After a long winter, spring brings the opportunity to beautify gardens and rejuvenate landscaping.
With a variety of plants at your disposal, don’t brush aside native plant species: They add a unique prairie look while offering a myriad of benefits.
Native species can withstand the Kansas weather, and thousands of years of adaption have allowed them to withstand the climate and seasonal changes easier than other plants. The plant will surely thrive if the species’ soil, moisture, and sun requirements are satisfied.
Plants adapted to Kansas’ climate have become accustomed to the amount of water in the area. If the site offers adequate moisture, introduction to a new site is usually the only time a native plant needs watering.
“Established native plants do not need watering, conserving water, and saving money.
Avoiding fertilizers is another reason to use native plants. Eschewing fertilizers is usually a good idea as they can harm the environment, animals, and humans. Native plants can flourish without the aid of fertilizers. Once again, adaptation has made them accustomed to the land’s soil, and fertilizers may make them unmanageable due to overgrowth.
“Using native plants benefits local wildlife.
Many plant-eating insects rely on specific species or families of plants to survive. For example, monarch butterflies rely on varieties of milkweed as host plants during the larvae stage. Native insects feed birds, fish, spiders, amphibians, etc., which keeps ecosystems in order. And herbicides used to protect exotic plants have a detrimental effect on much of the local wildlife.
“Preservation is an important reason for including native plants in your garden or landscaping. Many factors have led to a decrease in native populations. Urban development and agriculture have replaced much of the native prairie with lawns and crops, while the introduction of trees in some areas deprives prairie vegetation of sunlight. And keep in mind that taking plants from the wild damages natural environments as well, so make sure to buy your plants.
The best way to promote the benefits of native plants is to educate people about the plants’ importance.
“Native plants in creative settings act as an entry point for getting others involved.
Using native plants in your garden or landscaping this spring attracts attention, persuading others to learn more and inspiring them to include these wonderful plants in their yards. —By Kat Schneider
Photo above: A mass planting of cosmos will create a natural landscape.