Native plants not only look good in landscapes, but can help birds and other insects complete their life cycles.
"If they don't have a place to pollinate or lay their eggs, well, we may not have that species anymore," said Dr. Lynn Moseley, a retired professor of biology from Guilford College. She is actively involved with the National Audubon Society and promotes the use of native plants in public spaces and home gardens. "Over 3/4 of our crops are pollinated by bees, beetles, flies, moths and butterflies. If they don't have a place for them, we're in trouble."
Moseley, who recently spoke at the Women's Resource Center in Alamance County's Working Women's Wednesday event, said that a number of the plants being sold at this weekend's 21st annual Herb Festival will feature native plants. The event will be from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 508 Davis St., Burlington.
"The Women's Resource Center has purchased a number of native plants that you can feel good about planting," she said. "The Purple Coneflower not only provides nectar for butterflies, but the plant goes to seed in the fall and gold finches feed on the seeds. They can be planted in a mass grouping and bloom from the middle of spring through fall."
Butterfly milkweed, Moseley said, is a "beautiful, bright orange flower that Monarch butterflies are completely dependent on."
If you want songbirds in your yard, well, "a great majority of land birds and all songbirds, with a few exceptions, feed on caterpillars."
"It takes 5,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to raise one nest of chicks," she said. "If we want birds, we have to have caterpillars and to have them, these native plants help."
Another tip, when it comes to planting herbs, is that parsley and fennel attract black swallowtail butterflies.
The Cardinal Flower, a tubular-shaped plant with bright red flowers, and Coral Honeysuckle (a climbing vine, not the Japanese invasive species) attract hummingbirds, butterflies to their flowers and songbirds to their berries.
One of the best things about native plants is that "they've adapted to their local conditions and don't need pesticides or fertilizer," Moseley said. "They're really the ideal plants for our area."
Moseley isn't saying to pull up your other flowering plants, such as azaleas, but "if you have room in your garden for flowering plants that are native to this area, you should consider in investing in them."