University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Sustainable Landscaping: Native Plants


by Carl Salsedo, Ph.D.

Extension Educator, Horticulture

What are native plants?

Native plants (also called indigenous plants) are plants that have evolved over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region. In Connecticut they have evolved since the glacier passed through somewhere in the range of eighteen to twenty thousand years ago. They have adapted to the geography, hydrology and climate of the region and to other species of plants and animals inhabiting the region. As a consequence, native plants are a part of a community that provides habitat (food and shelter) for a variety of native wildlife species such as songbirds and butterflies. Native plants, when used in home landscaping, provide the ecological benefits of supporting local wildlife while requiring minimal maintenance due to their adaptation to local climate and soil conditions.