Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 2:34 p.m. – Planning your garden? Experts agree – there are big benefits to ignoring exotic species and planting native ones.
Native plants – that is, the foliage that occurs naturally in an area – are an important part of the ecosystem – but a significant portion of the plants available in nurseries are what are known as ‘exotics’. which are grown in other parts of the world.
On a large scale, alien species can be a problem – outcompete native species, disrupt wildlife food chains and alter the landscape of natural habitats.
Here are four benefits of planting native species.
1. NATIVE PLANTS SUPPORT WILDLIFE
“If you can increase the number of plants native to your particular region…those plants will have the best chance of supporting the greatest diversity of native species,” said Junaid Khan, research ecologist and pollinator stewardship coordinator at Pollinator Partnership Canada. , told The Weather Network earlier this year.
Khan told us about the role moths play in the pollination cycle, describing how native plants and pollinator species have evolved to benefit each other.
“Bees have developed these very specific and particular relationships that we continue to discover more and more. And there are about 842 species of bees that we know about, and we still don’t know what their complete floral network and their relationships.”
Canada has about 800 species of native bees and 7,000 species of moths, and we still have a lot to learn about the unique relationships they have developed with plants.
“One of the crucial things about moths is that we probably don’t even know the relationships we lose with moths and plants, due to the fact that we know so little about moths. “Khan said.
And native plants don’t just support pollinators. They also provide food and shelter for countless native species of rodents, amphibians, fish, and insects, among other creatures.
2. NATIVE PLANTS SAVE WATER
Native plants tend to retain moisture better than non-native varieties. It’s a scalable advantage that can translate into big savings for you – in money, resources, and effort.
3. NATIVE PLANTS ARE MORE WEATHER RESISTANT
Canadians are weather resistant – and so are our plants. Native greenery is more likely to survive Canada’s harsh winters, roller coaster springs and summer droughts, increasing the chances of them blooming in your garden year after year.
4. NATIVE PLANTS NEED LESS PESTICIDES
Once established in your garden, native plants are relatively easy to care for. It’s that country advantage again: over time, native species have developed natural defenses against local diseases and “pest” insects that can damage or kill exotic plants. If you want to reduce harsh chemicals and encourage natural predatory insects to do the work instead, native plants will help.
IDENTIFY NATIVE PLANTS
Libraries, local botanical gardens, and even government websites can be helpful resources for identifying native plants.
Websites like CanPlant and the Canadian Wildlife Foundation’s Encyclopedia of Native Plants can point gardeners in the right direction.
For design inspiration in southwestern Ontario, visit the University of Guelph Arboretum, online or in person.
Gosling Wildlife Gardens comprises a series of five backyard gardens set up to show visitors how to use their backyard to attract and support a wide range of wildlife.
Thumbnail Image Courtesy: MrGajowy3/9202 images/Pixabay.