Schoolyard Habitat

How to Choose and Find Native Plants MAEOE Photo

Native or indigenous plants are adapted to the local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, and have developed natural defenses to withstand many types of insects and diseases. Because of these traits, native plants will grow without much maintenance. Wildlife species evolve with plants; therefore, they use native plant communities as their habitat. Using native plants helps preserve the balance of natural ecosystems.

In contrast, many natural ecosystems have been degraded by exotic or non-native plants introduced from other parts of the world. Some of these introduced plants are invasive, meaning they do not have any natural controls and spread rapidly. Invasive plants can smother and compete with native vegetation. Ecosystems with invasive, exotic plants have less wildlife and plant diversity than unaffected systems.

So now you know why you should use native plants, but how do you choose which ones to use and where can you find them? Below you will find links to several very comprehensive and easy-to-use native plant guides for regions across Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Several of these guides are also available in paperback free of charge.   You will also find information on where to obtain native plants, how to determine the number of plants you will need and specific plant recommendations for forest, wetland and meadow projects. Students will be able to easily use these resources to choose plants suitable for their habitat project.

Native Plant Guides

•  Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed Guide -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife
•  Order a FREE copy of the Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat & Conservation Landscaping Guide
•  Native Plants for Maryland: regional lists -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
•  Mid-Atlantic Native Plants: text listing --   U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
•  Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States: Identification and Control
• 
Invasives Species Guide - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

How & Where To Obtain Native Plants

•  How to obtain native plants - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Bayscapes Program
•  Sources of Native Plants for the Middle Atlantic Region - Maryland Native Plant Society
•  Native Plant Nurseries in the Chesapeake Bay Region -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
• 
Creating a Native Plant Chart -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
• 
TREE-MENDOUS MARYLAND -- Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Native Plants: FOREST

•  Determining the number of plants needed: FOREST -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
• 
Native Plant Choices: FOREST -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
• 
TREE-MENDOUS MARYLAND -- Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Native Plants: WETLANDS

•  Determining the number of plants needed: WETLAND -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
•  Native Plant Choices: WETLAND -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
•  Native Wetland Plants - Environmental Concern

Native Plants: MEADOWS

•  Determining the number of plants needed: MEADOW -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
• 
Native Plant Choices: MEADOW -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide

Native Seed Mixes: MEADOWS

•  Developing a meadow seed mix -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide
•  Meadow mixes for Mid-Atlantic region -- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide

   Native Nurseries offering customized seed mixes:
      •  Ernst Conservation Seeds, LLP
      •  Chesapeake Native Nursery


Also see:
Drawing up a Project Design



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