Grow Green – Plant Native!

What is a native plant?

Native plants are indigenous species that occur naturally in a region, ecosystem, or habitat. For example, Solidago or goldenrod occurs naturally in Kentucky, so it is a native plant in Kentucky.

Why plant native plants?

  • Pollinators, including hummingbirds, native bees, butterflies, moths, and bats, need the nectar provided by native plants to survive.
  • Non-native plants are not a substitute because the pollinators and native plants have co-evolved together. For example, only milkweed plants can host monarch butterflies.
  • Plus, some cultivars are bred not to have pollen or nectar.
  • Scientists around the world, including in the United States, are reporting catastrophic insect population declines.

What does an insect decline mean for the environment?

  • Home gardeners will find it more difficult to pollinate their fruits and vegetables.
  • Song bird populations will continue to decline. Song birds solely feed their young insects.
  • There will be less food available to wildlife, like reptiles and amphibians.
  • There will be explosions in the population of some insects because of the decline in predator insects. For example, a decline in the dragonfly population may mean in an increase in the mosquito population.

What native plants are good for landscaping?

There are lots and lots of native plants that are great for landscaping. Purple Coneflower or Echinacea purpurea has long been a favorite for gardeners. Blue-stemmed goldenrod, Sweet Joe Pye weed, and Christmas fern are beautiful in the shade. Asters (e.g., Short’s Aster), milkweeds (e.g., Butterfly weed), and Black-eyed Susan are dependable in sunny beds.

Attached you will find a list of Native Plants for Pollinators and Wildlife developed by the Garden Club of Kentucky.

The National Wildlife Federation also developed a list of keystone native plants by ecoregion that also lists the numbers of insects that use the plants: Eastern Temperate Forests.