MADISON, Wis. — In a battle for resources, native plants and animals are often left out. Which is why choosing native plants near homes can help out local ecosystems.
“When we incorporate native plants we're providing wildlife habitat basically,” said Amy Staffen, conservation biologist with the WDNR.
Native plants are constantly competing for resources against invasive ones. If they survive, they can help native wildlife too.
“There are so many wonderful wildflowers that can help pollinators in general,” Staffen said.
Things like elderberries or cherry trees can help out struggling bird populations.
“All kinds of trees with fruits can help birds find food in winter and habitat in other times of the year,” Staffen said.
Some native plants are tied to the survival of a specific species. Like milkweed and monarch butterflies. Experts at UW-Madison say people planting milkweed in midwest have helped monarch populations survive.
“Basically right now we have thousands of people that are working to preserve monarch habitat, and i really think that without these efforts monarchs would be a lot worse off,” said Karen Oberhauser, director of the UW-Madison Arboretum.
Staffen said if someone want to plant native plants in the spring, they should start making those plans now.
“It is important to get your orders in for your plants as soon as possible,” Staffen said.
Particularly for people planting live plants that need time in a greenhouse or pot before putting them in the soil outside, but even for seeds garners may want to act quick.
“Gardening has been very popular during the pandemic and so these nurseries are selling out quickly,” Staffen said.
Learning which plants will work with soil and sun access in a yard or balcony could take time.
As invasive species out-compete native ones and more and more habitat is eaten up by urban sprawl, even a couple of flowers or bushes can go a long way.
“Even adding a few native plants to your home landscape in the city can reap benefits for native wildlife,” Staffen said.