Add Some Native Plants
What’s all the buzz about native plants? Native plants are often defined as plants that existed in an area naturally, without human interaction. Many native plants are happy in our clay soil and can handle the soupy summer humidity we experience in North Carolina. Native species are four times more likely to attract local pollinators to them, and they typically support three times as many species as non-native plants. Choosing native plants for your home can be a lot of fun, and there are many beautiful plants to choose from that have a variety of different growing needs to fit in all of the areas of your yard. Check out some of these plants if you’re interested in adding more variety to your landscape.
Perhaps the most important advantage of using native plants in your landscape is their ability to support local wildlife. Choose common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), or swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnate) if you want to draw in and support monarch butterflies, since they only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana) both provide large amounts of berries for birds from summer into fall. Add just a few species around your home to help support many different types of wildlife.
If you’re looking to add fall color, oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) and dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia) are both great shrubs that offer excellent red and orange color in the fall, as well as distinct white flowers in the spring. Joe pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) is a beautiful fall plant that blooms powder pink in the landscape into fall, brightening the view, and there are many native asters in a variety of colors that will also bloom into the fall.
To draw in hummingbirds, consider adding dwarf red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), or swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) to your garden space. Each of these offer bright red flowers that hummingbirds love. Buckeye is a large shrub/small tree that will bloom in spring. Use coral honeysuckle to climb up an arbor or railing, and it will reward you with flowers deep into the cold months. Swamp hibiscus can tolerate a large range of soil conditions, including those that get water logged longer than you would like.
There are so many great native plants that I couldn’t list them all in one article. If you’re interested in learning more about native plants, or looking for more ideas of how to add them to your landscape, join me next month for a class covering all this and more September 17 at 10 a.m. at the Agriculture Resource Center, 1175 S Brady Ave, Newton, NC. Feel free to call me with questions or for more suggestions.