By KATHLEEN LOFTUS
Capital News Service
LANSING – Many people are looking to wildflowers and native plants for environmental and economic reasons.
Jean Weirich, treasurer of the Wildflower Association of Michigan, said education about wildflower planting and seeding has recently become popular.
She said insects are more attracted to native plants for nutrients they need. When insects consume those nutrients, birds feed on them for protein.
For example, 600 types of insects feed on oaks while non-native trees attract only three types.
Another important thing for gardeners to know is that insects cannot adapt to plants, Weirich said. Insects and plants have already adapted to their environment.
With native wildflowers, there is no need to constantly water the plants. And prairie grass provides better habitat protection for animals, unlike weeds that flatten in winter weather, she said.
Esther Derwald, owner of the Michigan Wildflower Farm in Portland, said important native plants are disappearing and should to be reintroduced to keep the environment healthy.
She said animals need native plants for nectar, cover and food not available from non-native species.
Weirich said starting a wildflower garden is an investment, but in the long run, saves money on maintenance, lawn mowing, fertilizer and time.
Specialty sources for seeds and plants have developed in Michigan and promote the importance native plants.
The back-to-native-plants movement in Michigan began in Ann Arbor and expanded elsewhere in the Southern Lower Peninsula, she said.
© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.