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Plants- Native or Non-native, That Depends

Updated on September 20, 2011

Your Choice

Put the right plant in the right place is great advice and makes an excellent guideline when you are planning your garden. There is another consideration that works along side RPRP. This one is simple; all you need to do is answer this question, what type of garden do you want?

Are you a plant hobbyist and looking to grow every type of daylily that exists? Or are orchids your thing? The RPRP rule still applies but these types of very specific gardens differ much from the gardener who is more of a small scale hobby farmer and is seeking to turn the yard into a food production system. Here RPRP applies as well.

A third and there are far more than three gardening types, is the native plant gardener who is seeking to reestablish plant species that were once native to the region where the gardener lives but maybe slowly or not so slowly vanishing.

Regardless of what type of gardener you are as long as you garden without introducing any artificial chemical agents into the ecosystem then enjoy your passion.

Gardening is a passionate activity and one of the debates that rages in gardening circles is over the use of non-native plants. A non-native plant is a plant that did not originally come from the area where it is now growing; perhaps the best known example of this is purple loosestrife.

Purple loosestrife is a beautiful but aggressive invader and it, most likely, first arrived in eastern North America in the early 1800s. Plants were brought to North America by settlers for their flower gardens.

It is also possible that the purple loosestrife seeds were present in the ballast holds of European ships that used soil to weigh down the vessels for stability on the ocean. Since it was introduced, purple loosestrife has spread westward and can be found across much of Canada and the United States.

If you are gardening as a means to supplement your family’s food supply or to beat the high cost of food, the issue of yield is important to you. The Jerusalem artichoke also known as the sunchoke is native to the eastern United States from main west to North Dakota and south to northern Florida and Texas.

The tuber of the sunchoke can be used like potatoes and the choke is a prolific breeder so yield is not the problem controlling the plant’s spread is. It may be best to grow sunchokes in large containers in order to keep them from taking over your garden.

As someone who is gardening or plans to begin gardening, the very first step is to ask yourself, why? What are my goals? What do I want to achieve with my garden.

You may be looking for a hobby, a way to spend a few hours a week enjoying being outside and growing something beautiful to look at and enjoy. You may want to invite butterflies and birds to set up home in your garden or you may want to grow food, ideally, if you design it properly and consider RPRP then you can achieve all three; the choice is yours and therein lies gardening’s beauty.

purple loosestrife

courstey- flick/cambodiaforkids
courstey- flick/cambodiaforkids

using native plants


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