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COLUMN: Resolve to plant native this year

Rosanne LoParco
Sentinel columnist
Posted 1/8/23

Happy new year, gardeners! It’s time to make those new year resolutions.

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COLUMN: Resolve to plant native this year


Happy new year, gardeners! It’s time to make those new year resolutions. Gardeners have many opportunities to make their resolutions come true because we are always trying to make our gardens better.

Why not start with a resolution to go native this year? Consider these advantages of using native plants. Native wildlife and beneficial insects prefer natives to common horticultural plant cultivars. Once established, natives need minimal water other than normal rainfall. Natives are low maintenance, require little to no fertilizer, and less pruning. Natives are not invasive and they preserve the area’s biodiversity. With climate trends and weather’s unpredictability, having a garden that is sustainable is becoming more important.

So, what is a native plant? Native plants are those that occur naturally in a particular region or ecosystem without human intervention. Native plants provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds and other animals.

It’s obviously too early to garden but it’s never too early to start planning. This is the perfect time to do your own research regarding native plants. As you build on your existing garden, consider and embrace native plants as the best choice for sustainability.

There is the perception that native species are wild-looking or don’t fit home landscapes. That is not true. To get some ideas of the great native species out there, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) website at The DEC also has a list of native plants, grasses, trees and shrubs that grow well in New York State; visit to review and download that list. Bring it with you when you visit your favorite garden center this spring.

Resolve to educate yourself on native plants. Never take native plants from the wild; it’s not only a threat and disruption to the natural ecosystem, there’s also the possibility that you take an invasive species with you.

Speaking of invasives, you may already have a plant in your landscape that has spread too much or maybe you accidentally planted something that is on the invasive plant list. The NYSDEC provides a current list of those plants that are invasive in New York; the NYS Prohibited and Regulated Invasive Plant List is found at There’s also a great brochure that gives suggestions on native plant replacements for use in the landscape as alternatives. The brochure is called Plant Wise New York; visit

There are other places to start researching native plants. Consider the Native Plant Trust, a plant conservation organization; visit Join a native plant organization such as Wild Ones; this organization promotes environmentally friendly, sound landscaping to preserve biodiversity through the use of native plants. There’s even a local New York chapter of Wild Ones serving Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties; join us! For more information visit for more information.

Many of our local plant nurseries understand the value of native plants and you’ll find many selections right here in central New York.

If your favorite nursery doesn’t stock native plants, ask them to. Resolve to add one native plant to your landscape this year; you won’t be disappointed! Happy sustainable gardening!



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