Planting natives at home is increasingly important as residential and commercial properties continue to encroach on our woodland and open space–at a rate of 6,000 acres/day in the US! Insects, bugs, birds and reptiles still need to live somewhere, and their options are becoming limited. Monarch butterflies are an alarming example of how quickly a species can suffer when key habitat plants, like milkweed, are lost. As insect and buy larvae are less available, this loss can quickly spread up the food chain to songbirds, raptors, reptiles, and amphibians. Many species, like monarchs, are specialists, and rely heavily or even completely on one sole source of food. When this food source disappears, so do they.Native plants can be defined in many ways, but for our purposes, they are those that are naturally present (at least since written history), and that have adapted to life in our climate. This means that, in addition to providing habitat to the critters they have co-evolved with, they also tend to be relatively low-maintenance once established, requiring little to no fertilizer or irrigation, and helping to maintain our local water quality. This is in direct contrast to invasives, which are typically introduced (accidentally or intentionally) by humans, and have rapid growth, and spread. Invasives will often overtake native plants because there are no native predators or pests to control their growth and spread. Common invasive plants include: English Ivy, Common Orange Daylilly, Bradford Pear, Burning Bush, Japanese Barberry, Miscanthus, Tree of Heaven, Butterfly Bush, and Liriope.
We are working with several businesses and individuals to be able to provide resources for purchasing appropriate native plants. Please be careful when purchasing plants, as there are many cultivars (cultivated varieties bred to have different colors, foliage shapes, blooms, or size), which most often do not provide the same habitat value as the true native species. Wherever you shop, please help increase the availability of native plants by requesting them!
Some Sources of Native Plants:
Southern Branch Nursery (and landscape design)
Eric Gunderson, 757-373-7763
SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.