Native Plants for Southeast Virginia Booklet

Native Plants U.S. Fish and Wildlife PDF

Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy

The Living Landscape by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy

Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping by Barbara W. Ellis

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

What are native plants?

Native plants are plants that have grown in our area for thousands of years.  Local insects evolved alongside native plants over this time period and developed a diet comprised solely on these plants.  Therefore, native plants are the foundation for our local ecosystems as small mammals, birds, and reptiles largely eat insects.

A native plant garden brings butterflies, dragonflies, lightening bugs and song birds.  Even the smallest garden will be sure to provide you with daily wonder at the new and beautiful creatures you will find.

There are also many practical benefits to native plants:

  • Local native plants are used to our temperature and rainfall fluctuations and therefore do not need pampering.  After the first year, they are often established well enough to no longer need watering.
  • You do not need to fertilize native plants if you mulch with leaves or pine straw.  Leaves break down and return nutrients to the soil.
  • You often do not need to use pesticides.  Native plants draw beneficial bugs that prey on the pests.  Native plant gardens create ecosystems that keep all creatures in check.  And do not fear:  Insects that feed on the local plants will never eat enough to hurt the plant.
  • Native plant roots penetrate deeper into the soil than non-native plants.  This means they help aerate the soil, creates a channel for rain water to seep back into the ground, and helps native plants to survive periods of drought.  Native plant roots also absorb chemicals or unwanted materials before they have a chance to enter our waterways.