Replacing Non-Natives

Alternative Native Plants for Replacing Non-native Species

Exotic plants make up 95% of our landscape. These are plants that are not native to our region, but come from all parts of the globe. These plants generally require more maintenance and certainly are not as efficient at feeding and housing our native wildlife. Some exotic species are also very invasive. So much so, entire landscapes have been altered forever. Invasive exotic plant species can be detrimental to natural fire and water regimes, erosion, nectar and seed sources and our bees, birds and butterflies that depend upon our native plant species. Garden centers, nurseries and greenhouses supply homeowners and landscapers with chemical-laden and harmful exotic species of trees, grasses and flowers. Billions of dollars are spent each year eradicating exotic plants from our parks, preserves and farmlands. They invade our woodlands and wetlands, pushing, crowding or shading out our native flora.

Many less harmful plants have been ‘naturalized’ here. Well known plants such as dandelions, Queen Ann’s Lace, chickory and narrow-leaved cattail have escaped early settler’s gardens and ponds and have become part of our landscape. In our gardens, we have much control what goes in and stays: fragile natural areas are susceptible to invasion of naturalized and exotic species. We have an obligation as gardeners to plant only those trees, grasses, shrubs and flowers that will provide shelter, nesting sites, seeds and nectar for our dwindling species of birds, insects and butterflies.

There are many native plants available to replace cultivars and non-native plants that you may have in your current landscape. We encourage the use of native plants for wildlife value as well as for preservation of our native flora. Many non-native species are invasive and detrimental to our birds, butterflies and other insects; they can also reduce the capacity for erosion control and storm water absorption. Replacing non-native species and encouraging native plants will bring wildlife and beauty to your landscape at home, work or school.

Non-native Replace with
Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus Smooth Sumac
Red or Black Chokeberry
Bush Honeysuckle, Lonicera spp. Winterberry Holly
Red Osier or Silky Dogwood
Common Elderberry
Great St. John’s Wort
Butterfly Bush, Buddleia Bottonbush
Japanese Barberry, Berberis spp. Meadowsweet
Blue Indigo
Non-native Grasses (short) Prairie Dropseed
Side-oats Grama
Little Bluestem
June Grass
Non-native Grasses (tall) Big Bluestem
Indian Grass
Prairie Cordgrass
Switch Grass
Kentucky Bluegrass (lawn) Buffalo Grass
Porcelain Berry, Ampelopsis brevipedunculata Grape Vine
Virgin’s Bower
English Ivy, Hedera helix Virginia Creeper
Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima Sumac
Weeping Willow, Salix spp. Pussy Willow
Autumn Olive, Eleagnus umbellata Nannyberry
American Plum
American Hazelnut
Prickly Ash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *