Why Garden With Native Plants?
Ontario is home to a wide variety of beautiful native plants. From tall white pines (Pinus strobus) to orchids, Ontario’s native flora is spectacular, with many suited to your garden conditions.
A native plant is one that grew here prior to European colonization. These plants have survived for thousands of years and are well adapted to the local weather conditions.
Gardening is the second most popular physical activity in Canada. Native plant gardening is a positive contributor to the natural environment. The environmental and aesthetic reasons for gardening with native plants are very compelling. With research and proper plant selection, indigenous plant gardens almost look after themselves, after all that is what happens in nature.
Using native plants in your garden is beneficial because:
- Ontario’s native plants are vital to local ecosystems as they have evolved here over a very long period. These plants are the foundation of our natural communities.
- These do the best job of providing food and shelter for native wild animals.
- They improve soil, air and water quality by removing toxins and pollution.
- They provide a home for many species that are becoming increasingly rare in the wild.
- Using locally adapted native plants species instead of exotic species can increase biodiversity
- They generally can eliminate the need for chemical inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers that cause harm to other life and contaminate the water.
- They stabilize soil, prevent erosion and are generally more efficient at filtering storm water.
- Uniqueness; does not look like the Jones’s garden.
- They are beautiful!
Due to globalization, plant species are being moved great distances throughout the world with some species causing negative effects on the novel habitats they have invaded. Some of these plants, like dog-strangling vine (Vincetoxicum rossicum) for example, compete with our native species, reducing their numbers, which offsets the balance in the ecosystem. Besides taking up space that could be used by native plants, they also affect wildlife. For example monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) lay their eggs on dog-strangling vine, which is a member of the milkweed family. The caterpillars eventually die as dog-strangling vine does not have the same nutritional values as the native members of this family. Once established in a region, invasive alien species thrive due to a lack of predators that would keep their numbers in check.
Native plants are growing in popularity among gardeners because of their low maintenance. Naturalized areas and gardens are aesthetically pleasing and provide a healthier environment for all. Water shortages and bans in the summer make native plants ideal for gardening. They are adapted to the climate and require less, if any watering, which saves the landowner money and time while creating a beautiful garden that teems with wildlife.