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Native Plants Series: Native Shrubs

As far as native plants go, the emphasis in recent years has been primarily on promoting perennials. It's easy to understand why - gardeners want to see those bees and butterflies in action on their perennials. Native shrubs are now starting to get more attention as we learn more about how they fit into the food web for wildlife. I don't want you to run out and dig up all of your non-native shrubs (except those invasives which we'll address later). Special plants like roses still have a place in our gardens. But I do want to encourage you to consider native plants that provide an ecological function when you are ready to plant something new. Shrubs and trees provide food and habitat for insects, which in turn feed other wildlife. They will be more resistant to disease than your cultivars and shouldn't need regular fertilizing, either. As always, choose carefully for your own particular conditions. Some will need full sun, others part or full shade. Don't plant something suited to wet conditions in the dryest part of your landscape (yes, I have done this). Many native shrubs will get quite large, so ALWAYS read those plant labels and BELIEVE THEM. And ask lots of questions at the garden center. Robert H. Mohlenbrock, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth.

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