Resolutions for 2017 - Native Plants

by - December 30, 2016

This year I'm trying something a little different for making a New Year's resolution. I don't want to have just one semi-ambiguous goal of bettering myself. I want to have a set of attainable, clearly defined goals to better the world around me. These should be a mix of fun, challenging, and maybe even uncomfortable goals.

The first goal involves native plants.

"Biologists and other scientists consider invasion by exotic plants to be one of the most serious problems facing native plant and wildlife populations in the United States. For example, multiflora rose, bicolor lespedeza, Japanese honeysuckle, and autumn olive are examples of exotic plants introduced into North Carolina— all for the purpose of promoting “wildlife habitat.” However, each introduction has proven detrimental to North Carolina’s native plants, pushing them out of their traditional habitats; and recent research indicates that many invasive exotic plants may be harmful to local wildlife as well." - NCCES, read more

I'm not going to convert our entire yard into a native haven yet (there are so many quirky, delicious and beautiful plants to grow); however, I do want to learn more about natives to foster an appreciation for them and use them where I can. This will involve reading and exploring nurseries that don't just grow easy landscaping plants for the masses. A long-standing goal is to continue to develop the bird and insect habitat in our yard, which certainly means incorporating native plants. We already have many natives, and I've found myself gravitating towards plants I see in parks and along trails -- ferns, coneflowers, black-eyed Susan.  We've just planted Nova and York elderberries, and I assume the birds will be profiting far more than we will, as they do from the blackberries. 

For 2017, my resolution is to grow an North Carolina endangered or threatened native plant species in our garden. I've been browsing the North Carolina Native Plant Society's plant lists, trying to narrow the list down to Piedmont, non-wet conditions, and thought this plant would be a noble choice:

 North Carolina Native Plant Society
Picture from North Carolina Native Plant Society - Helianthus schweinitzii

It turns out that I can't find where to purchase seeds! It is so endangered that all the seeds collected from the few populations are being stored for conservation and propagation efforts. So it's not available to the common gardener. Thus it is back to the drawing board for now. I did say I wanted a challenge. I welcome your suggestions for my Zone 7b, Piedmont, mostly well-draining garden.

You can also receive "Wildflower of the Year" seeds if you want to help out with conservation efforts.

Other websites of interest for North Carolina gardeners:

Fish and Wildlife Services

NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division - Plant Protection Section


NCSU, interactive database 

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