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Quick Guide: Native Plants

Native plants require far less water, save time, money and should be a part of your landscape plans if you are serious about conservation. Native plants adapted to the climate and soil conditions of your area and as a result, need fewer inputs like water and fertilizer. They are also more resistant to local pests. This means they thrive in your yard and you spend less time tending to them. This happens without taking beauty out of the equation. Some of the most beautiful landscapes around are made up of all or a majority of native plants.

Helping Slow Climate Change

Native trees like oaks and maples store carbon dioxide, one of the primary greenhouse gases. Native plants root structure dives deep into the soil. This root structure allows the native plants to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. An additional way they help is by reducing fossil fuel use in lawnmowers and maintenance trucks needed to maintain landscapes. They reduce noise and carbon pollution from lawn mower exhaust as well.

How Do I Find Native Plants For Where I Live

Different native plants grow in different zones. Each zone has seasonal variations depending on water availability. Some natives grow in more than one zone. Thanks to a few great websites selecting plants for your landscape or project is easy. To start a simple Google search for term native plants for (your location) often yields excellent results. You can also use https://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/communities to see all the plant communities of California and some beautiful photos provide ideas of how they fit in your landscape. This website http://www.plantnative.org/nd_ca.htm provides a list of nurseries selling native plants in California.

There Is A National Native Seed Strategy

The National Seed Strategy is a collaboration of 12 federal agencies led by the Bureau of Land Management. They promote the use of native plants for conservation and restoration. They believe the use of native plant material in conservation, restoration, and land management results in healthy ecosystems countering the effects of invasive plant species, altered wildfire regimes, extreme weather events and human-caused events. You can read the National Seed Strategy here. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/Native_Plant_Materials/documents/SeedStrategy081215.pdf


When you garden with native plants and avoid insecticides, you create a pollinator-friendly landscape curbing pollinator decline. Planting a variety of flowering native plants that flower throughout the year attract and support pollinators all year long.

Monarch Butterfly

Milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars can eat. Many gardeners are growing milkweed today to support monarch butterflies. In this Native Milkweeds guide http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/xerces-nrcs-california-milkweed-guide.pdf you learn not all milkweeds are beneficial to monarch butterflies.

Monarch butterfly number plummeted over the past 20 years due to the expansion of homes and clear-cutting of natural landscapes.The good news is their numbers increased the past couple of years due to efforts by gardeners and organizations like The National Wildlife Federation.

Hopefully, this quick guide provides some inspiration for you to plant natives. At a minimum maybe you research native plants more and learn about the amazing ways they enhance your gardens, wildlife habitats, and restoration areas. I'm sure many of you have experience with native plants, and we would love it if you would share them in the comment area. If you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to the blog or following me on twitter @H2oTrends.

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Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association's Board of Directors and is a University of California Master Gardener. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.


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