The Importance of Native Plants- Staff Training

Having an area exclusively dedicated to native plants in your garden center with educational signs and interesting facts increases sales and awareness. 

We make this easy with our American Beauties Display Program; check the link for details. 

Training your staff about the importance of native plants and trees will inspire them to educate their customers. Here are some ways you can communicate the effect these vital plants have on our ecosystem. 

Plants Harness the Energy of the Sun

Out of all the species living on our planet, the plant kingdom is the only one that literally consumes the energy from the sun and turns it into fuel. This fuel, in the form of plant tissue, is digested by all the other living species, including animals, insects, and humans. 

We rely on plants to convert this energy into the consumable fuel that makes up the foundation of our environments and ecosystems.

Insects Play a Huge Role in the Food Chain

It is estimated that approximately 37% of the animal kingdom are insects, which mainly feed on plant tissues. This link in the food chain further converts the sun's energy from plant tissue into insect tissue that becomes food for wildlife. Through our consumption of plants and animals, this fuel ultimately reaches humans, as well!

Native plants are specific to the regions in which they grow. Over time, both the plants and the insects of that region have adapted symbiotically to depend on each other.

 

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Wildlife Depend on Native Plant and Insect Species for their Survival

North America is home to approximately 2059 bird species. Of these, about 96% of terrestrial birds depend on insects to feed their young. Without these insects, baby birds would not be able to survive. Think about how important this is when we build home developments and commercial shopping areas. 

When we mow down areas where Native Plants grew and replace them with concrete, buildings, and imported plants, we destroy the ecosystem that other living species once called home. 

The Effect of Imported Plants on Regional Ecosystems

In studies that observed how many insects a single plant could possibly host, imported species simply can't contribute much when planted in their non-native environment. Insects that have adapted for centuries to the regional native plants find these foreigner plants unpalatable. 

Doug Tallamy explains in his book, Bringing Nature Home, how a native blueberry plant can host upwards of 285 native species of butterflies and moths. An imported plant, like a Flowering Quince, was recorded to only play host to about 6! In its native homeland, the imported plant can do a better job of supporting the local insect populations there. 

In our constant development of housing and commercial areas, acres of natural land are being scraped away. Our urban landscapes replace native grasses, shrubs, and trees with ornamental plants and lawns that give very little back to the local ecosystem. 

How Homeowners Can Be More 'Eco' in their Own Yards

Encourage customers to add a few native plants to their gardens. Sharing the benefits of how choosing to include some native plants creates vital biodiversity for the wildlife that live in the area. Once educated, they can gain an understanding of how even just a few native plants in each yard can dramatically improve the ecosystem in an entire neighborhood.

 Source: Doug Tallamy