By Jason Giovannettone, Climate and Sustainability Director
As we enter the month of May, I hope that you have enjoyed your time outdoors, including gardening. One important aspect of gardening that I have learned is to add native plants to my yard.
There are many benefits to incorporating native plants. Because they are accustomed to the local climate and the potential predators that may feed on them, native plants are generally easier to grow and tend to be more resistant to our deer, rabbits, and other wildlife. Even better, they are beneficial to a host of wildlife, especially birds. Many native trees, shrubs, and flowers will support a large number of caterpillars. In fact, native plants support about 35 times as many caterpillars as non-native plants on average. Did you know that an adult chickadee bird needs to catch approximately 100 to 150 caterpillars to feed a single baby bird? As such, these birds search for places where they can find enough caterpillars. Planting native plants is a great way to fulfill this need and attract many birds to your yard. Native trees that are especially good at supporting caterpillars include oak, cherry, willow, birch, and poplar. Other types of caterpillar-friendly native plants are goldenrods and asters. Additional information on this topic can be found in the following video.
Plant a native tree or shrub on your property or request that whoever is responsible for the grounds of your facility do so. Local nurseries typically have sections devoted to native plants. Also, some states may have a coupon you can use to support native plants (e.g., Maryland –https://dnr.maryland.gov/forests/Pages/MarylandersPlantTrees/Print-Your-Coupon.aspx).