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Where Can You Find Native Plants for Your Garden?

When you begin to use native plants in your garden, you are starting to garden ecologically. This is different from the traditional horticulture practices that most of us have always known. Natives require much less input in terms of soil amendments, fertilizers, and disease and pest control measures. The plants you choose provide an ecological function, not just something pretty to look at. But where do you get these native plants? Have you ever noticed them in your favorite garden center? Here in the mid-Atlantic, only 25% of the plants sold are natives. Of that 25%, only 23% are true natives,the rest are hybrids or cultivars (nativars). These options are better than non-natives/cultivars, but you need to be a little careful about the nativars - they may have been altered enough to no longer provide the benifits to wildlife that the original native plant did. Specifically, changes in leaf color (which also make them untasty) or flower shapes (those that make pollen/nectar inaccessible) are no longer beneficial to wildlife. So how do you find native plants? Go to your favorite garden center and ask for them. Find out what's available, and ASK FOR MORE! Ask them to create a native-specific section in the shop. Create the demand we need to see. Here in South Central PA we have a great resource in the Diakon Wilderness Greenhouse & Native Plant Nursery in Boiling Springs. Stop in and see them this year! Data source: Amy Highland, CCLC 2019 Conference

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