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Native plants are those that evolved naturally
in the area before humans introduced
plants from distant places. They are adapted
to local soil, rainfall and temperature
conditions and have developed natural
defenses to many insects and diseases.
Many help to enrich the soil. Their root
systems help rainfall percolate into the soil,
reducing erosion and runoff. Because of
these traits, native plants will grow with
minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides.
Birds, butterflies and wildlife species evolve
with plants, using native plant communities
as their habitat. Natural balance keeps
each species in check, allowing it to thrive
where it is suited, but preventing it from
becoming invasive, as plants introduced
from other areas can be.
When planning to `go native' in your
garden, it's a good idea to try to re-create
a natural habitat, grouping plants together
as they grow in the wild. Arrange plants
in groups or groves, providing layers of
vegetation. Consider complementing
colors, textures, sizes and shapes, so that
your garden provides different interest in
different seasons. Select plants that fruit
or bloom during different times of the year
to provide food for wildlife year round.
Native plants should not be removed from
the wild unless the area is about to be
developed. Even then, it is difficult to
transplant wild-collected plants and to
duplicate their soil and other growth
requirements in a home garden. Plants
that are grown from seed or cuttings by
nurseries have a greater tolerance for
garden conditions. Purchasing plants
that have been grown, not collected,
helps preserve natural areas. Most local
nurseries carry some native plants.
Lists of native plants are available through
the
Maryland Native Plant Society,
www.mdflora.org and
Maryland DNR
Heritage Program. A 24-page booklet
Native Plants of Maryland, What, Where,
When
(downloadable from the
University
of Maryland Extension Service) lists
varieties of native trees, grasses, shrubs,
vines, herbaceous plants and groundcovers,
including growing conditions (light, soil,
moisture), color, and bloom period.
Non-native plants or those introduced
from other parts of the world or other parts
of the country (particularly the more exotic
ornamentals) can be invasive. With few
or no naturally occurring measures such as
native insects or competitors to control
them, invasive plants can spread rapidly
and smother native vegetation. With so
many attractive native plants to choose
from, it only makes sense to go native
and grow native in your garden.
Go Native, Grow Native
c o r a l h o n e y s u c k l e
m a i d e n h a i r f e r n
m o s s p l o x
j a c o b 's l a d d e r
e a s t e r n h e m l o c k
m o u n t a i n l a u r e l
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