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Why Should Gardeners Use Native Plants in a Landscape?

In Michigan in the fall, we’re thinking about planting spring flowering bulbs and getting gardens ready for the winter.

In the same season, my friend and guest blogger, Wanda Fitzgerald, is planting tomatoes and cool weather crops…and working on her landscaping.

Wanda an accomplished gardener, among many other talents. She loves using native plants in her Florida home garden.

Plants that are too tender to grow outdoors all year in my garden, due to our Michigan winters, are just right in Florida. And since gardeners think on a year-round level, it can inspire your garden planning, no matter what climate or gardening zone you have in your garden.

Why should gardeners use native plants in a landscape?

By Wanda Fitzgerald

gardening with native plants Passion flowerOne reason, especially in Florida, is that people visit the state to enjoy the unique natural habitats, so why not use some of the 2,800 native species of plants and trees that grow so well here in our home landscapes? After all, 1 out of every 12 Florida native plants are found in Florida and nowhere else. Planting them in a garden gives a unique esthetic appeal that no other place in the world has.

Florida has a number of different ecosystems. There are swamps and mangrove swamps, sand hills and scrub lands, bottom-land and up-land hardwoods, flat woods, and tropical hammocks. The variety and number of native species in Florida is vast, and the interest in using them in home gardens is growing.

There are other reasons for landscaping with native plants:

  • First, if chosen correctly they will require less irrigation and therefore will reduce the amount of water needed in communities. In most areas of Florida there are water restrictions for home lawns and landscapes so it’s vital to keep the consumption to a minimum.
  • Additionally because these plants have evolved over centuries to thrive in their natural habitats they will require less fertilizer and pesticides. Using fewer chemicals in the landscape will reduce the amount of runoff water and the lakes will be less contaminated.
  • Also native plants provide the habitat for many types of birds, butterflies, and pollinating insects.
  • And finally the natural look of native plants can help to change the monotony of the typical suburban garden. Many of them are fragrant and brightly colored, adding seasonal changes to the surroundings.

When choosing landscape plants:

  • Consult a local garden center that has specific knowledge about natives.
  • Use their expertise and support their business. They will sell plants that have been grown in pots and will not be stressed when moved to a home garden.
  • Never dig plants from the wild to bring home and use in a garden. There are many natives that are illegal to dig in Florida because they are scarce or endangered. And removing them will harm the delicate ecosystems and wildlife they support. In most cases they don’t do well when transplanted. Try taking cuttings or collecting seeds instead.

The notion that a natural landscape is not as attractive as the typical plantings installed in communities is not always accepted anymore. As native plant landscaping becomes more main stream in Florida more homeowners and gardeners will gain awareness of natural habitats and wildlife. And as more native plants are being grown specifically for home landscape use, their popularity will increase and both people and the wildlife and vegetation in Florida will benefit.

If you love to garden in Florida read more about it at Florida Native Gardening, and Florida Blueberry Gardening. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com.

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