Spring has almost returned, and we’re looking forward to warmer weather and more time enjoyed outdoors! As our local foliage begins to reawaken after the cold and dark of winter, we’re taking a look at what it is that’s sprouting around us and showing a little love to local plant species. Here are some native Virginia plants we love to see that you can add to your garden or yard!
What Benefits Do Native Plants Bring To The Environment?
Native plants provide food and habitat for local animals and insect life, including vital local pollinators! By sustaining local wildlife, the ecosystem remains balanced, with native plants both supporting the populations of certain native species as well as keeping the populations of others in check. It’s also less of an ecological burden to keep native species in your yard, since they have specifically adapted to our local soil and climate and therefore require less water or fertilizer. Plus, many native plants are simply gorgeous when added to landscaping!
Per the Plant Virginia Natives organization, each region of Virginia has its own unique list of native plants to try. For those of us in Southeastern Virginia/Hampton Roads, there is a large variety of gorgeous plants to consider for your home.
Some attractive flowers to add to your garden include Eastern Red Columbine, butterfly weed, swamp rose-mallow, and Virginia Blue Flag. Like ferns? Cinnamon fern and royal fern are attractive options to consider. Want to add a vine to your yard design? Try trumpet creeper, crossvine, or Carolina Jessamine, which each produce their own beautiful, unique blooms.
Perhaps you’re looking for something with more height. Did you know witch hazel is a native shrub? Plant this small tree in your yard and you can make your own astringent with just the bark and some water! You can also consider wild hydrangea, mountain laurel or wild azalea for shrub options.
If you want to plant trees, there are several oaks you can consider, from the slow-growing white oak (used to build ships hundreds of years ago) to the quickly-climbing scarlet oak tree. If you want a tree with a beautiful bloom, try a tuliptree or sweetbay magnolia. You might be surprised to know that you can also grow bald cypress (usually associated with our local swamps) in your yard – no standing water required!
Native Food Producers
The list of native plants isn’t limited to ornamentals – there are quite a few native fruits and veggies you can add to your garden! For berries, you can plant black huckleberries, early lowbush blueberries, common elderberries, or black haw berries. You can add native fruit trees like the black cherry, common pawpaw, or common persimmon to your orchard. For other useful plants, American hazelnuts and New Jersey tea shrubs can make a great addition to your yard (and to your pantry!).
And of course, make sure to support your local nurseries by buying your native seeds or seedlings from their shelves – they may also have tips on how to grow them. Happy spring!