Learn About Native Plants

Native plants are nature’s birdfeeders; providing seeds and the insects these plants lure as fly-thru protein snacks.  Native plants are also nature’s butterfly feeders.  And insect feeders.  These wildflowers have been providing food for wildlife here for thousands of years.  Our wildlife have adapted to these American plants.  They now need them for food.

Non-native plants, by contrast, do not fit in to the web of life as a food source.  The worst culprit in our area is buckthorn.  It releases a chemical (emodin) into the soil which runs off into wetlands and kills amphibian (think frogs) embryos.  It also leafs out early in spring and stays leafed longer into the fall, robbing native plants of their needed sunlight.  The food producing native plants then disappear from under the buckthorn, taking their forest flowers with them.  Buckthorn also harms birds that eat the buckthorn berry by causing diarrhea when these avians should be storing energy ahead of their migrations.  See: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-scientific-reveal-midwestern-frogs-decline.html

Planting the right plants lets you fill a shopping cart of food for nature.  Many of these right plants are also pleasingly beautiful.  Your yard can become an island habitat providing this food as a refuge in a sea of mowed lawns.

Nature is something you can build, enjoy and share when you Join Wild Ones!

Watch Dr. Doug Tallamy’s recorded webinars to learn more about the extreme importance of native plants to our ecosystem and our well being. Dr. Tallamy is a highly respected entomologist at the University of Delaware and a co-founder of Homegrown National Park. His talks are very informative, motivational and a must-see!

Wild Ones Presents “Nature’s Best Hope” by Dr. Doug Tallamy
Wild Ones Presents “The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees” by Dr. Doug Tallamy

Here is a link to Dr. Tallamy’s Hub which includes many other recorded videos, articles, podcasts and books by Dr. Doug Tallamy.

Now that you know about the importance of native plants how do you get started in your own yard? Here are some online resources:
West Cook Wild Ones: How to Get Started with a Native Garden
Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Rain Garden Requirements and Plant Lists
The Conservation Foundation: A “How-To” Natural Landscaping Guide
The Conservation Foundation: Build Your Own Rain Garden Guide
WIDNR Publication: Rain Gardens, How to Manual for Homeowners
Illinois Department of Natural Resources: How to Plant and Maintain Native Plants

Here are some recorded webinars on getting started with and landscaping with native plants:
Greater Kane County Wild Ones and Gail Borden Public Library: Getting Started with Native Gardening
Greater Kane County Wild Ones and Gail Borden Public Library: Growing Native Plants
Greater Kane County Wild Ones and Gail Borden Public Library: Landscaping with Native Plants
Greater Kane County Wild Ones and Gail Borden Public Library: Prairie Gardens
The Conservation Foundation: Designing a Native Garden
The Conservation Foundation: Landscaping Design Ideas for Your Native Plant Garden
The Conservation Foundation: Landscaping in the Sun
The Conservation Foundation: Creating a Butterfly Garden
Greater Kane County Wild Ones and the Gail Borden Public Library: Rainwater in Your Yard: What Should You Know
West Cook Wild Ones and the Interfaith Green Network: Native Gardens Through the Seasons: A Virtual Walk

Here is a great book:
The Gardener’s Guide to Prairie Plants by Neil Diboll and Hilary Cox