Recently a friend and I visited the Maymont Plant Sale where many vendors were selling native plants. Ever since reading up on planting natives for our area and natural habitat, I’ve had natives on our wishlist.
When we started the garden, “natives” was not a buzzword. In the beginning, we were just trying to fill the garden with aesthetically pleasing butterfly attracting perennials, and I didn’t pay much attention to its origin or whether it was considered invasive (Our butterfly bushes are!).
Now we see the word “native” stamped on many plants, it’s trendy. But it’s also the right thing to do to attract and keep those beneficial insects that are naturally your backyard buddies.
It’s funny because some of the natives that were being sold, we might consider a weed in our yard. The violet springing up as a cover crop in Millie’s garden? Guilty- I was pulling it out last summer. And at the plant sale, it was being sold for $7.50 in a quart sized pot!
As I’m learning more and more, the word “native” is a general term (all plants are native to someplace!), however there are many facets and considerations to what a native is and how it is grown. Is it grown from seed (preferable) or propagated? Is it grown from a seed specific to the geographical location where it is being offered (preferable), or is it a native in California as well, and the plant you are buying is a native from California? So many layers of information to uncover as we continue to add to Millie’s garden.
Good Seed Natives
They had some great buys, and I am especially excited for these new additions. The ladies were very knowledgeable, and the plants I purchased were started from seed from a plant that is native to the Virginia area, so even though the prices were higher, I knew I was getting “the real deal.” They are all full sun, clay tolerant, and deer resistant perennials – a triple win for us.
-New England aster. We added two of these in the garden along the edges, and I can’t wait until August when they begin to bloom. As I write this, I realize I have no idea what color the blooms might be, I just assumed blue. I’ll update y’all in August!
-American boneset. This plant is not on our wishlist, although its relative, Joe Pye Weed, is. This plant spreads through rhizomes underground. If it’s anything like the hop rhizomes we have planted at my mom’s then this will be a vigorous plant! I added this along the edge, close to our hopping rocks, and where our columbine failed to thrive last year. It’s a super sunny spot, which explains why the columbine may have failed and is also a promising home for the sun-loving plant. So far this plant has not made that initial “I’m home” jump, but I hope with this recent rain it will begin growing.
-Evening primrose. This is an interesting add- it’s a plant whose flower opens at dusk and closes in the morning, providing a food source to night moths. After buying a few of these, and doing research, it is labelled “invasive” and the ladies did inform…forewarn?…me that this plant will reseed vigorously throughout the entire yard. This also, was not on the wishlist. Well, maybe? I did have the general umbrella of “natives” on my wishlist.
RVA homegrown natives
-Virginia mountain mint. We love mint in our garden, and it’s quick to spread. I hope this mint will, too. It likes wet feet, and apparently partial shade according to wildflowers.org. I planted it right in front of one of our garden stones, and it gets full sun. The bugle carpet, which prefers shadier locations has seems to survive, even if it’s not thriving. It was a welcome surprise to find as I weeded and prepped this area.
-potentilla canadensis. This is another easy growing, easy going native and should thrive in the full sun. It will attract bees, bunnies, and birds according to North Carolina’s Gardener Extension. It should spread and cover the ground well over time, which would be lovely!
I can’t afford to add only natives to the garden, although I am happy that in some small way we are adding plants that will benefit native pollinators.
What is your favorite plant that attracts pollinators?
Read about Part 1 here.
Read about Part 2 here.