day. However, the native plants have evolved alongside the birds, butterflies and other native wildlife for centuries.

Native plants are the perfect companions for wildlife. They offer usable food, shelter and nesting sites.

Pollinators are declining in numbers and many bees and butterflies in Franklin County have been added to the endangered species list.

Monarch butterfly populations are on the brink of extinction in the west. They’re beginning to recover in Ohio, but are still only a shadow of their 1980s population.

Birds are also affected by the decline in pollinators. Caterpillars are a main source of food for many nesting birds. Without a plentiful amount of caterpillars, they can’t raise their young. This is just one example of how a dwindling species affects others.

Two reasons have been identified as causing the declines in pollinator populations: 1) Loss of habitat due to urban sprawl and population growth. 2) Overuse of pesticides, especially herbicides.

What can you do to help?

  1.  Plant native species. A plant native to the United States is one that was naturally present prior to European settlement. This also means that it has evolved to be well adapted to the specific environment and conditions.

    Native plants can be extremely eye-catching and beautiful. They require no fertilizer or supplemental water once established.

    Native plants also attract butterflies and birds.

    Planting natives will transform a sterile lawn/garden into a habitat that supports wildlife and is buzzing with activity. A nature lover’s delight.

    Monarchs in the east experienced an uptick in 2018. This small improvement is attributed to a movement to plant more milkweed, but even more native plants are needed to help. View the online list of some native mid-west trees, shrubs, and perennials and annuals

  2. Use less pesticide, especially around plants visited by pollinators. The pesticides negatively impact pollinations. Reducing pesticide use also makes a healthier environment for people and pets.

  3. Avoid planting invasive species. Invasive species are plants or animals from areas outside of a specific location that have the ability to spread rapidly to the point where they cause damage to the economy, environment, and/or human health.

    Some common invasive species include the Callery pears family of Bradford, Cleveland Select, Aristocrat and other cultivars, Japanese Barberry, Purple Loosestrife, Burning Bush and many more.

    To learn more about invasive species in Ohio visit the Ohio Invasive Plants Council site.