Native plants

by Kate Bradbury

According to the Natural History Museum, if you want to grow native, you need to grow plants native to your postcode.

Native poppy, Papaver somniferumGrowing native plants is big news these days, but what is a native plant exactly? Well, it's not just a plant native to our country. According to the Natural History Museum, if you want to grow native, you need to grow plants native to your postcode.

Native wildflowers are becoming endangered, thanks to modern farming methods and the loss of hedgerows and woods. Species are even becoming extinct, with the beautiful ghost orchid being the latest in a long line of native plants to have disappeared from our landscape.

Native plants are much better for our wildlife than introduced ones. A native tree (such as oak or hawthorn) might provide food and shelter for 150 insects, birds and other animals, but an introduced one (such as Japanese maple) is often devoid of wildlife. They're also much better adapted at dealing with our soils and climate, being able to withstand long periods of dry weather, and will grow in difficult areas of the garden.

I've just lifted the concrete slabs of my back yard, in a bid to transform it into a wildlife garden. I'll plant it up with a range of local, native plants (as well as some of my favourite bee-friendly cultivars), and monitor the wildlife that it attracts. So far we just have a friendly pigeon visiting, and the frogs I rescued from the drain, but I'm hoping the addition of a small tree and some shrubs and wildflowers will bring in a range of birds and insects.

I was excited to discover which plants are native to my postcode. It turned out some familiar plants, such as foxglove, cranesbill, teasel and viper's bugloss, but I'll definitely be making room in my plot for stinking goosefoot, three-nerved sandwort, autumn lady's tresses and goldilocks buttercup.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Native plants
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 05/12/2009 at 10:32

Thanks for this amazingly useful link -- -- very addictive!

Gardeners' World Web User 05/12/2009 at 18:32

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to advertise, but I'm so pleased to come across a blog like this!

Gardeners' World Web User 10/12/2009 at 08:46

Not sure if this is the place to be and although the money tree / jade is not a native however I understand that they do not usually flower in this country so how rare is it? My 15 year old plant is in flower right now which is the first time that it has and in fact I never knew that they did until researching it on the internet. Should I be letting anyone know?

Gardeners' World Web User 10/12/2009 at 22:01

My jade tree flowered - can't remember how old it is - and so did my umbrella palm. The latter died shortly after flowering, but the jade tree is still going strong.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:40

I think wildlife along with the right plants in the garden always look beautiful, i think to gardening though the full scene has to be done for it to give you full accomplishment, i am from yorkshire and love to have a beautiful garden and theres nothing better than yorkshire flags to make a massive eye attraction, also go hand and hand with the planting and bring the full picture together, i searched around yorkshire for the stone products i wanted and after finding not what i wanted i stumbled across a lancashire company called steptoes yard, where i bought mostly everything i needed apart from the wildlife, right down to my railway sleepers and even a few nice looking chimney's.