Getting Started

What is a Native Plant?

A native plant is a plant that is indigenous to a given geographic area in geologic time. Plants that existed on the North American continent before European settlement are North American native plants. This includes plants that occur naturally, or have existed for many years in the prairies, savannas, and woodlands across this country.

Why Native Plants?

Whether you're gardening in a small space or restoring acres of habitat, native plants support life and biodiversity, and play a crucial role in soil and water conservation. Native plants offer solutions to a host of environmental problems.

Native plants are the heart of the true American landscape. Their unique and enduring beauty resonates with our sense of time and place. The variety of colors, textures and shapes is stunning, and their hardiness and adaptability are unsurpassed.

Restore Life and Rebuild Community

In a balanced ecosystem, native plants are the foundation of a biodiverse, living community. They are the basis of an interdependent community of plants, insects, birds and mammals that meet each others needs perfectly. Not simply prefered, many native plants are key requirements in the lifecycle of the myriad species that depend upon them for surivial. Whether used in a garden border, or a landscape restoration effort, native plants:

  • attract and support local and migrating birds
  • attract and support butterflies and moths
  • attract and support pollinating insects of all kinds

Repair Environmental Degradation

Rain gardens, erosion control, detention basins, shoreline buffers - these are ways that native plants help solve our environmental problems. Native plants have deep root systems that help protect and build the soil. Their roots systems can mitigate flooding and absorb pollutants in water run off - protecting rivers, streams and lakes from harmful contaminants.

  • Deep root systems stabilize soil and protect from soil erosion on slopes of all kinds including stream banks and shorelines.
  • Shoreline plantings mitigate the chemicals in water run off from lawns and other sources, that clog lakes with algae and rob the water of oxygen.
  • Detention basins absorb excess rain water, reducing the impact of flooding and overflow in municipal water systems.
  • Raingardens capture excess runoff from houses and remove pollutants from street water, reducing the load and the toxins in the water system.

Reduce Water Use and Lower Maintenance

Native plants are drought tolerant to the extent that they are planted where they can thrive without additional resources. To gain the benefits of drought tolerant natives and lower water use, choose plants that will thrive in the soil conditions at your location. The Plant Finder tool can help you select plants by soil type, soil conditions and features. Or, go to Native Plants where you'll find plants arranged by soil types.

Natural landscaping with native plants creates beautiful biodiverse spaces that reduce the need for mowing and eliminate the need for fertilization. Looking for ideas for that acre that you're mowing but not using? One of our seed mixes could be the perfect solution.

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