Spring Equinox Intention: Plant More Native Plants!

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Spring Equinox Intention: Plant More Native Plants!

The equinox marks the first day of spring, a time for new beginnings and intentions. This spring, we want to encourage you to integrate native plants into your garden planning. Your garden (and local ecosystem) will thank you!

The National Wildlife Federation suggests that to increase biodiversity, gardens should be composed of 50%-70% native plants. There are many reasons why you should include, even prioritize, native plants in your garden. In an age of rapidly declining species biodiversity, particularly for specialist species (those with limited geographical ranges and diets), it is important to think of how your garden can help support and even restore biodiversity. 

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Why should you plant more native plants?


1. They are better suited to local ecosystems

 Native plants are naturally well-suited to their native range and ecosystem. They are adapted to the conditions that most non-native plants suffer in, like drought and heavy rain. Coneflowers, for example, are drought-resistant plants that have long blooming periods which attract many pollinators. Swamp milkweed, as its name suggests, will happily grow in wet soils and will still produce beautiful pink flowers. 

2. They help restore local biodiversity

Many species of animals, birds and insects rely on native plants as sources of food and shelter. Due to increased urbanization and loss of habitat, many species have been displaced. By increasing the concentration of native plants in existing green spaces and gardens, we can help restore some of those relationships and provide a safe haven for species who rely on native plants to thrive. 

3. They support native pollinatorsnative plants article Large

 Native plants have co-evolved with native species of insects, birds, and animals. Some insect species rely solely on one kind of native plant. Monarch butterflies, for example, only lay their eggs on milkweed plants. When the eggs hatch, the plant’s leaves are the only source of food for the caterpillars. 

Up to 60% of North American native bee species are specialists when it comes to pollen, relying on native plants to feed their young. A drastic reduction in native plants has led to native bee populations plummeting. This is troubling, as native bees are much more effective pollinators than non-native honey bees, allowing for more successful pollination and seed-production of native plants. 

Increasing the number of native plants allows for native species of pollinators to be supported in their life cycles, and in turn, more native plants to thrive. 

More benefits of native plants

Native plants do not need to be fertilized, many are edible or have medicinal properties, many can be used for crafts and natural dyes, they are cheaper to maintain in the long run when planted correctly (because they need less resources) and many self-seed, coming back season after season. 

There are so many reasons why you should include native plants in your garden this spring! So why not become an ally to native plants and their ecological communities? 

Happy Gardening!

Gaia College

Some examples of plants native to various regions of Canada

  • Aster
  • Lupine (western Canada)
  • Joe pye weed 
  • Canada Columbine (east of the Rockies in Canada) 
  • Cardinal flower (eastern Canada - Ontario & eastward)
  • Bee balm (eastern Canada - Ontario & eastward)
  • Canada goldenrod
  • White yarrow

To determine which plants are native to your area, you should consult a native plant database or planting guide such as: 

Did you know we have a whole course dedicated to native plant knowledge? It’s called Ecological Plant Knowledge - Natives, and it’s offered this spring!