Why You Should Be Planting Native Species.

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The following is a guest post by Nan Fischer, a Certified EcoBroker specializing in green real estate in Taos, NM. Check out her website www.nanfischer.com, and follow her on Twitter for a daily green news feed, www.twitter.com/nan_fischer. Nan writes about green building, solar energy and the environment on her blog, www.desertverde.com.

In 1997, I lived in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, near the Rio Ojo on the way to the mineral springs. (David’s note – Oh how I miss New Mexico!) The soil was very sandy, a stark change from the adobe clay I was used to in Taos, and water ran right through it.

There was a small flower bed under a cottonwood tree off to the side of the house. When I see a flower bed, I have an impulsive need to fill it up. I planted it with the leftover flowers and shrubs from the foundation plantings. When I went to water it, though, I realized that my longest hose only reached just inside the edge. I watered the plants in by hand until they seemed established, then I let nature take its course.

It was a very dry summer, so I turned the hose on that bed a few times to get as much of it wet as I could. The sandy soil was not helpful in keeping things damp! By fall, the pansies and other annuals were crispy, but the hardy native plants had survived. I was moving back to Taos, so I dug those up and took them with me. If anything could have withstood that watering torture (or non-watering torture!), it got a gold star and deserved to come along.

Can you already see why it’s important to plant native species? Only the plants that were used to very little water survived. They did not need more than natural rainfall to get through.

Adaptable species are hardy, too. They may not be native to an area, but they grow and thrive in similar conditions. The sandy soil and climate in Ojo are similar to parts of France and Greece, I was told. Herbs do well in those countries, and mine flourished with very little care in Ojo! I had the most beautiful lavender I’d ever grown! And with little maintenance!

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  1. Great post Nan. I think it’s hard for people to imagine what their landscaping will look like if they go native because people in cities are often far removed from native vegetation. I often wonder what my neighborhood would like if we were forced to stop using drinking water for irrigation.

    Personally, I am a big fan of Brad Lancaster and feel we are on the cusp of a rainwater harvesting and water budget revolution. Any other book suggestions for other regions of the country?

  2. Hi Kimberly,

    Thank you!

    For regional reading, I would contact your state Native Plant Society or your County Extension. Those are good places to start. You can also go to Amazon and search for native plants. There are several good books, some for North America, some for specific regions.

    Good luck!


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