by Victor Wang
It may be tempting to surround your home with exotic or show-stopping plants, but those plants come with risk and responsibility. Your landscape should complement all aspects of your home’s exterior. Using native plants has many benefits, not only for the environment but also for the time you spend working outdoors.
Long “to-do” lists mark our days as we balance work, family, chores, and time for ourselves. While gardening is therapeutic, you still want time to sit back and enjoy your garden. Choosing native plants for your landscaping means you’ll spend less time tending to them. Low-maintenance native options are already well adapted to the Ohio environment and soil conditions, and often need little to no extra watering. They are hardy to last through the season and usually thrive when they aren’t fussed over.
Support Local Pollinators
Butterflies, bees, and other Ohio pollinators are sure to visit the native areas of your yard. These vital parts of our environment help to create healthy plants and support the fragile balance of the ecosystem. Planting native options, such as goldenrod or purple coneflower, invites these pollinators to stop and stay awhile as they gather nectar.
The natives also preserve Ohio’s biodiversity. Local birds and wildlife depend on native plants for their food source. Invasive plants often crowd out the native species, robbing the local wildlife of food and habit.
Cut Down on Water Usage
The Buckeye State experienced abnormally dry conditions in 2019, with 12% of the state in a moderate drought. Water conservation efforts are gaining momentum in all 50 states as more people realize the value of this natural resource. Doing your part by planting native flowers, shrubs, and trees in your yard will help cut down on the need to water.
Gardening and yard work are great ways to beautify your home, but they also come at a cost. Choosing native plants to surround the house is a great way to save money. Native options often are cheaper than other varieties at the local garden center, thanks to their abundance in the area.
You can also ask for starts or cuttings from neighbors or friends who have an abundance of native species. You’ll save money and add a sentimental aspect to your gardening as you remember who gave you the plant.
Native Vs. Invasive
An invasive plant is one that can cause economic or environmental damage in Ohio. Their natural predators often weren’t imported with them, so it’s easy for them to spread out of control. Ohio is fighting back against nature’s enemies, by banning 38 species of exotic plants. The Japanese honeysuckle, autumn olive shrubs, fig buttercup, and others that steal water from local species are now illegal to sell in Ohio.
You can still find plenty of intruders at your local nursery. Before buying any plant that isn’t native, ask yourself if it’s worth inviting the invasive bugs sure to come with it? Support Ohio’s first Native Plant Month in April 2020 by planting some wild geranium or black-eyed Susan.
Victor Wang grew up in Central California, plucking tomato worms from his mother’s heirloom tomato garden, and is now a master gardener and freelance writer. His areas of expertise include landscaping, pest control and, of course, gardening.