Native to Your Landscape

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Using native plants in your landscape can be a great way to ‘be green.’  Indigenous plants are adapted to the climate and precipitation of the region where they are found, so they are naturally hardy.  Native plants benefit from pollination and seed dispersal from local wildlife and provide food in return.  As our communities become more urban, it is especially important to maintain natural resources for birds and other wildlife.  Native plants have also adapted to deal with insects and diseases found in the environment and, if a plant is locally grown, the risk of bringing in invasive weeds and diseases from other areas is greatly reduced.

That being said, not just any native plant will work in your garden design.  A plant has certain soil, nutrient, water and light requirements and should be planted in conditions similar to its natural habitat.  It is important to remember that all plants require a bit of care in a landscape setting.  Proper soil conditions, weeding, watering during establishment, and removing dead material are important maintenance tasks to keep plants healthy and attractive.

Gardeners should remember not to harvest plants from parks and national forests.  Nurseries that specialize in native plants and preservation groups such as the Wintergreen Nature Foundation and the Virginia Native plant Society hold annual plant sales with plants that are either divided from existing garden plants or grown from seed.  It is important to question where the plants sold at a nursery actually originate, especially if the plants are intended as part of a restoration project.

Itea 'Little Henry'           Itea%20Little%20Henry%20Fall
        Blooming Itea Virginica                                Fall color Itea Virginica

Try a Virginia native shrub like Itea virginica (pictured above), commonly known as Virginia Sweetspire, in your garden.  You won’t be disappointed.

Itea virginica Stats:
Habitat: sun or shade
Form: upright
Size: 4′-6′ tall x 4′-6′ wide
Blooms: fragrant, 4″ long, white
Bloom time: early mid-summer
Fall color: brilliant scarlet red


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