published Saturday, February 5th, 2011

5 tips for growing native plants

  • photo
    The Chattanooga area offers diverse flora that varies depending on the habitat. This woodland garden features wild columbine, wild geranium, blue phlox and blue-eyed Mary.
    Photo by Hill Craddock

Horticulturist Paola Zannini is already planning the sale portion of the upcoming Spring Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Botanical Garden. The event will be held April 8-10 at the Riding, 400 Garden Road.

Zannini, who as greenhouse manager oversees the event, said native plants are any that were growing in North America before European settlement.

"Appreciation of our native flora has significantly grown over the past several years, resulting in its inclusion in gardens and formal landscapes," she said. "The advantages are obvious. Native plants, once established, are more adaptable to our gardens, and they contribute to create an ideal habitat for desirable wildlife such as butterflies and birds."

Zannini offers the following tips on growing native plants.


1 Buy nursery-propagated plants. Never buy wild-collected plants, a practice that depletes or destroys natural populations, causing loss of biodiversity.

2 Provide garden habitats that reflect the natural environment from which the plants come.

3 Care for your plants until they are well established and can withstand extreme weather conditions.

4 To avoid lanky plants, don't overfertilize them.

5 Don't deadhead or cut back vegetation until late winter or early spring to provide food and cover for wildlife.

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about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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