The Role of Native Plants in a Backyard Habitat: Hop Tree (Ptelea Trifoliate) and the Giant Swallowtail



Ptelea Trifoliate, photo by Shannon Mach

As my butterfly garden continues to expand, so does my vision to provide larval host plants, preferably native, to support a wide-array of butterflies and moths. Just a few years back  I knew very little about the importance of native plants, shrubs, and trees. Over time this changed and my plans grew; and in the process I created Serendipity (Facebook group). As a group, we promote learning about native plants and we inspire others to plant gardens. We recognize that wildlife is losing natural habitat at an alarming rate. Many species of moths, butterflies, and bees face the very real risk of extinction. With this in mind, Serendipity encourages others to share their space with the pollinators and to create backyard habitats. Big or small every garden matters; and mixing in native plants is especially beneficial.

Why are native plants, trees, and shrubs so important?

 Natives play a significant role in turning a typical garden into a diverse and thriving backyard habitat; an ecosystem filled with fascinating diversity. Native plants are those that occur naturally in your region; they are the ones that co-evolved with the local bees, butterflies, birds, and insects. Think of it like this: When you include natives in your garden you are providing a living support system; a home for innumerable unique creatures who need a place to eat. You are setting the table for native bees, butterflies and moths. A backyard habitat with native plants is a busy place. Caterpillars will be munching on leaves, bees will be buzzing, and feathered friends will set up shop in your backyard. Birds will build nests, raise families – and feed their young on the many insects provided by your garden. Before you know it, you will have created an amazing space complete with a natural system of checks and balances.   

Terri Sims

Giant Swallowtail, photo by Terri Sims

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