For the third day of NISAW, we'll look at gardening with native plants.
The underlying reason to remove invasive species is to save and improve our natural areas; our lands and waters, everything relies on for life. Research shows that approximately 85% of the woody invasives we see in our natural areas (parks, forests, preserves, etc.) come from our landscaped areas. So, what a wonderful chore (removing invasives and planting natives), if you will, we have before us. And what a difference we make when we engage in this chore. When working in areas that still retain some semblance of their natural state, often, when we remove the invasive species, the native plants reestablish themselves. However, highly disturbed urban areas often require a little more assistance from us as native soils with a native seed bank are gone.
The connection between our native plants and wildlife is just plain cool. Did you know that about 15 moths and 30 birds use Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)? Whoa! What a sweet relationship our native plants have with wildlife.
There are a couple of great programs in Indiana to encourage each of us to delve into the “chore”. The Indiana Native Plant Society has a program called Grow Indiana Natives. Information is available here: https://growindiananatives.org/ . I encourage you to check out the certification program for your landscape and spread the word about it. Just how many yards and landscaped areas will take on this challenge and have a sign in 2019? Another program is the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program. The link to its website is: https://www.nwf.org/CertifiedWildlifeHabitat and you can check out Indiana specific information here: https://www.indianawildlife.org/. These are just two of many programs that can help make our landscapes part of our natural areas instead of a haven for invasive species. They represent two local ones that promote action. And let’s face it, we need action.
If you want to smile and learn the important role native plants play in pollinator health check out this list from Purdue here: https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publicati…/POL-6/POL-6.pdf. This list gives a peek to the connection between native plants and wildlife (insects, bees, beetles, birds, etc.).
And if you want to create a fun online map check out Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s yard map program here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/put-yourself-on-the-map/.
I can’t think of a better way to show we recognize our responsibility to the health of our lands, waters and wildlife than to remove invasive species and incorporate native plants in our landscapes. And I can’t help but wonder if Indiana citizens and businesses can register more areas than any other state? Are we up for some serious action or what?