Go native this fall, native plants that is. This is a g-rated article after all.
This fall, we are celebrating native plants in conjunction with Keep America Beautiful’s annual National Planting Day. The day is a reminder to celebrate the value and power of native species for local landscapes.
Native plants are essential in restoring ecological balance to our environment. They are a natural and healthy way to create greener and more beautiful communities.
What makes a native plant native? The Federal Register defines native plants as those that are “naturally occurring, either presently or historically, in any ecosystem of the United States.”
If you love to have birds and butterflies in your yard, you will want to consider using native plants. Natives are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects that in turn provide food for birds and, ultimately, many more animals up the food chain. Natives also provide habitat for wildlife. Natives are hardy, low maintenance and usually require less water than other ornamentals. So if you are looking for an easy to maintain yard or garden, natives should be your go-to plants.
Here are a few natives I love for you to consider:
• Shenandoah or red switch grass is a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaves fades to beige. This luscious grass is a compact selection of an American native prairie grass that grows in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
• Trumpet honeysuckle likes sun or part shade. This vine grows rapidly. It has gold to scarlet red tubular flowers from spring through summer. It is pretty on a trellis or on a fence.
• The Carolina yellow jessamine is a fast growing evergreen climbing vine that grows best in moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Its yellow trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers cover the vine in February and March. It is useful for growing on trellises, fences or mailboxes.
• The oakleaf hydrangea is a medium to fast growing shrub that grows best in moist, well-drained soils in partial shade. Its large white, fragrant flower clusters are about 12” in length and occur from May through June.
• The Southern wax myrtle is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree. It is often multi-trunked, with gray-green aromatic leaves and clusters of blue-gray fruits on female plants. It prefers moist, acid soils but is adaptable to other conditions, including wet sites with poor drainage. The wax myrtle grows best in full sun to light shade and it is useful as a tall screen or specimen tree.
• Star anise has rich, green foliage with the smell of anise, almost licorice. The blooms in June are small yellow-green flowers. Star anise prefers moist soil and full sun or light shade. It is cold tolerant. Theses shrubs are useful for screening or hedges.
• Bottlebrush is also a Southern favorite. Callistemon species have commonly been referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush-like flowers, which resemble a traditional bottle brush. Most species are drought-resistant and are striking when used in ornamental landscaping.
• Milkweed is one of the keys to having monarch butterflies. Monarch caterpillars must have milkweed. Because of modern
changes, such as urban sprawl, there’s much less milkweed than used to be.
• Black eyed susans are native to North America and one of the most popular wildflowers grown. They can blanket open fields. Their flowers are beautiful..
Native plants are just waiting to help you create a beautiful. If you want to learn more, there are some excellent online resources to help you choose the right species:
Check out our website: www.keeplibertybeautiful.org this month for more on National Planting Day and native plants and creating pollinator gardens. Contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880 4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.