Meet a Native Plant Influencer

May 29, 2023
Steve Culver

A story by Steve Culver. This article is also featured in the June 2, 2023, issue of The Ripple.

Click here to learn more and subscribe to this monthly e-newsletter!

Prior to completing the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist (OCVN) program in the spring of 2021, I was unaware of the important role of native plants. In fact, you could even say that I was ignorant to the extent that, over the years, I had planted and nurtured non-native plants throughout my home’s landscape.

Learning about new topics and gaining information is a powerful thing. Thanks to OCVN, I became more aware that the balance of nature, the food chain, and humankind to some extent, depends on plants, and more importantly, native plants. At the least, our interest in our own existence should compel us to consider planting native!

Gardening is actually easier with native versus non-native plants. When you think about it, it only makes sense that native plants are much more tolerant to their native environment’s extreme conditions, where they have adapted and thrived for thousands of years. In addition, they support wildlife, pollinators, and provide natural beauty. Did you know that some pollinators rely exclusively on native plants for their existence?

This new awareness led me to think how I could make a difference by making slight shifts in my yard and landscaping. I thought, why not begin planting local wildflowers and shrubs? So that is what my wife and I did. When we had a few trees taken out and their stumps ground down, we debated on either planting grass seed or planting wildflowers. We opted for the native wildflowers. Two years ago, we began planting native plants in small areas in our yard and now we have five areas we refer to as “wild spots”.

I realized that with the simple decisions we were making, we would attract more pollinators such as birds, bees, and butterflies. I imagined how wonderful it would be if some of my neighbors would be interested in doing the same, and we could create multiple native plant “oasis” for birds and pollinators to travel to.

To my delight, I found like-minded neighbors, some of whom were already intentionally growing native wildflowers and plants! I created a shared Google Drive with helpful information and articles on the importance of native plants along with growing tips.

I’m in the process of growing wildflowers from seed—some that I’ve collected and some that I received free through donations from the Cincinnati Nature Center, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and other sources. I hope to utilize some starter plants this year in my wild spots and share some with my neighbors.

The question is, can one person make a difference? History has proven time and time again that the answer is “yes”. You don’t need to make dramatic changes to your landscape or have an “untamed” looking yard. Use your creativity with even a small area! An even greater positive impact on our environment can be made by encouraging others to do the same.

I encourage you to:

  • Learn about the importance of native plants and plant them appropriately.
  • Share your knowledge, learn from others and volunteer at the Nature Center and with other organizations that support native plants.
  • Consider registering for free with the National Wildlife Federation for a Certified Wildlife Habitat Certificate.
  • Click here to send me an email if you would like a shared link to the Google Drive I mentioned.