Native plants should be installed in the spring, late summer or fall, avoiding the hot weeks in the peak of summer. Water them well immediately after planting and often thereafter, for at least a few weeks. During this early stage, native plants are working to build the extensive root system they need to access ground water and nutrients from the soil. Care for the young plants is integral for their survival through the first winter. After the first healthy growing season, your native plants will be drought tolerant and disease resistant!
Wildlife in your garden
You will notice insects, small mammals, and birds visiting your plants for food and resources. While this may alarm you at first, remember that native plants provide the food and shelter these animals need for survival. Share your garden with the native animals of your region for the greatest return on your investment. These plants have evolved to tolerate damage from animals. More often than not, your plants will continue to grow happily after they’ve been eaten. Protection for very young native plants may be necessary to help them survive their first year.
In the fall, resist the urge to clear all of debris from your garden. Dead stems, leaf litter, and undisturbed soil provide overwintering homes for many native insects. When you remove the “dead materials” from your garden, you remove a lot of life as well. Leave the leaves!
If you prefer your garden to have a more traditional appearance, you can trim many perennial native plants into a desired shape and size. Fall and early spring are a good time to prune larger plants, such as asters and native shrubs.