Why Native Plants?
Five reasons to choose native plants for your space.
Of course, we are biased, but native plants are the best! We've put together 5 great reasons why you should consider purchasing native plants for your garden, landscape, or other projects:
- Give wildlife a wing up
- Get natural pest control for your garden
- Preserve the unique diversity of the region
- They need our help
- Wild plants need to stay wild
1. Give Wildlife a Wing up
Native plants create a biodiverse and healthy ecosystem that ultimately supports wildlife (and people) for the long term.
Over thousands of years, native plants and animals of southern Vancouver Island have evolved to live in a symbiotic way. Native plants offer nutritional diversity and a myriad of other benefits to wildlife such as breeding habitat, food, and nesting resources. Meanwhile, insect’s familiarity with native plants encourages them to transport pollen grains from one plant to another which insures resilience for future populations.
Non-native plants may offer alternatives to wildlife, but this does not necessarily mean they are the best alternatives. One could infer that the birds need English Hawthorn berried, that Himalayan Blackberry flowers are essential for bee health, or that non-native plants are required for nitrogen fixation. But it is important that a thoughtful and holistic approach to conservation is taken that does not confuse the beneficial attributes of non-native plants as substitutes to a diverse suite of native flora. In fact, the vast majority of species in the Garry Oak savannah ecosystem does not benefit from increased nitrogen, ultimately resulting in biodiversity loss on a larger scale.
With a loss in diversity, ecosystems become simplified and homogenized, thus reducing available resources over the course of a season. Native plants provide all of the essential ecosystem services without the risks posed by non-native plants. Devastating habitat loss and lost species diversity in habitats where non-native plants become over-abundant is not worth it.
Studies suggest that it’s best to avoid pesticide-treated plants. Herbicides, pesticides (including neonicotinoids), and chemical fertilizers are NOT used at Satinflower nurseries. We strive to produce healthy and genetically diverse plants that best suit the needs of our pollinators. Satinflower Nurseries has worked with Pollinator Partnership Canada to develop a planting guide for our region. Adding native plants to existing garden spaces or going as far as to turn your yard into a wildflower meadow (our specialty!) are excellent ways to attract and protect pollinators.
Check out: https://islandpollinatorinitiative.ca/
2. Get Natural Pest Control for your Garden
The image above features Cow Parsnip (Heracleum maximum).
From unwanted insects to the persistent deer, native plants can also provide excellent natural pest control for your yard and garden.
Abundant deer, in combination with habitat loss, has certainly become a challenge for many residents on Southern Vancouver Island and surrounding areas. There are some native species that are not highly desired by deer or are vigorous enough to withstand some grazing so no need to give up your garden or lose hope on a restoration project! A thoughtful planting of deer-resistant plants can provide colourful blooms all season long.
- Entire-leaved Gumweed
- Hairy Gumweed
- Nodding Onion
- Pearly Everlasting
- Cow Parsnip
- Sea Blush
- Pacific Bleeding Heart
- Woolly Sunflower
- Coastal Sage
- Death Camas
- Mountain Sneezeweed
- Few-flowered Shootingstar
- Broad-leaved Shootingstar
- Douglas’ Aster
- Canada Goldenrod
- And an incredible array of native Sedges, rushes, and grasses are all deer resistant
3. Preserve the Unique Diversity of the Region
We are surrounded by a splendour of native plants rich in beauty and diverse function, deserving of protection and celebration. Like Amazonian jungles or the Galapagos Islands, we have species on Southern Vancouver Island that are unique to the area and in combinations unlike anywhere else in the world. The plants and animals here define this place and they are distinctive from anywhere else in the world. Our nursery celebrates our unique natural heritage and we encourage you to join us!
Places like Hawaii have seen devastating losses to their biodiversity as well as rampant extinctions from people bringing plants and animals from other parts of the world. The only way to prevent the same fate is to protect what we already have. If we are not the ones to protect and celebrate these species, who is?
4. They need our help
Habitat loss, including invasive species and degradation due to development, has greatly reduced the number of native plants in our region.
Planting native species helps to enhance habitat value by restoring plant diversity and abundance, forming corridors and connectivity between habitats, and by attracting and supporting wildlife that has co-evolved with native plant species.
5. Wild plants need to stay in the wild
Purchasing nursery-grown native plants means you can increase populations of native plants as well as resources for wildlife without the risks associated with harvesting from natural areas.
In almost all circumstances native plants should not be removed from natural areas and planted elsewhere. Exceptions to this rule include Indigenous People who have inherent harvesting and land rights* as well as people who are part of a legitimate salvaging program where native plants are being removed from sites that would otherwise be destroyed (eg. Saanich Salvage Program)
Transplanted plants are not necessarily successful when outplanted and most areas where plants are removed from leave disturbances that will ultimately be colonized by non-native plants. Specialized knowledge of local ecosystems is necessary to truly comprehend impacts you may have while removing a plant from a natural area.
Habitat loss has left species and entire ecosystems in a precarious situation. It is best to avoid putting additional pressure on ecosystems by removing plants for personal use, contributing to ever more declines in plant populations and resources for wildlife. Removing plants and plant material also reduces harvesting capacity for Indigenous Peoples, who have already suffered ever depleting resources and obstacles to their inherent land rights. Guidelines for ethical collection such as 20% rules do not apply in an area like ours where so much habitat has already been lost and species numbers have declined. The 20% was lost long ago! At Satinflower Nurseries, all of our seeds and plants are nursery-grown. We do not go back to natural populations and take from them continually. We do however supplement our native seed rows from natural populations periodically to keep the seed bank “fresh” and genetics diverse.
Victoria, Saanich, Metchosin and surrounding areas are traditional unceded territory (the land was not surrendered). If you see harvesting activities taking place by an Indigenous person show your respect by giving privacy and space. It can be invasive and even scary for the harvester to have a non-Indigenous person ask questions, take pictures, stare, or act aggressively (e.g. threaten to call police, tell people they don’t have right etc). Indigenous People have a right to collect and remove plant material from all areas within their territories, including parks.