Monday, April 15, 2013

Growing Native in My Flower Beds

Welcome to the April edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Going Green cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about going green and environmentally friendly living. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

I have always enjoyed growing a flower garden. My first flower bed was a six foot by two foot patch of dirt in front of a town home I was renting. That year we planted several flower seeds, but none of them took despite my best efforts of watering daily, fertilizing and weeding at least once a week.

That was eight or nine years ago. My green thumb is more practiced now and I can grow a whole lot of things. I have six flower beds in my yard now, as well as several large terracotta pots that I also grow flowers in.

I know that growing flowers isn't the most eco-friendly practice. I choose to forego fertilizer, though my flowers my look a bit wimpy. However, they still need water at least three times a week, and daily in the hottest months. With six large beds, it's a lot of water and it has bothered me for years that my marigolds and petunia's are so darn needy.

I learned about growing native when I first began gardening. Actually, I was looking for cheap/free seeds and I had wondered if I would be able to find plants out in the wild that would look nice in a flower bed. That is how I came across the term “Growing Native.”

But wildflowers in the city are hard to come by and I didn't have the time to drive all over the countryside looking for cone flowers and black-eyed susans. It was less expensive to spend 50 cents for a packet of allysum than order wild flower seeds from a nursery.

Then last spring, my city surprised me. They decided to grow native in all of their public landscaping! That's right, every city park has flower beds brimming with daisies, native asters, flowering milk weed, and some very interesting plants that I had never seen before.

Throughout the season I watched these flower beds mature with my home made seed packets at the ready. In this post from last fall, I describe the process of seed harvesting. When I knew that the seeds were ready, I went on a few excursions to get the native flowers that I wanted from some of my favorite parks. I was very careful to only clip a few dead flower heads and and be respectful to the plant the habitat.

I have waited all winter long to plant my precious little seeds and now that spring is here, I put them into the ground last week. Because I harvested my own, I was able to get a lot of seeds – especially purple cone flower. But I also planted daisies, poppies and a tall exotic looking (but native) grass. I missed harvesting the black-eyed susans, they were spent before I got to them.

While I do still have a few rose bushes and other non-native water plants in my water garden, I will slowly replace these with native species as they age and need replaced.

So what is the point of growing native? How is this a green thing to do, and how does it simplify my world?

Native plants require very little, if any, watering. They are completely used to living in the conditions which I planted them so no need to amend the soil. They are resistant to local pests and plant diseases. They don't need fertilizer to grow well. In other words, you can plant native flowers in their home environment and they will thrive with virtually no care whatsoever. That's easy on my time constraints as well as my budget and it also keeps my yard organic while looking top-notch.

Another plus of native growing is that the local wild life will benefit from what I have planted. These are the plants that best serve the butterflies, lady bugs and other local insects who can feast on the plants without damaging them. In many urban settings, the beneficial insect populations are dwindling, which impacts the larger animals who need the bugs to survive.

Growing native looks great, costs very little (if anything), requires practically no care, and boosts the health of the native ecosystem.

If you would like more information about growing native, visit:

If you live in Missouri and are looking for information (or seeds and seedlings) of native Missouri plants, visit:

Cone Flower Photo Credit: Sean McMenemy
  Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children , Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair . Read about how others are incorporating eco-friendly living solutions into their everyday lives. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Daily Lives!
  • Green Renovating: A Lot, A Little, Not So Much - Laura at Authentic Parenting ponders about the many things that have an impact on eco-friendly renovating
  • Growing Native in My Flower Beds - Destany at They Are All of Me takes the guilt out of her flower habit by switching from high maintenance flowers to native plants which not only lessens her gardening load, but also benefits the local wild life.
  • Baby Steps - Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares how her family became more sustainable, one step at a time.
  • A Greener Holiday - Sara from Family Organic discusses the overwhelming amount of "stuff" that comes with every holiday and talks about how to simplify instead.
  • Forcibly Green--Obligatory Organic - Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about her family's evolution from passive to active green and sustainable living.
  • Giving It Away - Juliet Kemp of Twisting Vines writes about the role of Freecycle, the giant karmic lending library, in her simple and green living.
  • Simply Sustainable - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses her family's attempts to live in harmony with the earth by living simply and more sustainably.
  • How Does Your Yarden Grow - Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassafras writes about an ongoing permaculture project, converting her grass lawn into a mower-free paradise.
  • Green? - Is it about ticking the boxes? sustainablemum shares her thoughts on what being green means in her life.
  • Using Cloth Products To Reduce Household Waste - Angela from Earth Mama's World shares how her family replaced many disposable household products with cloth to reduce their household waste.
  • Going Green in Baby Steps - Joella of Fine and Fair shares some small, easy steps to gradually reduce your environmental impact.
  • Are You Ready To Play Outside?! - Alex from AN Portraits writes about gardening, and playing in the dirt, and how it's O.K. to get dirty, play in the dirt, play with worms, for both adults and kids.
  • Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Laundry Booster - At Natural Parents Network, Megan from The Boho Mama shares an all-natural way to freshen laundry.


  1. Yay! I love native gardens. You are providing nature a natural little ecosystem in your yard. Thanks for sharing!

  2. We grow native as well. I am in Florida and it just requires too much water to grown non native plants! Ours are not in beds, so probably not quite as neat as yours. :)

  3. It sounds like you made the same discovery I did--if you have the right plants for your ecosystem, they grow themselves.

  4. Native is the only way to grow in my area. Violets and clovers and grass are things that just don't exist in a desert. And I have found that native plants have their own beauty, in their own place and in their own time.