Ready To Go Native?
We’re talking about native plants, of course! The winter months are a good time to make plans for your landscape, to think about what you’d like to plant, and how you can benefit wildlife. Here in JB Hostetter’s garden center, we have a keen interest in nature, and have been offering natives for a number of years. These hard-working trees, shrubs, and perennials do it all – they add beauty to your home, benefit insects, birds, and animals, and generally require less maintenance in order to thrive. They are problem-solvers, too – there are natives adapted to almost any type of ecosystem, be it dry, wet, shady, acidic, or a combination of difficult variables. Because they’re native to our area, you know they’re hardy, able to withstand whatever temperatures and weather conditions we receive.
Many people have become concerned about the serious decline of many species of insects, including honeybees and Monarch butterflies. Bird species have also been declining at a rapid rate. Planting natives can benefit our wildlife and may help slow the loss of some species. As an example, oak trees are said to benefit more insect species than any other trees. Some of those insects become beautiful butterflies, and others provide food for birds! The acorns feed many mammals. The broad canopy of leaves gives us shade. Everything and everyone wins when you plant an oak!
Botanists have been hard at work identifying native plants that work well in our home environments. They have found varieties of species that have interesting foliage, larger or more colorful flowers, or produce more pollen and nectar. These cultivars of native plants (known as “nativars”) may be better suited to home use than the standard species due to smaller size, better adaptability, or for aesthetic reasons. Conversely, many non-native trees and plants, while beautiful, do not offer nectar, fruits, or suitable shelter for wildlife.
Bottom line – Plan to landscape with natives this year – your bees, butterflies, and birds will thank you!
More information on native species can be found at www.panativeplantsociety.org, www. paaudubon.org, and www.dcnr.pa.gov/conservation/wildplants. Local garden clubs may be able to give you information, too.