Working with Native Plants

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Planting or re-planting a garden space can feel like a daunting task. We’re here to help, and the good new is that going with nature, planting plants that have grown in the region for centuries, will make make the task easier and less maintenance heavy!

Identify Conditions – native plants at the nursery are often labeled with the conditions they prefer, and if not, it’s quite easy to look it up with a quick web search.

  • How much sun/shade does your garden get and does it change during the year?
  • Is the spot dry, damp, or wet?
  • How much time can you spend tending to it?

PRO TIP: Plant large batches of the same plant rather than small patches of many varieties.

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More than 2,000 plants are native to the New York City area, including grasses, flowering plants, shrubs, and trees. Native plants are likely to do well since they are used to local conditions. After they are established, they will require less watering than typical nursery choices because they are used to surviving on local rainfall. They can also provide critical food and habitat for native species birds, butterflies, and other pollinators that are struggling for survival.

Fun classroom activity for Science or Social Studies: If your school is in Manhattan, you can look up the flora and fauna that occupied your block 400 years ago when Henry Hudson arrived on the island using the map created through the Welikia Project. If you’re not in Manhattan, there are still many resources at the library and on the web for digging into your own region’s ecological history.

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