The bountiful native wildflowers, trees and plants of the commonwealth aren’t just visually appealing. These typically low maintenance and pest resistant varieties can offer numerous benefits if planted in a location similar to their optimal natural surroundings.
Milkweed, wild sunflowers and bee balm are all excellent habitat for butterflies and the caterpillars that produce them. Columbine and wild bergamot are known to attract hummingbirds while blackberries, viburums and American plum trees do the same for bobwhite quail. Beyond flowers, the roster of beneficial native plants includes edible mushrooms (morels, chanterelles, black trumpets) and other small trees such as redbuds and dogwoods.
Many Virginia farmers are incorporating natives on working lands through a practice commonly called “farmscaping.” Planting these species into field borders, hedgerows and buffer strips support agricultural production by helping:
- Reduce the need for pesticides by attracting beneficial insects and birds
- Protect farmsteads, crops and livestock from wind and dust
- Keep soil in place, enabling it to become healthier and preventing erosion
- Provide wildlife habitat while reducing associated crop damage
Contact your local USDA Service Center or visit nrcs.usda.gov to learn more about how to put native plants to work for you and beautify your landscape in the process.