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Native Plant Website

 Click on the below image to go to our Tennessee native plant website.

What are native plants?

Native plants  are typically defined as those that occurred in North America before European settlement.  Those not native to an area are referred to as exotic plants.   In Tennessee, exotics often come from Asia or Western Europe, regions that have similar climate and environmental conditions to those in this state. Some exotic plants have been intentionally brought to our state as lawn or garden ornamentals or as plants to attract wildlife; others have been accidentally introduced. 

Many exotic species become naturalized, which means they are able to survive, spread, and reproduce on their own. All exotic plants do not become invasive, and most can safely be planted as ornamentals. However, it takes scientists many years or even decades to fully understand an introduced plant’s potential invasiveness. New information is being gathered continually, and you should check with your local nature center, botanical garden, conservation organization, or Cooperative Extension agent about a plant’s invasiveness before introducing it to your property.
 
Exotic plants become invasive when its natural competitors, diseases, and insects that normally control the plant’s growth and dispersal in its native range are non-existent in its current non-native habitat. In a healthy eco-system natural checks and balances develop over thousands of years, which greatly reduce the chance that a single species will increase in number to completely dominate a plant community.  Plants that are moved from their native landscape can find optimal growing conditions without these checks and balances and can become highly invasive posing the greatest risk to native plants and animals.
 

Why are native plants friendly to Tennessee landscapes?

Less Maintenance

Native plants generally grow well and require little care when grown on proper soils under the right environmental conditions. Because they have slowly adapted to the native landscape, they respond well to the environment’s soil and water conditions providing food and shelter to native wildlife. By choosing the right native plants, you will use less pesticides and water which will save you money and protect our resources!

Source of Beauty

Our local flora is spectacular, producing showy flowers, abundant fruits and seeds, and brilliant fall foliage. We live in one of the most bio-diverse regions in the country so there are many native species to choose from that have a wide range of water and sunlight needs and attract many different kinds of native wildlife.

Attracts Wildlife

With habitat disappearing at an alarming rate, you can provide wildlife an oasis of their natural habitat in your yard! The native plants you use can meet the needs, including food and cover, of native wildlife without causing long-term damage to local plant communities. With the right diversity of native plants in your urban landscape, you can provide:
• Protective cover for many animals.
• Seeds, nuts, and fruits for squirrels and other mammals.
• Seeds, fruits, and insects for birds.
• Nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
• Larval host plants for butterfly caterpillars.

Improves Water Quality

Water is one of our most valuable resources, providing life and sustenance to every creature on the planet. In conventional landscaping, pesticides and fertilizers are often inappropriately or over-used.  Overuse of pesticides kills beneficial insects and other wildlife, while overusing fertilizers can result in too many nutrients in our waterways. Less than 10% of all insects are harmful to plants, and too many nutrients deplete oxygen in waterways suffocating fish and other stream wildlife. Native plantings require less to NO pesticides or fertilizer use because they are well adapted to the area’s natural conditions. By eliminating or minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers, these pollutants will not run-off into streams, lakes, and bays. This improves the quality of the water and the aquatic life in it.

Community

As more people use native plants in their urban landscaping, we add to the available habitat for wildlife and benefit the community as a whole. Going native helps save our natural heritage and protects our natural resources for future generations.

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