Native Plants for the Mid-Atlantic
On this page
- What Are Native Plants and Why Are They Important?
- State-Specific Native Plant Organizations
- Other Sources of Information Including Recommended Plants
Native plants are plants found in your area before Europeans settled (when extensive land clearing began and exotic plants were first introduced from overseas). Hundreds if not thousands of plants fall into this category. Many native plants are very beautiful and are underused in the landscape. Since native plants have been growing and evolving in an area for thousands of years and have adapted to the local soils and climate, they are more likely to thrive with minimal care than exotic plants. That can mean less need for water, fertilizer and pesticides. Also, native plants are less likely to create environmental havoc should they "escape" from your garden, unlike aggressive invasives.
Native plants have an important role in the local ecosystem (community of plants and animals). Other plants, animals and/or insects may use them for habitat or food. When natural areas are lost or cut into pieces or harmed in other ways from our activities, what' s left becomes all the more critical for the survival of many species. By using native plants we can help offset these losses.
And, by using a greater variety of species, you will have more varied seasonal interest (flowers, berries, leaf colors, etc.) and you will encourage a more balanced population of beneficial insects that will help keep the harmful ones in check. You'll also attract more birds and butterflies to your yard. Of course, not every native plant will thrive in every location. It's important to know your site conditions and the requirements of the native plants when making a selection.
Finally, native plants provide that "sense of place". In a world that is fast becoming homogenized, it's nice to experience a place that is unique. By using native plants, especially those that only grow in your area, you help to foster that uniqueness.
District of Columbia
- Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Native Plant Society
- Philadelphia Botanical Club