Landscaping Myth: Wild and Native Plants are the Same Thing

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    In landscaping, there are many myths associated with native plants and flowers. At High Prairie Outdoors, we make it our business to know the origin and nature of each of the flora and fauna we work with. To help keep our customers educated on the plants we use in your gardens, we’d like to talk about one myth, in particular, the myth that wild and native plants are the same thing.

    What is a Native Plant?

    A native plant is any type of growth indigenous to an area. Here in Kansas, that would include several species of grass, rushes, mosses, vines, trees, sedges, and wildflowers. These plants appear throughout the state in home gardens, woods, prairies, and around streams, and other waterways.

    What makes a plant native is its origin. Native Kansas plants are naturally grown in Kansas and can be dated back to Kansas as a place of origin. Sometimes, plants that grow naturally in Kansas were transported here in the past and have since begun to flourish naturally. These introduced species are not native, as they did not come from Kansas originally.

    According to The Kansas Native Plant Society, the marker to determine if a plant is native, or simply wild, is to date it back to the arrival of Euro Americans on the Great Plains in the 1800s. If a plant can be predated to this time, it is generally considered native.

    What is a Wild Plant?

    A wild plant, like a native plant, grows freely in Kansas without the need for planting or cultivation. This means the flowers and plants which bloom each year with no help from humans. Of course, this covers a large variety of plant species, including those which were transported here from other countries, and have since found a home in our state.

    In this way, you can see that a native plant can be a wild plant, but not all wild plants are native.

    The Native Plants of Kansas

    In Kansas, there are roughly 2000 plants that call the state home. These include flowering and nonflowering native plants. Some of the native plants you might find in the state are:

    • Blue Wild Indigo
    • Hairy Grama
    • Pale Purple Coneflower
    • Wild Ginger
    • Blanket Flower
    • June Grass
    • Indian Grass
    • Rose Vervain
    • Elm-leaf Goldenrod
    • Rough Gayfeather
    • Little Bluestem

    Many other native plant species make up the flora and fauna of our state. Depending on what you want to see in your garden, and when you’d like it to bloom, your landscaper can help you select the best native plants each season.

    What Makes Native Plants Great for Kansas Gardens?

    While many homeowners choose to import plants during the spring and summer season, there are many benefits to growing native. In fact, at High Prairie Outdoors, we often prefer working with native plants for a variety of reasons.

    1. Native plants are used to Kansas climates and temperatures. This means they are more likely to flourish despite changing weather patterns and soil.
    2. Native plants require less maintenance due to their adaptability, and longevity in Kansas soil.
    3. You will save water, as native plants often draw on natural sources of water like rain and earth.
    4. Native plants are beautiful and underrated.
    5. Buying native plants encourage more pollination of these naturally occurring flowers. It also supports the local economy, as you are buying or sourcing locally.

    It is best to carefully purchase native plant seeds or seedlings from a local source, and not buy them in discount or bulk. High Prairie Outdoors works closely with local native plant nurseries and can help you find the best quality plants for your garden.

    Do Not Dig Up Native Plants

    It is important, as we discuss the benefit of native plants in your garden, to point out that it is illegal in many states to dig up native plants found in the wild. This practice disturbs wildlife and often kills the plant during transport. It is better to buy plants from a well-established native plant supplier or local greenhouse.

    Contact High Prairie Outdoors for More Information on Native and Wild Plants

    Are you interested in learning more about the native and wild plants in Kansas and how they could add to your home garden? High Prairie Outdoors is a full-service boutique landscaping firm located in Kansas City. We work with homeowners across the city to develop beautiful outdoor spaces.

    To learn more about our local native flora and fauna, we invite you to contact us at 1-816-398-2901.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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