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FutureStarrAChicago Native Plants
You don’t need a green thumb to have a beautiful garden in Chicago, but it helps if you think “green” and choose plants that are environmentally friendly. Plants that are native to the Windy City take less water, money and time to cultivate. They also attract birds, bees and other pollinators to your yard. Here are 10 native plants and flowers that will thrive in your Chicago garden.
When choosing ornamental plants, it's easy to forget how important native plants are. Native plants are essential to the web of life that includes birds and other wildlife, beneficial insects, and important microorganisms living in native soils. These natural communities evolved together, over a long period of time, into what are often called ecosystems. Ecosystems provide each member of the community with habitat in which live, and food or nutrients on which to survive.And because many native plants are deep-rooted—it's the way they survive drought—they are able to store more carbon from the atmosphere than short-lived plants. As part of photosynthesis, all plants absorb and store carbon. But long-lived and deep-rooted native plants are able to store more for longer periods of time, giving homeowners an easy but important way to help mitigate the effects of global warming.
gardening with native plants. While it’s true that native plants are adapted to our yearly temperature and precipitation regimes, it is an over-generalization to say they are always easier to grow than non-natives. The true secret to low maintenance gardening is matching the plants you are growing to the specific conditions you are growing them in. For example, native Swamp Milkweed requires very little care if sited in full sun with moist soil. Plant it on a sandy slope, and it will require near-daily watering in the summer. The old mantra holds true for all plants, native and non-native: Right plant, right place. It’s worth noting that there is one plant virtually all homeowners grow extensively that is rather poorly suited to our environment – lawn grass. Replacing lawns with properly selected native plants will reduce maintenance, beautify, and benefit local wildlife.A: The environmental benefits of gardening increase substantially when natives are used. This is because local bird and insect species are adapted to make use of native plants for food and shelter. For example, many species of insects rely exclusively on a single native plant species for food. The plants provide food for bugs; bugs are food for songbirds; songbirds are food for hawks, snakes, etc. Simply put, the chain of life in local ecosystems begins with native plants. (Source: naturemuseum.org)