Confessions of a Native Plant Addict

Hi, my name is _______, and I am a native plant addict. I admit that I am powerless over planting – that my shopping had become unmanageable. Like so many before me, all it took was one plant to start me down this road. The orange-flowered Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) that I bought years ago and that shortly afterwards was covered with fritillary butterflies is still going strong and has been joined by literally hundreds of companions, blooming in succession and supporting the whole spectrum of life throughout the year.

Why is this a problem, you may ask? For the birds and the frogs that rely on native species, there is no problem. But I had fallen so much in love with each plant that I could not bear to remove a single one. Controlled beauty slipped into riotous exuberance as a few enthusiastic plants took over a couple of the beds. What would the neighbors think?

Luckily, I was pulled back from the brink by learning some simple techniques that allow any garden to fit into its neighborhood. Basic design principles, such as clustering plants in masses, confining plants that self-seed to certain areas, and edging gardens with a frame (for example by placing a row of Butterfly Weed in front of taller flowers), are all it took to get a grip. Together, these techniques are called “Cues to Care” that signal human intention and are pleasing to the suburban or urban eye. Click here to find them on the Plant NOVA Natives website, but watch out: this addiction is contagious!

Fritillary butterflies on Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

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