Definition

Native species are plants, 🍄︎ fungi or 🐟︎ 🐢︎🐇︎ animals that:

To learn more about using native plants in landscaping


  1. See the video above or to left, on creating the Forest Garden:  integrating local ecology, food production, and our desired lifestyle.  For full effect, select the video image, then icons YouTube (if present), ⏯︎ ⊠ Skip Ads (if present),  captions (if you wish),  full­screen, and ▶︎ Play.
     
  2. 🇨🇦 🇺🇸 In Canada and USA, please see this list of native plant societies.
  3. 🇺🇸 In USA, attend 🏛 educational programs and ☀︎🚶︎🏠︎ field trips of your local chapter of Wild Ones Natural Landscapers (Facebook).
    If no chapter yet in your area, there may be soon.  Until then, check out these  ▶︎  Wild Ones videos, and other videos on their channels.
  4. 🇺🇸 In USA's New England (especially Massachusetts), attend 🏛 educational programs and ☀︎🚶︎🏠︎ field trips of the Native Plant Trust.
    In Ohio, please see the Midwest Native Plant Society.


  5. Watch videos above or to left, of Doug Tallamy talk 🔥︎💦︎🌱︎☀︎🌾︎🐛︎🐦︎ Plant Natives in , or talk It's For the Birds in .  For full effect, select a video image, then icons ⛶ ⤢⤡ full­screen,  captions (if you wish),  full­screen, and ▶︎ Play.

    Or read anything by Doug Tallamy, such as article "Gardening for Life."  Wild Ones Journal.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file (2 pages) or book Bringing Nature Home:  How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. — explains why and how🔥︎💦︎🌱︎☀︎🌾︎🐛︎🐦︎!
  6. Awesome handbook from Wild Ones Natural Landscapers Landscaping with Native PlantsAdobe Acrobat Reader file (page 2)
  7. Look into film Hometown Habitat by Catherine Zimmerman — the best explanation I have seen!
     ▶︎  Trailer and  ▶︎  37-min interview with, at end,  ▶︎  2m15s film trailer.   For full effect, select a video link button, then icons YouTube (if present), ⏯︎ ⊠ Skip Ads (if present),  captions (if you wish),  full­screen, and ▶︎ Play.
    Film review.   The film itself (check groups above for group showings).
  8. 👂︎ Listen to the native plant podcast (can right-click Download > Save As), and Joe Lamp'l's The joe gardener Show podcasts (Download or ▶︎ Play).
  9. 👂︎ Listen to podcasts, view videos, or read articles at EcoBeneficial! with Kim Eierman.   Thanks for the tip, Amy!
  10. 🇨🇦 🇺🇸 In Canada and USA, for recom­men­dations on which species to plant, please see the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's special collections.
  11. Read Rain Garden 101, Iowa Rain Garden Design and Installation Manual, including size and cost,  Adobe Acrobat Reader file (page 8) and rain garden (rainscaping)[?] and prairie site selection, design, 🚧 construction, and management.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file
  12. Read about Plant Hardiness Zones vs. Ecoregions and many other articles from Habitat Network/Yardmap/Cornell Lab of Ornithology.   Then go find your Plant Hardiness Zone PHZ.
  13. Questions to ask — a Natural Areas Site Analysis Guide.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file
  14. Learn more buttons at bottom of this page.

To learn about sustainable landscaping

image from Growing A Greener World video Sustainable Landscape Design, select to view video

  1. See the video above or to left, on sustainable landscape design, from Growing A Greener World.

    For full effect, select the video image, then icons ▶︎ Play,  full­screen,  captions and ⏯︎ ⊠ Skip Ads.

To plan native landscaping in North America

First, your jurisdiction may have rules about what kind of tree you may plant:

Second, you may want to see your site's pre-settlement vegetation cover:


For example, we found that our favorite site is Oak Opening, but near W Oak/Hickory.

Write down your results for use later, in steps 5 and 6.

If the interactive map was too easy, and you want to do it old-school (I can also see old aerial photography from 1938 in my county GIS!), you can instead:

 (A) See the gorgeous 🗺 Vegetation circa 1800 maps from Michigan Natural Features Inventory MNFI  Adobe Acrobat Reader file > Choose a county=yourCounty > zoom in and pan.  Awesome.

 (B) But to find your particular site on the map, you probably need to know your site's:
     ◦  county,
     ◦  township,
       section number , and
       where your site is within your county, township and section.
    You can get these from:
       your property description;
       your tax rolls;
       Bureau of Land Mgmt BLM > application Land Catalog > zoom in and pan;  or
       your county's GIS ( Kent Co > turn on Layer=PLSS Sections) ( Montcalm Co > Parcel Viewer) ( Ottawa Co ).
    For example, we found that our favorite site is in section 32, near the middle E-W, but 90% up N-S.

 (C) Go back to the MNFI map in (A), and read off your site's natural community.
    For example, that puts our pre-settlement vegetation right on the edge of two colors.  From the Legend, these two colors seem to map to mixed-oak savanna or pine barren;  and oak-hickory forest or beech-sugar maple forest.  (In the 1800s, for every person added to the US population, three or more acres [1.2 or more hectares] of forest were cleared for agriculture. [6] )
    Write down your results for use later, in steps 5 and 6.
       If you cannot tell which exact colors are yours, ask your favorite graphic artist or webmaster to use a "color-picker" tool on the areas near your site, and on possible values in the Legend.
        For example, doing this, we found that our favorite site is on the edge of mixed-oak savanna and oak-hickory forest.
        Write down your results for use later, in steps 5 and 6.

Third, you may want to see your site's current land use:

  • 🇺🇸 In USA, USGS land cover 🗺 maps > yourState > your county > zoom in and pan, and adjust opacity slider.
  • In Michigan, you can 🔑︎ key out your local natural community.   Scroll down to see information on its soils, vegetation (rare and otherwise), animals (rare and otherwise), and more.
  • For example, doing this, we found that our favorite site's current use is Developed & Other Human Use, right next to Forest & Woodland.  (In the 1800s, for every person added to the US population, three or more acres [1.2 or more hectares] of forest were cleared for agriculture. [6] )  That describes pretty well our site, which backs up to a forest.

Write down your results for use later, in steps 5 and 6.

Fourth, if you haven't found anything actionable above:


Write down your results for use later, in steps 5 and 6.

Fifth, investigate which plants are associated with the natural communities above:


For example, using the examples above, mixed-oak savanna and oak-hickory forest.

Sixth, you can investigate your soil type:

  • Stick a shovel in your soil and feel it!
        It is dark and rich, with organic matter?  Sandy?  Clay?
         📱︎ Soil texture calculator:  percentage of sand, clay and silt.
        Is it dry?  Does it hold water?
        When your hand squishes a handful of soil into a ball, does it stick together?
    Not sure what to do with these answers, other than search out some friends who know what these mean!
  • 🇺🇸 In USA, you can use NRCS' Web Soil Survey (WSS).
        Following the instructions on the page, and poking around quite a bit, I found that our favorite location is type 81C:  Urban land-Spinks complex, 8 to 15 percent slopes.
        Selecting that link, I found out a lot about that type of soil.  Hmmm.

Now we know!

When:

  • shopping for 🌱︎☙🌳︎ seeds/​plants/​shrubs/​trees, and
  • deciding when to plant them,

it is good to know your:


Notice how the zones vaguely follow 🌐︎ lines of latitude — lines of constant distance from the equator or pole.

For example, doing this using the 2012 map, we found that our favorite site's Plant Hardiness Zone PHZ is 6a, but right on the edge of 5b, so down to -23 °C (-10 °F).  However, using the 2023 map, we found that our site was moved to solidly in 6a, so down to -22 °C (-8 °F).  Either seems about right — we probably get down to that temperate or close to it, for a week or two, most winters.

If you buy a seed/​plant/​shrub/​tree labelled with a zone higher than your own, it may die in your next normal  winter.  ☑ Check your seed/​plant/​shrub/​tree's tag or package!

🇺🇸 If you live in USA-48, you can get this information, together with typical growing times, in these nice Vegetable Planting Schedules > yourState.

🇨🇦 🇺🇸 If you live in southern or maritime Canada, or high-elevation Hawai'i or southern Alaska, you can see the same Vegetable Planting Schedules > Plant Hardiness Zones PHZ of 3–9.

✋︎ On the other hand, limitations of Plant Hardiness Zones PHZ.

Kim Eierman of EcoBeneficial! suggests that to help 🐝︎ pollinators find your plants, you should plant pollinator-attracting plants in a block of at least 1 sq m (10 sq ft).  Such as a square of at least 1 m × 1 m (3 ft × 3 ft).  Or a circle of diameter 1⅛ m (3¾ ft).  Or …

I think this is so pollinators can easily spot a whole bunch of flowers, and then visit the group quickly, all in one chunk.  Instead of having to find the same number of flowers splattered all over a field.

Of course, if you have a large field in which you plant a few blocks like this, you can either let them spread out over the years (infilling any areas in-between), or you can mow edges around them periodically (so they don't spread).

To help 🐝︎ pollinators, 🌳︎🐝︎ Trees for Bees recommends planting native bigleaf maple  Acer macrophyllum, northern or hardy catalpa  Catalpa speciosa, eastern redbud  Cercis canadensis, flowering dogwood  Cornus florida, 🌷︎ American tulip tree  Liriodendron tulipifera, southern crabapple  Malus angustifolia, staghorn sumac  Rhus typhina and ◼︎ black willow  Salix nigra.

The Pollinator Partnership offers recom­men­dations for Selecting Plants for 🐝︎ Pollinators.

The Xerces Society and 🇺🇸 NRCS offer recom­men­dations for Farming for Pollinators.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file

Author Heather Holm offers lists of native plants to support native 🐝︎ bees, wasps and other pollinators, for various regions and soil types.

🇺🇸 In the USA, Audubon's recom­men­dations of 🐦︎ bird-friendly butterfly-friendly native plants > your ZIP Code (no email needed) > button Search.

Michigan Native Plants for 🐦︎ Bird-Friendly Landscapes.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file

Bloom dates for native herbaceous perennial beneficial-insect-attracting plants (Michigan)  Adobe Acrobat Reader file (page 58) bloom dates by month (Missouri)  Adobe Acrobat Reader file bloom dates by plant name (Missouri)  Adobe Acrobat Reader file bloom dates and other growing characteristics (Maine).

🇨🇦 🇺🇸 🇲🇽 In North America east or south of the 🏔 Rocky Mountains, native examples of small trees forming the "middle story" of the woodland plant community include American hornbeam or 💪︎ musclewood  Carpinus caroliniana, dogwood  genus Cornus, American witch-hazel  Hamamelis virginiana and American hophornbeam or 🛠 ironwood  Ostrya virginiana.

In Michigan, MSU Native Plants > links Teaching Tools, Regional Plant Lists, Plant Selection, etc.

Kelly D. Norris recommends ░ American smoketree  Cotinus obovatus.

For the small yard, or in regions near Pennsylvania, please see Native Plants for the Small Yard:  Easy, Beautiful Home Gardens that Support Local Ecology  Adobe Acrobat Reader file (page 4) (about).

"The Right Native Plants in the Right Landscape Means Fewer Allergies."  Wild Ones Journal.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file (pages 1, 20, 21 and 23)  (🔒︎ Wild Ones members only)

References

[6]  MacCleery, Doug.  "A Brief History of Virginia's Forests."  Lecture, George Mason University GMU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute OLLI, Fairfax, VA.  .  Presentation accessed .

To buy or trade native plants or seeds

Sources of information, plants and seeds:

If you can find a nursery that:

  • knows which species you can buy singly, and
  • knows which species you need to plant multiples (because some species have individuals that have all-male flowers or all-female flowers, and thus you need at least one plant of each gender to make fruit and seeds);
and thus:

  • knows the words monoecious and dioecious, and
  • will sex your plants for you (i.e., determine which plants are which gender);
that is the nursery from which you should buy all your plants.  — Kim Eierman of EcoBeneficial!


While selecting your plants and seeds, this author recommends you:

For example, if ◼︎ 🍁︎ red maple  Acer rubrum is native to your region:

Radio/podcast interview with Doug Tallamy "How effective are nativars?"  A Way to Garden.com.  . or its 🔊︎ audio

"Wild Ones Statement on the Use of Nativars" revised (printable).  Adobe Acrobat Reader file
"Nativars (Native Cultivars):  What We Know & Recommend" by Becca Rodomsky-Bish.  Habitat Network.  .   Accessed .

"Guidelines for Selecting Native Plants:  The Importance of Local Ecotype."  Wild Ones Journal.  Adobe Acrobat Reader file (page 3)  (🔒︎ Wild Ones members only)

When:

  • shopping for 🌱︎☙🌳︎ seeds/​plants/​shrubs/​trees, and
  • deciding when to plant them,

it is good to know your:


Notice how the zones vaguely follow 🌐︎ lines of latitude — lines of constant distance from the equator or pole.

For example, doing this using the 2012 map, we found that our favorite site's Plant Hardiness Zone PHZ is 6a, but right on the edge of 5b, so down to -23 °C (-10 °F).  However, using the 2023 map, we found that our site was moved to solidly in 6a, so down to -22 °C (-8 °F).  Either seems about right — we probably get down to that temperate or close to it, for a week or two, most winters.

If you buy a seed/​plant/​shrub/​tree labelled with a zone higher than your own, it may die in your next normal  winter.  ☑ Check your seed/​plant/​shrub/​tree's tag or package!

🇺🇸 If you live in USA-48, you can get this information, together with typical growing times, in these nice Vegetable Planting Schedules > yourState.

🇨🇦 🇺🇸 If you live in southern or maritime Canada, or high-elevation Hawai'i or southern Alaska, you can see the same Vegetable Planting Schedules > Plant Hardiness Zones PHZ 3–9.

✋︎ On the other hand, limitations of Plant Hardiness Zones PHZ.

Keystone Plants for your Ecoregion Sources for butterfly/moth host plants for your ecoregion or ZIP Code.

This author recommends you get plants and seeds that are not treated with neonic neonicotinoid insecticides:  imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam.  I read that it could be months before your plants are visited by pollinators, or can provide food for your 🐦︎ local birds.  Seeds harvested from these next-generation plants are probably OK.  Unless your seeds are of a variety that requires these insecticides to do well.  (Remedy:  Use an organic seed company like High Mowing Organic Seeds.   Although going with this vendor may negate choosing a local genotype.)

When you buy,check the tag:

  • No ' ' single-quotes, nor or ® trademark.  And depending on details, containing subsp. or var. .
  • Not treated with neonic neonicotinoid insecticides.
  • Not seed-sterile.
  • Has a Plant Hardiness Zone PHZ equal to or lower than for your site.

References

[7]  Ryan Pankau, Horticulture Educator, Illinois Extension, at group presentation "Natives vs. Nativars — Do Cultivars of Native Flora Support Native Fauna?" attended by EP.   Accessed .

[8]  "Picking Plants for Pollinators:  The Cultivar Conundrum."  Xerces Society.  .   Accessed .

[9]  Based on the above blog, this is now being studied by Nativars Research Project, by budburst, a project of botanic gardens in Chicago, Denver and San Diego.   To observe 🐝︎ pollinators, they are seeking help from interested citizens scientists across the 🇺🇸 USA.

[10]  "What makes those Proven Winners plants so special?"  VillageSoup.  .   Accessed .

To buy or trade native plants or seeds in Michigan near Kent County and Grand Rapids

Year-round:  Growers in the Native Plant Guild NPG.

🌱︎⚘ Native plant sales of which we are aware (these dates change frequently — please 📅︎ verify dates with applicable organization!):

Learn more about sustainable landscaping and gardening with native plants

plant and native gardening terminology

🔍︎ 🔍︎ images Discover Life Flora of North America USFS Wikipedia