Once hooked on wildlife gardening with native plants, it can be a real challenge to find native plants. Yes a few have been mainstreamed, and the nursery down the street may carry them. But beware of cultivars of native plant. Cultivars are plants created or selected for specific characteristics such as early blooming or color, often at the expense of nectar, berries (the plants may be sterile), and sometimes even the leaf chemistry is changed so the plant can no longer be used as a caterpillar plant. We (wildlife gardeners) want the nectar, the berries, and we want the leaf chemistry intact so our butterflies can create the next generation!
Be careful too of where you buy milkweeds and other native plants. Many plants sold at big box stores have been treated with insecticides called neonicitinoids. Monarch caterpillars will die eating these plants! Read more HERE and in Wild Ones excellent article, “Where have all the insects gone?
To help folks get to good and safe sources of native plants I’ve put together a list for those of us living in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and eastern Maryland. The list is weighted heavily for southern New Jersey. I use it as a handout when I teach workshops or give programs. I continue to update it as I learn of new sources, so keep checking back. Here is my latest edition:
Some Sources of NATIVE PLANTS: 2016
by Patricia Sutton (pdf)
Be sure to also check Find Native Plants by my good friend Carole Brown, covering all over the US and Canada.