Native plants have many advantages over exotic plants. I thought for today’s Friday Fives Post I would mention five native plants that are pretty neat to have in your garden. First though let’s define the terms native and exotic. Exotic plants are those that are not indigenous to your region. They’ve either been brought from other place by seed or in plant form. In many cases exotic plants can be awesome plants in the landscape. I think often people get confused between exotic plants and exotic-invasive plants. Sometimes exotic plants do too well in an area and begin to dominate which of course is also when they become a problem. They can choke out native forage plants that animals need to survive and may not have the necessary features to adequately nourish our wildlife.
There are several advantages to planting native plants in your garden.
- Native plants feed and nourish the local wildlife.
- Native plants are better adapted to weather conditions than exotics in most cases.
- Native plants are also more drought tolerant which is good for gardeners in regions where water can be scarce.
- Native plants provide nesting locations and shelter for many forms of wildlife.
Native plants can become invasive or aggressive growers, but this is how they developed and the local ecology developed with them over many, many years.
So there you have a small comparison of native vs. exotic plants. It’s a subject that can go into much greater detail but that covers it in a nutshell. Now it’s time for the fun stuff – the plants! Below are five neat native plants that are either in or around my garden areas.
Five Neat Natives!
Cross Vine or Bignonia capreolata. This extremely long vine (up to 50 ft.) is a great food source for hummingbirds and butterflies. In the garden it could be a great option for trellising over an arbor or other garden structure. This cross vine is all over our wilder slope areas. I’ve allowed it to do it’s own thing but I’m also tempted to take a few cuttings and introduce it into a more formal arbor setting.
Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is a really cool vine/bush. I’ve written about my red coral honeysuckle several times before so I won’t go into great detail here but it’s another great hummingbird magnet! It doesn’t have as strong of a scent as the Japanese honeysuckle but it makes up for it with it’s amazing flowers.
Near the honeysuckle I have golden ragwort (Packera aurea) given to me by Gail at Clay and Limestone. It’s done beautifully here nestled underneath a crape myrtle (exotic) and beside my side garden arbor. The crape myrtle is bare when the ragwort blooms then shields it from the sun during the summer. The ragwort has spread by its seeds very well but not overwhelmingly. It would be easy to cultivate quite a few of these spring bloomers into a mass of yellow.
Fothergilla is a neat relative of the witchhazel. It’s a shrub that forms these puffy white flowers each spring. It’s a neat plant but I honestly have neglected it. The area surrounding it needs weeded and a good mulch will make this small shrub very happy.
- I like this next native a lot but it can have some health issues: the dogwood! This picture was from my mother’s garden but we do have several dogwoods in and around our own gardens (they don’t look as pretty though!) Dogwoods feed the birds in the fall with their bright red berries. Unfortunately they can suffer from powdery mildew and anthracnose. Newer cultivars are more resistant but are usually made from a hybrid of Cornus florida (native) and Cornus kousa (exotic).