Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region

Why use native plants?

You can choose plants native to your region of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed using our Native Plant Guides.

baptista australis, Photo by Britt SlatteryNative or indigenous plants are those which naturally occur in the region in which they evolved. Along with planting to the existing site conditions, using locally native plants will increase the chances that the plants will thrive at your site. While non-native trees, shrubs and perennials provide water quality benefits as compared to lawn, native species have many additional advantages. Because native plants are adapted to local soils and climate conditions, they generally require less watering and fertilizing than non-natives do. Natives are often more resistant to insects and disease as well, and so are less likely to need pesticides. This is good news for both the environment and the gardener. Best of all, local and migratory wildlife is adapted to using native plant species for food, cover, and rearing young. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems.

Lonicera sempervirens. Photo by Britt SlatteryIf planting for the benefit of wildlife, select the “true” species for each plant, rather than a cultivated variety (cultivar). Culivars are named using the scientific name (Latin genus and species, such as Rudbeckia fulgida) plus a third word in single quotation marks (such as Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’). These varieties have been grown to provide plants with certain physical characteristics, perhaps a different flower color, a more compact shape or size, or different foliage. These are okay for gardening use. However, if you are planning a garden or habitat project to provide food for wildlife, use as many of the true species as possible instead of cultivars. These plants are most suited to use by the native wildlife, and will increase your chances of attracting them.

| Get a list of Native Plants for Landscaping! |

| Where to find Native Plants|


Why BayScape?

Choosing Plants

How To

USFWS Plant List

Finding Natives

Other Web Resources


Online Native Plant Center now available to help you find native Plants of the same type, shape color, size and other desirable plant characteristics for creating attractive and more natural landscapes in your yard.


Last updated: June 28, 2011