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.
|Burning Bush, Euonymus alatus||
Red or Black Chokeberry
|Bush Honeysuckle, Lonicera spp.||
Red Osier or Silky Dogwood
Great St. John’s Wort
|Butterfly Bush, Buddleia||Bottonbush|
|Japanese Barberry, Berberis spp.||
|Non-native Grasses (short)||
|Non-native Grasses (tall)||
|Kentucky Bluegrass (lawn)||Buffalo Grass|
|Porcelain Berry, Ampelopsis brevipedunculata||
|English Ivy, Hedera helix||Virginia Creeper|
|Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima||
|Weeping Willow, Salix spp.||Pussy Willow|
|Autumn Olive, Eleagnus umbellata||