Practicalities

Where to buy Virginia natives

A list of wholesalers is included on our master spreadsheet for professionals.

(We are happy to add to the list if anyone is missing - email plantnovanatives@gmail.com.)

Planting plans

Numerous examples of planting plans can be found under “Quick Start Guide.”

New Video Series

for professionals

#1 Landscaping with natives

in commercial spaces

A few notes about planting native plants

Planting - When planting in soil that has been supporting other landscaping plants, no soil amendments are needed for locally native plants. If you are planting in construction site clay, add organic material.

Groundcover spacing – plant densely for faster and more thorough coverage.

Mulching – Do not allow mulch to touch the base of trees or other plants. The recent fad of creating a “mulch volcano” damages the bark and can kill trees.

eastern columbine_ creeping phlox_ woodl

Clean-up: Dead leaves and stems are good for the soil and provide shelter for beneficial insects and other wildlife. Leave them in place when possible.
Supplements:

  • No insecticides: Since one of the main reasons to plant native plants is to support the insects that are the basis of the ecosystem, using insecticides will defeat the purpose.

  • No fertilizers: Fertilizers are unnecessary and may cause native plants to become overgrown. Fertilizers will damage ferns.

  • Watering: If you give the plants the conditions they need, you only need to water until the plant is established. In some cases this may mean only watering two or three times at the beginning. Do not overwater.
     

Maintenance schedule: We recommend you give your customers a written management plan. Please see the sample schedule at the bottom of the maintenance page for details.

Care of native plants

Management of naturalized landscapes - starts at 4:43.

A note about cultivars

Cultivar names are included in our lists for professionals not as a recommendation but to make it easier to recognize plant names. The organizers of the Plant NOVA Natives campaign recognize that cultivars are what make possible the large scale propagation of many plants. Our hope is that by incorporating enough locally native plants into your offerings, you as professionals in the industry will demonstrate their aesthetic and practical value, popularizing the home habitat movement and reversing the decline of birds, bees, and butterflies in Northern Virginia.

 

In time, as residents gain a better understanding of the role their yards play in saving the environment, they are likely to find more room on their properties for the straight species, thus maximizing the ecological benefits.

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For your information, cultivars that differ from the straight species primarily because of their size will probably support wildlife just as well. Cultivars that differ in other ways may or may not be as useful to wildlife. Mount Cuba has measured how well some cultivars attract pollinators for a few species. For example, the ‘Jeana’ species of Phlox paniculata performed very well in the pollinator category and was also the most resistant to downy mildew. But it is known that altering the shape and color of flowers may prevent their co-dependent native bees from being able to access the nectar and pollen. Changing the leaf color (and thus their chemistry) to red or purple may affects a plant’s ability to serve as a larval host plant for butterflies or to feed the numerous other insect orders that depend on them. Variegation of leaf color does not seem to cause problems.

Seed grown plants create genetic diversity when they reproduce. Genetic diversity creates resilience and is key to the survival of species under stress from environmental changes or reductions in habitat area. Stresses can also occur in gardens, of course, for example from diseases that can run wild through monocultures.

Virginia Native Plant Society statement on cultivars - March 17, 2021

The Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) encourages communities and individuals to incorporate native plants into managed landscapes and, when doing so, to maximize the use of wild-type plants. Such an approach provides the most reliable way to support the flora and fauna with which these plant species have coevolved over millennia, to maintain genetic diversity and to minimize the risks inherent in introducing plants to an ecosystem. This is particularly important in ecological restoration projects, mass plantings in parks and on private grounds and in any landscaping in proximity to natural areas.

VNPS recognizes that wild-type plants may be difficult to find in the marketplace, and that cultivars and hybrids of native plant species can offer distinctive characteristics which increase their effectiveness in landscape design. However, due to documented cases where the introduction of cultivated plants has negatively impacted natural populations, and because the ecological implications of such plants have not yet been adequately evaluated, we recommend avoiding hybrids and using cultivars only in locations distant from natural areas (e.g., urban gardens) and to exercise caution in the selection of plants that vary significantly from the wild type (e.g., in flower structure, flower color, fruit size and leaf color).

VNPS encourages the horticulture industry to provide more wild-type plants and to clearly label cultivars to assist the public in distinguishing between the two.