The joys and benefits of growing a native garden make it one of the best things you can do to support a functioning ecosystem at home. According to Audubon, the modern obsession with perfect lawns in the U.S. is responsible for a more than 40-million-acre monoculture carpet that no longer supports wildlife.
By choosing native plants for your green space, you can benefit all sorts of wildlife from birds to bees and beyond. Take a closer look at the benefits of a locally focused garden and how you can plan one at home.
The Benefits Of Native Plants
There are numerous benefits to choosing native plants for your garden – and those benefits can help you (re)discover the joys of gardening. According to the North Carolina Native Plant Society, planting native plants in urban areas supports the health and restoration of ecosystems, is gentler on resources, and helps restore the land’s character.
Those plants also help sustain native birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, and other species by providing shelter and food. The adaptive traits and other qualities of native plants also make them practical, ecologically valuable, and beautiful to behold. Plus, they can help combat the introduction of invasive plants. A growing number of commercial spaces as well as private gardens and lawns use native plants precisely because they’re hardy, water-wise, and support the local ecosystem. These well-maintained public green spaces also showcase the inherent beauty of native plants to the community, providing people with inspiration and education.
Choose Plants Suited To Your Location
You should do a bit of homework before choosing native plants for your garden. According to the North Carolina Forest Service, each species is adapted to specific light conditions, moisture regimes, and soil types. Start by collecting soil samples from different areas of your garden and having them analyzed so you can choose the plants most suited to your location. You also should take note of plants’ light and moisture requirements when choosing plants for your garden.
If you want to plant landscape trees, make sure you give them enough growing space. Whatever plants you choose, remember that fall planting is best, as newly planted trees, shrubs, and grasses may struggle through the state’s hot summers.
Native Plant Suggestions
Ready to experience the joys of a native plant garden for yourself? Here are a few suggestions for trees, shrubs, grasses, and other plants that are indigenous to North Carolina:
Trees: Flowering Dogwood, American Plum, Red and Sugar maples
Shrubs: Carolina Rose, Cranberry, Elderberry, Flame and Sweet azaleas, Mountain Winterberry
Vines: Coral Honeysuckle, Passionflower, Virgin’s Bower
Ferns: Lady, Maidenhair, and Royal ferns
Grasses and Sedges: Broomsedge, Indian Grass, Little Bluestem, Oat Grass
Groundcovers: Dwarf Crested Iris, Chalice and Wild Blue Phlox, Wintergreen
Wildflowers: Blue Star, Black Cohosh, Butterfly Weed, Fire Pink, Great Blue Lobelia, Solomon’s Seal, Sunflower, White Wood Aster
The North Carolina Native Plant Society website has many more suggestions, scientific names, and helpful information about growing native plants.