What should I plant?

This is the most frequently asked question I get asked as I travel around the country speaking at conferences and giving workshops about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife.

But the answer to this question is not as simple as you may think. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. But instead this answer depends on many factors, chief of which is where do you live? The best plants for your wildlife garden will be native to your local area.

What works in my Pennsylvania wildlife garden will most certainly not be a good fit in your Arizona wildlife garden.

Other factors to consider when choosing the best native plants for your wildlife garden:

  • How much sun does your garden get throughout the day?
  • What’s your soil like?
  • How much moisture does your garden get?
  • Where are the part-sun spots?
  • What spots are in full shade?
  • Where are the wet areas in your garden?
  • Which areas dry out more quickly?
  • Do you want to attract a specific butterfly?
  • Do you want to support native bees?
  • Would you like to see more birds in your wildlife garden?

Plants are expensive, so you don’t want to throw away your money without knowing the answers to all of these questions so that you can put the right plant in the right place with the knowledge that it will thrive there. You’ve got to do a bit of homework and make a plan for the native plants that will work best given the conditions in your garden and that are locally native to your region.

The absolute best way to begin to discover which native plants will work best in your wildlife garden is to connect with your local native plant society as well as nearby native plant nurseries.

These folks are passionate about native plants and love to share their knowledge with anyone who asks. Since their gardens are probably close by, they can give you the best answers about what will work best in your garden.

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