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Planting Native Species in British Columbia

Published on November 28, 2011

Andrew Appleton of Evergreen BC talks about native plants in the MOPARRC garden.
(Photo: L. Weidenhammer)

The final talk in the MOPARRC garden series was led by none other than Evergreen BC’s recently departed regional director, Andrew Appleton. An expert in native plants, Andrew has dedicated many years to helping restore local habitats and ecosystems. During his talk in the gardens, he shared his knowledge about helping native plants thrive in Vancouver and surrounding neighbourhoods.

According to Andrew, native plant species can take up to three years to become fully established. They may not thrive or look healthy right away but with some patience, you will see them flourish. Once planted, these species are fairly low maintenance—they don’t require watering or chemical fertilizers, and they can thrive in poor soils. You can help their chances of survival by choosing the right location in your garden. Different species require different quantities of water and sunlight, so do a little research on what will work best in your garden.

Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is native to BC. (Photo: Brenda Ellenwood)

Planting native species helps to maintain our local biodiversity, which is especially important in the face of climate change. An ecosystem with a diversity of native plants provides excellent habitat for native animals and bird species, as well as corridors for wildlife migration.

Before planting your native species, make sure you’ve cleared the area of invasive species. Invasive plants can completely take over an area, choking out the natives. In the Lower Mainland of BC, these plants include deadnettle (lamium), goutweed, knotweed, Himalayan blackberry, Scotch broom, holly and others. For plants like deadnettle and goutweed, control is as simple as putting down a layer of mulch (cardboard or bark). For bigger, peskier plants like knotweed and broom, you will have to put in a little time digging out the entire root bulb to make sure it cannot grow back.

Every native species you can plant helps restore our local ecosystems. Check out the Evergreen Native Plant Database to explore options for your own backyard.

Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia) is also native to BC. (Photo: Linda Read)