Falling in love with native plants has been a process for me. It didn’t happen overnight. It was a long, slow love affair.
It might have been beauty that attracted me first. A bright orange flower on the roadside was intriguing and colorful. I also admired how hardy it was – how it could stand up to harsh conditions on the side of the busy roads. That was the beginning and the plant was butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa.
I learned more. I learned about both individual plants and the role that native plants play in the local ecosystem. There is so much to learn. Every plant and every fact made it all seem so … right.
You see, there is no single reason to love and appreciate these plants. Let me count the ways:
They are beautiful. Native flowers can be every bit of beautiful as non-native ones. It’s fun to show someone a gorgeous flower and then tell them that it’s native. “Oh, it’s too pretty!”, they say.
They are versatile. There are plants that will thrive in your wet spots and your dry spots. Need something for hot sun or full shade? There’s a native plant for that. Whatever your conditions, there was a plant that used to live there and thrive in those conditions.
They are beneficial to wildlife. They have what it takes to satisfy all the native bugs, beetles, birds and butterflies in your yard. They grew up together … native plants know what those guys like.
They are hardy and perfectly adapted to your area, the seasons and the conditions. They love Georgia clay, for example, and they know about wet spring rains and hot dry summers.
They are natural and appropriate for the local ecosystem, especially when you select plants native to your state and your county.
They are unique and unlike any others with special adaptations that help them thrive.
As you discover native plants and the many reasons to love and appreciate them, remember that these are no “flash in the pan” heart-throbs. These guys are for keeps.
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