The Value of Native Plants

Alabama Croton (Croton alabamensis var. alabamensis)
- Photo Credit: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Flowering Dogwood
- Photo Credit: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Mountain Witchalder
- Photo Credit: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Wild Columbine
- Photo Credit: Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Coastal Sweetpepper Bush
American Beauty Berry
- Photo Credit: Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Native plants are a savvy choice for enriching your yard or business landscape.  There are hundreds of hardy and eye-catching varieties to choose from. Native plants – be they fruit trees or colorful wildflowers – are well-adapted to the local climate and have natural defenses to ward off our region’s pests and diseases.  When you choose native plants, you’ll spend less money and time watering and battling pests.

What’s more, native plants attract wildlife more than exotic plants from faraway regions.  By attracting native insects, native plants entice hungry birds to forage in your garden. Native wildflowers also lure hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators to keep your gardens buzzing and fluttering with activity. Thus, native plant gardens are more than a collection of plants – they are mini-ecosystems supporting local biodiversity and offering daily opportunities for wonder and entertainment.

It is difficult to find nurseries selling native plants, but the spring and fall plant sales at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens typically offer over 150 different varieties of native plants. Expert gardeners are on-hand to coach you on planting and caring for your plants as they make the transition to your garden. Proceeds from the sales benefit The Garden’s education programs.

The Gardens also offers a variety of workshops on how to garden with native plants, create sustainable landscapes, and attract native wildlife. Many of these workshops are free.  Those eager for a more intensive exploration should consider the Certificate in Native Plant Studies program.

And finally, if you need further inspiration on how to arrange native plants in your garden, explore the Kaul Wildflower Garden and the Barber Alabama Woodlands where beautifully-arranged and tended native plants are the main attraction.

– Scot Duncan