What's Stopping You From Planting Native

May 4, 2017
What's Stopping You From Planting Native

Spring has arrived! The smell of mulch fills the air on these warm spring Saturdays. Garden center parking lots are filling up with cars loaded with flats of Begonias, Geraniums, and Pansies. As I watched wagon loads of plants being loaded into cars, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of native plants being purchased. With all the talk and information about pollinators these days, I wondered why it was that people don’t purchase native plants for their landscape beds.

As an ecologist, I am paid to know about the importance of pollinators in our ecosystem. I am paid to know why invasive plants are bad, why native plants are good, why I should plant them in my landscaping, and what plants to plant where. I am also however, a lazy and cheap homeowner. I want my yard to look as nice as possible with the least amount of time and energy spent. This is why I personally plant native perennial plants in my yard.

But this isn’t about why I do something in my yard. This isn’t another story explaining the benefits of using native plants or a “plant this not that” story. This is about helping me understand. I want to know why. Sure, I understand why we have vegetable gardens. I have one too...and I cannot wait until tomato season. I want to know why we plant annuals every year. Why do we plant the same plant in the same spot year after year? Why do we purchase non-native perennial forbs? Why do we purchase ornamental grasses instead of native grasses?

This isn’t a knock on the nursery trade or on those who have a beautiful landscape full of ornamental plants. The purpose of this is to help me understand. I am asking why you pick the plants you pick for your yard. How do you make your decisions on what to purchase every year? I believe there is a disconnect between the average homeowner and those of us who scream “PLANT NATIVE” every chance we get. This is an attempt to learn – to understand the desires and the needs of homeowners. Tell me why you plant ornamentals…or why you plant natives. Let’s open up the discussion. Please respond to this post and let us know your thoughts or email me at

If you want to learn more about native plants or see them in a manicured garden, visit us at Cincinnati Nature Center. While you are here, you can purchase native plants from our plant sale in front of the Rowe Visitor Center.