It’s Springtime . . . Plant Natives!

Text and photos by Kasha Helget

With longer daylight hours, warming soils, and the return of bird, bees, and butterflies, get ready to roll up your sleeves and install some native plants. Our local animals depend on them, AND they provide beautiful enhancements to our landscapes. So, please consider a few—or several native plants to brighten your yard, patio or deck. The native wildlife will appreciate it!

Photo of orange flowers
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Why Choose Native Plants?

Because they’re “from here,” natives are adapted to our climate and soil conditions. They are often the only or most healthful source of nectar, pollen, seeds, and leaves for local butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals. Other benefits of native plants are that they:

  • do not require fertilizers and few if any pesticides,
  • need less water than lawns, and help prevent erosion,
  • help reduce air pollution,
  • provide shelter and food for wildlife,
  • promote biodiversity and stewardship of our natural heritage, and
  • are beautiful and increase landscape values!

How to Choose the Right Natives for Your Yard or Pots?

It’s important to install the right plants for your conditions (wet, dry, shade, sun, slope, bog, soil type, etc.). How do you know what’s right for you? One of the best sources is the Plant Nova Natives website: http://www.plantnovanatives.org/, with easy-to-follow tips, lots of photos, and additional links to learn what will work for your situation.

Where Can You Buy Natives?

Most commercial nurseries do not carry many native plants. If you have a favorite place that has a weak selection, tell them to please stock more. But there is a wonderful solution in the coming weeks: visit the increasing number of native plant sales in the area (many of which provide food, entertainment, and fun for kids, too). Below is information on several in Northern Virginia. Happy shopping and planting!

Close up photo of a plant with four leaves and clusters of purple berries
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana
Close up photo of a button bush flower that is white and spherical which is being pollinated by a bee
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

2019 Spring Native Plant Sales

NOVA Soil & Water Conservation District, Native Seedling Sale

  • Order online till 04/2/19 or till supply runs out.
  • Pick up plants either Friday, April 5th, 9am to 4pm, or Saturday, April 6th, 9am to noon at Sleepy Hollow Bath & Racquet Club, 3516 Sleepy Hollow Rd, Falls Church, VA 22044.
  • Visit the Sale Site.

Friends of the National Arboretum, Lahr Symposium and Native Plant Sale

  • 03/30/2019
  • 8:30am to 4pm
  • U.S. National Arboretum: 3501 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC
  • Sale located in R Street parking lot at Arboretum.
  • Visit the Sale Site

Potowmack Chapter Weekly Plant Sale

  • From April 3rd through October is a low-key WEEKLY plant sale on the first Wednesday of each month at the propagation beds behind the main building at Green Springs Garden.
  • 10am to 1pm
  • 4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria, VA 22312
  • Park Website: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Native Plant Sale

  • 04/06/2019
  • 9am to 3pm
  • Right BEFORE main parking lot at Morven Park: 17263 Southern Planter Ln, Leesburg, VA
  • Spring and fall sales
  • Visit the Sale Site

American Horticulture Society, Spring Garden Market

  • 4/12-13/2019
  • 10am to 4pm
  • River Farm: 7931 E. Boulevard Dr., Alexandria, VA
  • Includes some native plant vendors.
  • Visit the Sale Site.

Long Branch Nature Center

  • Pre-order through 04/24/2017. Order online for pick up 05/03/2019 from 3-6pm, or 05/04/2019 from 10am-3pm.
  • Sale 05/04/2019 (Rain date 05/05/2019)
  • 1 to 4pm
  • Long Branch Nature Center
  • 625 S. Carlin Springs Road
  • Arlington, VA 22204
  • Visit the Sale Site.

Northern Alexandria Native Plant Sale

  • 04/29/2019
  • 9am to 2pm
  • The Church of St. Clement: 1701 N. Quaker Ln, Alexandria, VA
  • Spring and fall sales.
  • Visit the Sale Site.

Rappahannock Plant Sale at Waterpenny Farm

  • 04/27/2019
  • 8am to 2pm
  • 53 Waterpenny Lane,
  • Sperryville, VA 22740

Friends of Riverbend Park Native Plant Sale

  • 8 to 11am
  • Riverbend Park Outdoor Classroom/Picnic Shelter on Potomac Hills Street between Jeffery Road and the Visitors’ Center.
  • Pre-order through March 16. Pick up pre-ordered plants Friday, May 3 at the Riverbend Park Educational Pavilion on Potomac Hills Street in Great Falls. If plants do not emerge and look healthy by this date, we will refund your payment or replace with a similarly-priced item.
  • Visit the Sale Site.

Reston Association, Spring Festival

  • 05/04/2019
  • 1 to 5pm
  • Walker Nature Center: 11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA
  • Includes a native plant sale.

Earth Sangha Plant Sale

Prince William Wildflower Society Annual Wildflower and Native Plant Sale

  • 05/11/2019
  • 9am to 12pm
  • Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church picnic area, 8712 Plantation Lane, Manassas, VA
  • Visit the Sale Site.

Friends of Runnymede Park

Green Springs Garden Day Plant Sale

  • Potowmack Chapter native plants and other native vendors
  • 05/18/2019
  • 9am to 3pm
  • Green Spring Gardens: 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA
  • Visit the Sale Site.

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