Residents Encouraged to Plant Natives to Reap Long-Term Benefits
While the St. Charles Park District does their part in restoring the native habitats across 415 plus acres of natural areas, residents also can play a role in helping native species thrive in their own backyard. To aid in this effort, the Park District is holding its first Native Plant Sale now through Sunday, May 5.
Residents can order online at www.stcnature.org/native-plant-sale .Ten percent of the proceeds will support the district’s efforts to restore and maintain its natural areas.
Native plants, which have adapted to the soil and climate of the area, are vital in supporting a diverse population of native species including insects, butterflies, birds and other wildlife. But if nonnative plants take over a particular area, the native species and its ecosystem will not survive. This is why Assistant Superintendent of Outdoor Education Chris Gingrich encourages residents to think beyond ornamental flowers this spring.
“Flower beds are pretty but because they aren’t native, there is less to support the insect population and less to support the native birds that feed off those insects and so on,” Gingrich said.
He said using native plants, on the other hand, will attract an abundance of other native species including a significant bird population, allowing them to thrive in their natural environment.
Gingrich noted the plight of the monarch butterfly, which has prompted more residents to incorporate milkweed into their gardens to help with their survival. Another plant that is gaining interest is wild bergamot, which has been identified as an important plant to support the endangered rusty patched bumblebee.
The Native Plant Sale will include more than 200 species of plants, grasses, shrubs, trees and more available through Natural Communities Native Plants’ online catalog. The size and variety of plants is personal preference, but some popular and colorful options include wild columbine, cardinal flower and blazing stars.
While native plants may be a little more work up front, once they are established, they need less watering, chemical treatment and maintenance than nonnative plants, Gingrich explained.
For inspiration on how to incorporate native plants into a backyard landscape, the Park District has two native plant demonstration gardens, one featuring shade species at Pottawatomie Community Center, and the other with sun exposure species at Hickory Knolls. A native plant brochure is also available at both locations highlighting the seasonal varieties.
To order, visit www.stcnature.org/native-plant-sale. Orders will be picked up Saturday, June 1, at the Sportsplex, 1400 Foundry St. in St. Charles.
For more information, contact Chris Gingrich at 630-513-4367.