Conservation

The Benefits of Native Plants

At the Wildcat Glades we strive to protect and plant those species of plants that have proven to coexist with the regional ecosystem.

The Benefits of Native Plants

Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center
Native wildflowers at Wildcat Glades Photo: Russ Kinerson

Native plants occur within a region as a result of natural processes rather than human intervention. In our region, the native plants are species that have been in existence prior to wide-spread European settlement, which dates back more than 200 years. Those humans native to this region did affect the ecosystems to some degree, but the biggest changes to the habitat and introduction of non-native plants happened in the mid-1800s. The native plant species in our region have endured and are best adapted to this climate and soil conditions. They have also co-evolved with the native insect species to provide important food resources for those thousands of species of invertebrates which in-turn provide food for native birds and other animals.

This system of landscaping reduces maintenance, helps manage storm water, promotes plants and wildlife conservation. This brings about the benefit of “no” pesticides and fertilizers and promotes that biodiversity needed to create a sustainable landscape.

Along with creating wildlife habitat, educational opportunities, and the seasonal beauty that the native plants display, the low/no maintenance that native plants offer is probably the greatest positive taken from this concept. Native plants require minimal watering and very little care to survive. Many of the plants can live for decades. They offer appealing features most of the year, rather than the bloom-and-done annuals from the store. Native plants can tolerate a wide range of light and moisture conditions. They can stay within scale of a given place and when grown in dense groupings they help eliminate weeds. Many of these plants do not spread readily from seed, which eliminates the invasive feature of other plants.

Choosing Native Plants

Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center
Zebra Swallowtail on Butterfly Weed Photo: Russ Kinerson

Our areas contain native perennial shrubs and herbaceous plants that can tolerate both temporary wet and dry periods. Plants were chosen for a combination of their beauty, wildlife value, and low maintenance. So examples of plants that do well in our region include:

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia carinalis)
  • Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
  • Shining Blue Star (Amsonia illustris)
  • Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)
  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepius incarnata)
  • New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
  • Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta)
  • Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
  • Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

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