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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: May 2010

May
07
2010

Question of the Week: What are the best native plants for this area?

Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.

This week’s question comes from Claudia: “This past winter, a tall Japanese pine on [our bay property] uprooted and fell over in one of the storms. I would like to plant some small trees and bushes [to replace it]. What are the best to plant in this area?” 

It’s a great idea to learn about plants that are native to our area before taking on a new landscaping project. Native plants are acclimated to the climate, soil and pests in our area. This usually means they require little to no fertilizer and pesticides. Native species also provide better habitat for wildlife such as bees, birds and butterflies, encouraging a healthy ecosystem.

An excellent resource to learn about native plants in our area is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s guide to Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This document includes a wealth of information about Chesapeake natives.

You can search by type of plant, including:

  • Ferns
  • Grasses and grasslike plants
  • Herbaceous plants (wildflowers)
  • Herbaceous emergents (for wetlands)
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
  • Vines

Once you choose a type of plant, you can select an individual plant by its scientific name for more information, including height, flowering months, fruiting months, soil and light requirements, what wildlife it attracts and other details. For example, switchgrass grows 3-6 feet in clay, loam or sand, and has flowers July through October. It provides food for sparrows and is effective at controlling erosion. All of this information is vital to successful planning and maintaining your native landscape. 

You can also search plants that have special purposes, including plants that are good for:

  • Coastal dunes
  • Saltwater or brackish water marshes
  • Freshwater wetlands
  • Bogs or bog gardens
  • Dry meadows
  • Wet meadows
  • Forest or woodlands
  • Slopes
  • Evergreens
  • Groundcover
  • Spring and fall color
  • Deer resistant plants

This section is helpful if you are trying to reproduce the natural habitats that plants are used to and to prevent excessive runoff and erosion.

Once you have determined what plants you want to plant, check out one of the following websites to find nurseries that sell native plants:

Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week! You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram! Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events!



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