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Plant Native

Category: Planting | Posted by: Mike Forste

What is meant by ‘Native?’

‘Native’ when it comes to plants means that a population (or grouping) has naturally developed and been established in an area for some significant amount of time. Here in Cincinnati, one can consider a plant to be ‘native’ to our region if it grows naturally anywhere from as far north as Michigan, west to Illinois, south to Tennessee, and to the East Coast. You can really narrow or widen your scope as much as you want to be as inclusive or exclusive as possible. Most times, a plant in the industry is labeled ‘native’ if it is found in the woodlands of North America, including Canada and parts of Mexico.

Different forms of ‘Native’ plants:

» Straight species (found in nature)
  • Ex. Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower)
  • Asimina triloba (pawpaw tree)
» Nativar (cultivated variety of a native plant)
  • Ex. Echinacea ‘Magnus’
» Hybrids (man-made) and naturally occurring hybrids
  • Ex: ’Jewel’ Black Raspberry


Why plant ‘Natives?’

Better for the world’s ECOLOGY and your personal ECONOMY, meaning: these plants are supposed to be here to help support our web of life, and they will perform year after year, not having to be replaced or treated for problems. Adapted to survive our climate and weather patterns (Cincinnati is Zone 6a… -10F to -5F)

Brings more life to your garden … we are part of the web of life. Bugs, birds, reptiles, mammals, bigger birds, bigger mammals.

  • Insects: Evolved side by side with the native plants as specialists (herbivory- plants are FOOD!)

Less inputs (fertilizer, insecticides, etc.) and less money spent over time

  • Healthier living areas
  • reduced cost for maintenance
  • lower water/sewer bills

Helps preserve the Natural History of the area

  • the same invasive formula can work just about anywhere, but it is STERILE AND BORING
  • sense of identity is saved through botanical heredity


Planting ‘Natives’ creates a more ENGAGED Gardener

  • checking for eggs/caterpillars/butterflies
  • insect appreciation (bees, worms, moths, wasps, beetles, and even flies! …REMEMBER: NO POLLINATORS = NO HUMAN FOOD!)
  • will be exposed to more natural interactions in the landscape

4 Season Benefits and Interest

  •     Spring: Flowers
  •     Summer: Flowers and Fruit
  •     Fall: Flowers, Fruit, and Seeds
  •     Winter: Habitat and extended food source

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