Those of us living in the southeastern United States hear the refrain every year: fall is for planting. Truer words were never uttered. In our hot, humid, often droughty summers, plants do well to survive at all. Spring planting of new trees, shrubs, and perennials is a huge gamble, even if you water during droughts. Spring-planted plants just don’t have big enough root systems to withstand all that our summers often throw at them.
However, as the cooler, usually wetter weather of autumn arrives, new plants can focus on root growth while soils are still warm but not desert dry. Native deciduous trees, shrubs, and perennials do especially well at establishing themselves when fall-planted, because they can devote all their energy to root growth after leaf fall.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better selection of native trees, shrubs, and perennials than you will find at the NC Botanical Garden’s annual Fall Plant Sale. Members get first crack at the goodies on Friday, Sept. 14 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. — and a 10% discount! If you’re not a member, you can join that evening and use your discount immediately. The public gets their chance at the plants the next day, Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Bring your own flats or boxes to use to carry your purchases home.
Why go native? If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ve read my reasons more than once. To summarize:
- Native plants are adapted to our region, so they are better able to withstand our droughts, wet spells, heat waves, and occasional ice storms.
- Native plants are food sources for native wildlife. As urbanization continues to eradicate our region’s native forests and fields, planted natives in home landscapes, parks, etc. help to keep our native wildlife alive.
- Native wildflowers especially are key to maintaining our native pollinators. Now that honeybees (not native) are under attack by diseases and other issues, native pollinators are becoming increasingly critical to farmers who need their crops pollinated. Nobody eats if the food crops don’t get pollinated.
- Native plants in our landscapes remind us of where we are, affirming our sense of place. Certain trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and ferns evolved here; they belong here, as do the insects, reptiles, mammals, and birds that evolved along with their native food sources.
We are all in this together, whether we realize it or not. Going native is your easiest gardening choice, and it’s your wisest. This fall, please consider adding some native plants to your landscape.
And if you live anywhere near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, plan to visit the NC Botanical Garden’s Fall Plant Sale. All proceeds support this wonderful public garden, so every purchase is a win for all who love the natives of this region.