Updated: Dec 17, 2020
If you have a yard, or even just have a porch where you can keep potted plants, you can create habitat for wildlife. Choosing native plants is very important. “Native plants should be defined as those that have evolved and adapted to a specific location and have remained genetically unaltered by humans.” (Andy Wasowski in The American Gardener, 1998). Only native plants can support the diverse insect life that is required for a functioning ecosystem.
Plants have defense mechanisms to prevent insects from eating them. Over time, the insects that coevolved with the plants have developed ways to get around these defense mechanisms. This relationship allows the native, beneficial insects to utilize the food source of the native trees and plants. There may be some evidence of leaf damage, but the plant is rarely harmed. In this way, the native tree can provide a healthy and diverse food source in the form of caterpillars and other insects for songbirds and other wild animals.
Many yards have an abundance of lawn and exotic plants, creating a sterile landscape for wildlife. But we can fix this and make our properties more beautiful while at the same time, supporting an entire wild community. This doesn't have to happen all at once. Pick a spot and start there. Make a plan to remove an area of grass and plant some native perennials that support pollinators, or start with some native oaks, maples or willow seedlings that will grow up to feed lots of caterpillars.
Check out our gardening journal and see how we are preparing for spring planting!
Detailed instructions to help you create the perfect pollinator garden can be downloaded below:
Some great ideas to help plan your native garden:
Find native plants for your area:
Native plants for Western New York: