Monday, April 5, 2010

Great tips to start growing your native plants!

Native plants are the trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, ferns and other plants that have evolved in a particular area (such as southeast Pennsylvania) over thousands of years. Over this long period of time, the plants have adapted to the particular growing conditions present here, including temperature, rainfall, winds, soils, slopes and wildlife.If you haven't worked with native plants before, you may be wondering how natives are different than any other plant. The following information answers these questions and will help you begin to see why using at least some natives in your garden can be beneficial to the environment all while saving you time and money:
  • Native plants are beautiful, providing an entirely new palate of plants to a traditional landscape.
  • They are well-adapted to local conditions, therefore requiring little maintenance once established. They eliminate or significantly reduce the need for fertilizers, pesticides, water and maintenance equipment. They also often attract beneficial insects, which prey upon pests, decreasing the need for pesticides.
  • Most native species are perennial, or self-seeding biennial plants. This means you don't have to purchase and plant them each year - they remain in your landscape - and are sure to bring onto you the admiration of the next generation who will benefit from your foresight.
  • Native plants attract our native songbirds and butterflies.
  • Using native plants promotes biodiversity. Planting a small meadow that once was lawn replaces one plant species with many, increasing the opportunities for beneficial wildlife and insects to live.
  • Natives reduce air pollution and energy consumption, improve water quality and reduce soil erosion. Using native vegetation, unlike cultivated landscapes, does not require the use of lawn maintenance equipment, a major contributor to air pollution. They improve water quality by filtering contaminated stormwater, and reduce soil erosion by stabilizing soils with their deep root systems.
  • Native plants maintain our natural heritage and our community's character. What would Berks County look like without its majestic oaks and familiar meadow plants?
  • Native plants are less expensive to maintain. U.S. EPA reports that a meadow or wetland costs approximately $150 a year per acre to maintain, while the same amount of lawn costs $1,000 per year per acre to maintain.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources maintains a native plant reference list. Visit to learn what types of plants to buy for your new native garden! Also visit -
a GREAT resource for Berks County!


  1. I love the inexpensive plants at the Ag center. They help get the ball rolling. Are they all native?

  2. The Master Gardeners have a sale of native plants each year at the Ag Center. The Conservation District also has a seedling/plant sale around this time of year too - I believe their sale includes native AND some non-natives as well.

  3. My two favorite native perennials are purple coneflowers and bee balm. They are beautiful and the birds, butterflies and other insect love them!