- Native plants take less work and resources, and help to improve the environment.
They are well adapted to local environmental conditions and often require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides than many non-native plants.
Native plants also maintain or improve soil fertility, increase carbon dioxide absorption, reduce erosion, and don’t become invasive like non-natives can. They also don’t need mowing, which reduces air pollution.
- Native plants provide more biodiversity in our ecosystems.
We need more biodiversity (a wide variety of plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms) since, to paraphrase Paul Ehrlich, author of ‘Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species’, “removing native species from an ecosystem is like taking rivets out of an airplane wing; it is impossible to know which one will be the last one that was holding the whole thing together.”
For example, native oak trees support over 900 different kinds of caterpillars as opposed to only a few on the non-native Bradford pear. Biodiversity improves the overall health of the environment, which helps our health, too.
- Native pollinators are required to pollinate over 75% of flowering plants world-wide.
Non-native European honeybees do very little work compared to the native insects, but both kinds of pollinators are necessary in order to provide one in every three bites of the food that you eat.
- Native birds will eat many of the insects that feed on our crops, trees, and our garden plants.
One chickadee brood of babies will eat between 6,000 and 9,000 caterpillars which may have devastated some of your trees otherwise.
- Invasive non-native plants can crowd out native plants.
This decreases the number and types of insect pollinators and birds, since they are not able to find enough food to live on or or are unable to produce babies with the non-native species. Planting more natives will often help to reduce the invasive non-natives.
- Native plants can be quite beautiful.
And many are referred to as four-season plants. Some of the most familiar and popular landscaping plants such as black-eyed Susan, columbine, bee balm, coreopsis and yarrow have been developed from North American natives.
Douglas W. Tallamy is a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, and has done extensive research on the relationship between native plants and wildlife since 2000. He has written several books on that topic.
Based on the research of Douglas Tallamy, you can help to restore a healthy ecosystem in your community by planting at least 70% natives in your yard. It’s OK to have up to 30% of the other plants be non-natives, as long as they are not the invasive kind.