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.
Care of native plants
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.
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.
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.
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.