What is a native plant?
Plants are defined as native if they occur in a specific region, ecosystem or habitat without any intervention from people, either direct or indirect, according to the U.S. National Arboretum. The arboretum further stipulates that to be considered a native, it needed to be present before the arrival of Europeans in North America.
Why grow native plants
Native plants add beauty to a garden and form a critical habitat for butterflies and bees and other wildlife in a manner that most non-natives do not. They are also hardier, more drought resistant, and require less maintenance than non-native flowers. Natives help restore natural environments and habitats.
Are non-natives harmful?
Some non-native plants such as Camellias, a plant indigenous to Asia, co-exist peacefully with native plants although they may not provide the necessary berries, seeds or pollen required by birds, pollinators and other wildlife native to the East Coast.
Many non-natives, some deliberately introduced to the U.S. and others that arrived on their own, are now seen as highly invasive and extremely destructive. Their aggressive nature enables them to out compete native species in the country’s forests. Even if an invasive plant does not appear to spread in a gardener’s own yard, the plants are widely dispersed to forests and elsewhere by birds after they eat the berries. They form dense thickets, displacing numerous native woody and herbaceous plant species causing ecological and economic harm, according to the USDA Forest Service, which tracks their spread.