Why Native Plants?
Native plants are beautiful and come in a kaleidoscope of colors and a variety of sizes and shapes to fit any yard, garden, patio or window box.
Native plants provide essential food and shelter for local birds, pollinators and other wildlife to survive and thrive.
Native plants are healthier for you and the environment. Once established, they require little or no fertilizer and no harmful chemicals, they don’t need mowing and they use far less water than lawns and ornamental plants
Beware of Invasives and Imposters
What’s the difference between a butterfly weed and a butterfly bush?
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a native milkweed with brilliant orange flowers that is one of the best nectar sources for numerous pollinators and a host plant for the Monarch butterfly.
Butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is a shrub with purple or white flowers native to China and is an invasive species in Maryland and many other states. No American butterfly caterpillars can use it as a host plant food source. Yes, some adult butterflies will sip its nectar, but the nectar has little nutritional value— akin to humans eating candy.
Invasives are plants that are not native to a specific region. They often are garden escapees that can out-compete and displace native plants. Because they did not develop in the local eco-system, invasive plants have no nutritional value and can create food deserts for most native birds and insects.
A single pair of breeding chickadees needs to find 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to raise one clutch of young. A native white oak tree is host to 557 different species of butterflies and moths. The non-native ginkgo tree supports just five.
Dr. Douglas W. Tallamy, entomologist and wildlife ecologist, is revolutionizing how we garden.
Why Native Plants
Winter Sowing Native Plants
All the Dirt on Winter Sowing Native Plants - Join Charles County Master Gardeners Molly Moore and Marlene Smith in this recorded presentation of their live workshop held on January 7, 2023, at our extension office in Bel Alton. They cover the “what and why” of native plants, share their 10 simple steps to winter sowing, and share their personal experiences with native plant gardens.
You can also view and download the PowerPoint Presentation.
How to Choose Native Plants
Native Plant Publications
Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center
Native Plants of North America
Ecoregional Revegetation Application (ERA) - ERA Exhaustive native plant database with downloadable spreadsheet that includes growth rate, propagation, pollination value, pollinators (Southern Maryland is Region 65, Southeastern plains)
The Biota of North America Program - Bionap's North American Plant Atlas includes Maps by States and Provinces, an excellent resource to guide you in regard to what species is a true native. One of the hardest things these days is keeping up with the genus name changes of plants. DNA research is resulting to correction of many genus designations.
BONAP's Taxonomic Data Center - Bionap's North American Plant Atlas includes maps by states and provinces, an excellent resource to guide you in regard to what species is a true native. One of the hardest things these days is keeping up with the genus name changes of plants. DNA research is resulting to correction of many genus designations.
Audubon Native Plants Database
Native Plants & Seed Sources
Chesapeake Natives, Inc.: Promoting, Protecting and Propagating Plants Native to the Chesapeake Region - Non-profit that sells only Maryland native plants.
Roundstone Native Seed - Provider near our eco-region that has native plant seed
Environmental Concerns Nursery
Bad Plants Planted by Good People
Maryland Invasive Plants Prevention and Control
USDA Forest Service: Plants & Animals
Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland
USDA National Invasive Species Information Center
Global Invasive Species Database
CABI Invasive Species Compendium
Images of Invasive and Exotic Species