My name is Andy Barkley and I live in Cambridge. I am updating all of my...

Asked May 8, 2020, 1:08 PM EDT

My name is Andy Barkley and I live in Cambridge. I am updating all of my landscaping at my house. I would like to use only natural plants that would be the most beneficial to the Ohio ecosystem. More specifically, I would like it to benefit the native species in Ohio and would like to do my part to help out pollinators (such as honeybees). Can you give me a recommendation of plants that I can/should use to accomplish this goal. I'm actually trying to get my property designated as a "certified wildlife habitat" by the National Wildlife Federation. In order to reach that goal there are several steps that I must take but the biggest obstacle is to not have any invasive species plants. It can only have native plants which will help out the local native species. Ideally I would like to have some beautiful flowers to make the landscape pretty but I am willing to sacrifice beauty to help out the local wildlife. Thank you for your time.

Guernsey County Ohio

1 Response

Hello Andy,
Thanks for using Ask a Master Gardener with your native plant question. The goal of landscaping for our native wildlife is a wonderful endeavor.

You do not need to give up beauty in order to plant native plants. There ia a huge list of native perennials (most call them wildflowers) that can serve as food and reproduction plants for the pollinators and native wildlife.
You should consider the entire landscape from trees down to ground cover plants to develop the best habitat for varying species. Most are provided in what the USDA calls Wetland Indicators. These will range from always wet to always dry and everything in-between.

There are numerous sources to find the local plants. If you search for Ohio Native Plants, you may find several sources with lists that can help you. As you develop your landscape, please know that it will take time to fill your landscape unless you have an unlimited budget. If you start a wildflower area from seed, it will take 3 years to mature, with plants being quicker but more expensive.

Here is a source to look at native plant lists. It is from the State of Ohio and is listed by the soil conditions you might have.
http://ohiodnr.gov/gonative

Other good sources that you might use include the following:

http://www.plantnative.org/rpl-inoh.htm
http://www.ohionativegrowers.org
http://cincinnatizoo.org/horticulture/native-plants/
http://leapbio.github.io/nurseries/

If these sources do not help you with the information you would like, just respond and I can share specifics if needed. Thanks for the question.
Dave