- Once established, many native plants thrive on rainfall alone, needing no irrigation.
- Since native plants have co-evolved with local pests and diseases, they often have a symbiotic relationship. They require few or no chemical pesticides or fungicides. They also require less fertilizer. This makes them easier to grow and better for the environment.
- Native plants provide nectar, seeds and berries for birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects. Branches offer shelter and nesting sites for birds, while leaves present caterpillars with the food they need to become the beautiful butterflies we love to share our gardens with. Some animals require specific plants for their survival, and are becoming endangered by the dwindling supply of their host plants. For example, milkweed is an important food source for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies, and they are the only plant on which they can lay their eggs. Learn more about the threat of extinction facing Monarch butterflies here.
"Years of research by evolutionary biologists have shown that the area required to sustain biodiversity is pretty much the same as the area required to generate it in the first place. The consequence of this simple relationship is profound. Since we have taken 95% of the U.S. from nature we can expect to lose 95% of the species that once lived here unless we learn how to share our living, working, and agricultural spaces with biodiversity. 95% of all plants and animals! … The good news is that extinction takes awhile, so if we start sharing our landscapes with other living things, we should be able to save much of the biodiversity that still exists."
You can read more of Doug Tallamy's ideas at his website, Bringing Nature Home.
For examples of native plants that are good substitutes for some commonly used plants, visit Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.