Since native plants have evolved to the soils, weather, and predators found in the ecosystem where they developed, they are the easiest and most beneficial to include in your garden.
Simply put, native plants are those growing in the same ecosystem in which they developed. Therefore, what is considered a native plant will change based on where you are on the planet. Non-native plants are those that have been moved by humans, intentionally or unintentionally, to another region.
- Developed and adapted to conditions within the local ecosystem.
- Fits into the food web, providing a wide range of benefits to local wildlife.
- Will not degrade local ecosystems when they escape from cultivation.
- Some are sold in nurseries with little to no breeding, referred to as wildtypes.
- Some have been selectively bred for specific traits, especially color.
- Introduced at some point in the past by humans.
- May have a few connections within a food web, but generally lacking when compared to native plants.
- May or may not be adapted to local conditions.
- Can degrade local ecosystems with aggressive growth patterns, out-competing and disrupting the native ecosystem when they escape to natural areas.
The Dirty Dozen
Non-native invasive plants are a big problem for our natural areas and state parks, such as Phil Hardberger Park, Friedrick Wilderness Park and Government Canyon State Natural Area. Check out our “Dirty Dozen” list and see what substitutes you can use to get the same look in your garden.
Did You Know?
Bexar County sits on the convergence of four ecosystems; The Edwards Plateau in the north, the Blackland Prairies through the middle, the Post Oak Savannah in the east and the South Texas Plains to the south. Some native species are found in all four ecosystems, but there are also species unique to each!
What defines an ecosystem is a combination of factors including climatic conditions like temperature and precipitation and physical conditions like soil type. These conditions dictate what kinds of plants can grow in a given location; so knowing your soil type is really important to knowing what kinds of plants are actually native to your area.
Deciding what is a native plant and what is not can sometimes be hard. Here’s a tip: Use clues from your environment like soil type and climatic conditions. Using human created boundaries isn’t always the best way to decided what’s native, boundaries created by us seldom follow the natural boundaries of ecosystems.