Why does it matter if my plants are native or not?
Updated: Jan 28, 2022
One of the wonderful parts of gardening is discovering new and exciting varieties, and sharing those varieties with other gardeners. Many of our favourite plants originated from other countries, such as bulbs from Holland or parsley from the Mediterranean, and it's absolutely ok to grow these plants in your home or garden. But when does it become a problem that you should worry about?
Native plants are ones which are known to have originated or occur naturally in this part of the world. They evolved in our soil and alongside our local wildlife, together over thousands of years, forming strong ecological connections. Native plants attract butterflies, bees, and pollinators that are local to our area, and many varieties act as healthy, essential food and nectar sources for local birds and wildlife.
On the other hand, invasive plants are alien species whose introduction or spread negatively impacts native biodiversity. The main issue with invasive species is that they have a tendency to out-compete native species and negatively alter a local environment. This becomes a problem when an invasive plant like Garlic Mustard (from Europe) takes over a meadow or forest floor in Barrie, Ontario, and our own native plants become outnumbered and decline as a result.
Impacts of invasive plants are sometimes irreversible, but gardeners can help by purposefully planting native Ontario varieties in key areas (like Waystations, meadows and forests), to improve ecological conditions for local wildlife. Adding a Waystation to your home is a great way to increase native plant numbers in the community, while also improving curb appeal, and supporting the development of essential pollinators.
Source: Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association