|Illinois native Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine)|
- Native plants need less water once established. Because they've grown here for thousands of years, they are well-adapted to our weather patterns. Native plants often have deep, extensive root systems that can obtain water when non-native plants can't. They will still need to be watered well in the first year so that the root system can develop.
- Plant a native plant garden and reduce weekly mowing. Enlarge your garden beds and include native plants, and you'll spend less time mowing and more time enjoying the fruits of your labor.
- Native plant gardens complement vegetable gardens by attracting necessary pollinators. Many of our native bees and butterflies are not adapted to feed from non-native plants. Plant natives near your vegetables to get those pollinators to create more food for you.
- Native plants allow rainwater to soak deeper into the soil. Certain plants are called "clay busters" because they have a strong taproot that will break through tough clay to let rainwater infiltrate and replenish our aquifers.
- Native plants create ecological diversity by attracting the beneficial bugs, birds, butterflies, and wildlife that are so often displaced by development.
- You can find a native plant to solve almost any garden problems ("Nothing will grow in that wet spot!").
- Native plants sequester carbon, keeping it from being released into the atmosphere where it worsens the greenhouse affect.
- The breakdown and rebuilding of the long and plentiful roots of native plants contribute to healthier soil.
- Native plants are sustainable, for all of the reasons above.
Portions of this post are exerpted from a talk by Jim Kleinwachter of the Conservation Foundation of Naperville, IL.