A native plant is indigenous to a specific location. This includes trees, flowers, grasses and other plants that are naturally found (or have existed for many years) in the area.
Why Plant Native?
It benefits native wildlife and fosters biodiversity
Native plants are uniquely prepared for the wildlife in our region and create ideal homes and food sources for them. Native plants and animals have co-evovled with one another over over time to maximize one another’s viability in nature. Red flowering currant blossoms, for example, is an excellent pollen source that feeds various species of native bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. The leaves of red alder and cascara trees provide food for catepillars (Pale Tiger Swallowtail butterfly) and those catepillars feed a number of nesting bird species. A huge variety of native fledglings eat only catepillars, not seed, so native plants are essential for birds These visiting creatures add beauty to the garden, they also help to propagate other plants including row crops and fruit trees.
It’s better for our health and the health of our water system
Just as native plants don’t require additional watering they also don’t need chemical pesticides or fertilizers to thrive. Traditional landscaping and maintainance of a green lawn during the summer months requires large amounts of chemicals. During times of high heat these chemicals produce vapors that pollute the air; traveling to neighboring gardens often damaging or killing plants in the process. Then, rain washes these toxins into our public water supply and streams and rivers causing pollution and health hazards to fish and people alike.
It can be lower maintenance
In place of a grassy lawn or beds of ornamentals, native plants can be a low cost, low maintenance option for the home garden. Choosing the righ plant for the right place is essential for reducing the need for inputs and unnecessary watering. Plants that have evolved to adapt to Oregon’s climate will require little watering if any once they have been established (after the first two years of being in the ground). Natives would have received “pruning” or “mowing” from wildfires and hungry animals. Replicating that in the garden may be necessary from time to time for aesthetic purposes.