The Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio
You can create your own
landscaping by using native plants.
Native Plants in Our Landscape
Consider using some of our beautiful native plants when planning your garden or designing your landscape. Natives give our landscape a sense of place and promote a more biologically rich region. (Native Plants, sometimes called “Endemic Plants,” are those that have grown in the region without human intervention since before European settlement. Those that have been introduced since the onset of European settlement are referred to as “non-native,” “alien” or “introduced.”)
Look for local ecotypes. These are native plants that developed in this area and are best suited for the local climate and conditions. For example, Red Maple is a tree native to the entire eastern half of North America, but a Red Maple from the south may not do as well in Northeast Ohio as a Red Maple originally from Northeast Ohio.
Keep in mind that the right plant must still be planted in the right place. A local ecotype native that naturally grows in a shady swamp will not do well if planted high and dry in a sunny garden bed. Learn to respect the contours and idiosyncrasies of your space. If you have a low damp spot, there are many native plants that will do just fine in those conditions. If you have a hot dry place in your yard, there are native plants that will thrive in that spot. A little research will yield the best results. You might start with the list of Native Plants for Northeast Ohio suggested by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and consider this list of native alternatives to some common harmful invasives. Also ask a reputable nursery for advice. When you ask, consider this list of questions to make sure you are getting the best native plants for your situation.
Native plants will do just fine in a traditional garden bed, and you can use them to create a lovely garden. Maximize the benefit of native plants to the environment by using them as nature does.
Ø Plant in groups and use layers of plants to fill the space.
Ø Avoid the use of fertilizer - excess nitrogen only encourages weeds.
Ø Skip the pesticides. Embrace a little insect "use." A few holes in the leaves mean caterpillars and the promise of butterflies in the future.
Ø Leave plant seeds for the birds - allow stalks and grasses to stand as cover for the winter.
Think of your garden's function as well as its beauty. Native plants are vital to the web of life, which ultimately supports us all.
There is other help available for those wishing to use native plants. For example, see the following resources:
Northeast Ohio Public Involvement Public Education Committee (NEO PIPE) has developed a 19-page booklet on how to plan and install a rain garden.
In addition to asking at your local nursery, try checking the following sources.
Audubon Ohio lists a number of places to buy native plants in Ohio.
If you are looking for particular plants, you can start with the Plant Information Online website of the University of Minnesota, which includes plants from over a thousand nurseries in North America. Once you have found the plant there, a couple more clicks will lead you to sources for that plant.
According to the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture’s National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC), an ‘”invasive species is a species non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Invasive plants often do this by crowding out native species. One study cited by the NISIC estimates that the total costs of invasive plants and other invasive species in the United States, for such things as control costs and forage loss, amount to more than $100 billion each year. This study goes on to say:
Most of the 5000 alien plants established in U.S. natural ecosystems have displaced several native plant species. Alien weeds are spreading and invading approximately [1.7 million acres per ] year of the U.S. wildlife habitat. One of these pest weeds is the European purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), which was introduced in the early 19th century as an ornamental plant. It has been spreading at a rate of [284,000 acres per] year and is changing the basic structure of most of the wetlands it has invaded. Competitive stands of purple loosestrife have reduced the biomass of 44 native plants and endangered wildlife, like the bog turtle and several duck species, that depend on these native plants. Loosestrife now occurs in 48 states and costs $45 million per year in control costs and forage losses. (Citations omitted.)
Ohio has approximately 2700 species of plants, of which 1800 are considered native and the remaining alien, many becoming quite acclimated and widespread. Check out a video produced by the Ohio Invasive Plant Council on Garlic Mustard, another particularly troublesome non-native invasive plant.
Aim high. Consider adopting for yourself this voluntary code of conduct for gardeners that aims to protect our environment by the use of appropriate plants in our gardens.
of Northeastern Ohio
Guidelines for Gardeners about Invasives
The Guidelines below are from the Center for Plant Conservation. They have been adopted by The Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, and the Society encourages all gardeners to look to them as best practices to the extent feasible.
Ask for only non-invasive species when you acquire plants. Plant only environmentally safe species in your gardens. Work towards and promote new landscape design that is friendly to regional ecosystems.
Seek information on which species are invasive in your area. Sources could include botanical gardens, horticulturists, conservationists, and government agencies. Remove invasive species from your land and replace them with non-invasive species suited to your site and needs.
Do not trade plants with other gardeners if you know they are species with invasive characteristics.
Request that botanical gardens and nurseries promote, display, and sell only non-invasive species.
Help educate your community and other gardeners in your area through personal contact and in such settings as garden clubs and other civic groups.
Ask garden writers and other media to emphasize the problem of invasive species and provide information. Request that garden writers promote only non-invasive species.
Invite speakers knowledgeable on the invasive species issue to speak to garden clubs, master gardeners, schools and other community groups.
Seek the best information on control of invasive plant species and organize neighborhood work groups to remove invasive plant species under the guidance of knowledgeable professionals.
Volunteer at botanical gardens and natural areas to assist ongoing efforts to diminish the threat of invasive plants.
Participate in early warning systems by reporting invasive species you observe in your area. Determine which group or agency should be responsible for reports emanating from your area. If no 800 number exists for such reporting, request that one be established, citing the need for a clearinghouse with an 800 number and website links to information about invasive plant species. [Note: The Early detection & Distribution Mapping System (“EDDMapS”) has a website where invasive plants and other pests can be reported: http://www.eddmaps.org.]
Assist garden clubs to create policies regarding the use of invasive species not only in horticulture, but in activities such as flower shows. Urge florists and others to eliminate the use of invasive plant material.The Center For Plant Conservation: http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/invasives/gardeningN.html
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