Updated: May 23
We're sure you've heard the buzz about native plants. And no, it's not just coming from the bees and other pollinators they attract. Planting native is a wonderful way to support a biodiverse ecosystem in your back yard from the bottom to the top of the food chain!
WHAT IS A NATIVE PLANT?
Native plants are those that occurred in North America before European settlement, and which have evolved to perform well in our specific climate, soils and temperatures. That also means they co-evolved with local birds, insects, and other wildlife for thousands of years, forming interdependent, specialized relationships that are necessary for each others' survival. The USDA PLANTS database recognizes over 3,900 plants as native to North Carolina!
BENEFITS OF NATIVE PLANTS
Biodiversity & Supporting Pollinators
Planting native plants is very important for local wildlife. Attracting bees and other beneficial insects will in turn provide enhanced pollination and improved garden health. Because regional insects and wildlife have co-evolved with native plants, many of these plants provide needed food and shelter for these species (you will also find that many native plants are more resistant than non-natives to mammal pests as a result of this co-evolution).
Right Plant, Right Place
Plants native to WNC were thriving in the area without the aid of fertilizers and pruners for thousands of years and have adapted to thrive in a variety of conditions - many in our red clay soil! That means once your native plant is established it should not require supplemental watering (except in drought conditions), fertilizer, or pesticides. It may take some trial and error to find the right plant for the right spot, but keep in mind the light, water conditions and soil when planting.
Plant a wide variety of natives with varying bloom times for year-round interest in your garden. From bright pops of color throughout the summer to stunning seed heads on native grasses or berries on native trees in the fall.
Protecting Water Resources
Water scarcity is a global concern, and planting native plants can be a powerful tool in mitigating its effects. Native plants are well adapted to local rainfall patterns and soil types, requiring less water than non-native species once established. Their deep roots help improve soil structure, increase water infiltration, and prevent soil erosion, reducing the risk of flooding and enhancing water quality. Native plantings along rivers, streams, and wetlands act as natural buffers, filtering pollutants and preventing runoff, thereby protecting water resources.
Combating Invasive Species
Invasive species pose a significant threat to native ecosystems, outcompeting and displacing indigenous plants. By planting native species, we actively resist the encroachment of invasive plants, helping to restore the balance and integrity of our natural habitats. Native plants often have natural defense mechanisms that deter invasive species and can be a powerful ally in the ongoing battle against biological invasions.
Enhancing Aesthetic and Cultural Value
Native plants not only serve ecological purposes but also enhance the beauty and character of our surroundings. They can provide a sense of place and evoke cultural heritage, connecting us to the land and the history of our region. Native gardens and landscapes attract a diverse array of wildlife, offering opportunities for observation, photography, and interaction with nature. By incorporating native plants into our gardens and public spaces, we create unique and authentic landscapes that celebrate our local ecosystems.
Start incorporating native plants into your garden today! Painters typically offers around 300 varieties of native plants which can be found here. You can also visit our helpful links page to learn more about planting native or come by the greenhouse and our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you!