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The Power of Native Plants

A garden with a variety of native plantings

As the snow melts and the days get longer, many Cook County residents are planning their home and community gardens. Whether looking for colorful flowers, stately shrubs or dynamic grasses, gardeners should consider native plants! There are numerous benefits of using native plants for both people and nature. 

Native plants provide habitat for native pollinators, birds and other wildlife 

Not only do native flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees attract more colorful birds and butterflies, they provide better sources of food and shelter for these and other animals. And did you know that some species of wildlife are dependent on specific species of native plants? Adult monarch butterflies feed on the nectar of many flowers, but they lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed in our area. 

Native plants are more sustainable 

Local native plants have evolved over millennia to survive and thrive in the conditions common to the ecosystems found in northeast Cook County. They require less watering, and do not require fertilizers to flourish. Native plants typically have deeper root systems, which can help prevent stormwater run-off and soil erosion while cleaning the water before it hits waterways. Additionally, native plants absorb and sequester carbon dioxide, helping to clean the air we breathe. 

Native plants provide depth and dimension to gardens 

Native plantings can provide an array of color, texture and dimension to any garden. From wildflowers to shrubs to grasses, there is a vast array of beautiful native plants that gardeners can integrate into home or community landscapes to create a peaceful and relaxing outdoor space.  

Interested in learning more? 

Check out offerings for Conservation@Home, a program to encourage “Forest Preserves friendly” gardens across Cook County! Throughout the year, join us for free programs ranging from how to map your garden’s landscape design to learning how to integrate garden elements that benefit resident birds throughout the seasons. You can even have your garden evaluated for Conservation@Home certification. Visit our Conservation@Home Page to learn more. 

Purchase Native Plants

Planning your home or community garden? Consider integrating native plants! You can order native plants from our Native Plant Sale, in partnership with Wild Ones West Cook, March 15 through May 18. Plant pick up is June 8-10 at 2199 N 1st Ave in Maywood, or June 9-10 at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center.