By Luanne McGovern
The West Virginia Native Plant Society and the Kanawha Garden Club are pleased to announce the signing of a proclamation by Governor Jim Justice on Feb. 20, 2023, officially designating April as West Virginia Native Plant Month.
Native plants are special because they have evolved over thousands of years alongside native bees, birds and wildlife. The intricate relationships that have developed between local flora and fauna are extremely specialized and cannot be replaced with ornamental, non-native plants.
Our landscapes today often contain plants collected from around the world, but many of our insects and caterpillars have not evolved quickly enough to be able to eat these strange, exotic foods.
Therefore, native plants are unique because they provide food for native wildlife. Incorporating so many non-native plants into our landscapes has caused a sharp decline in pollinators and wildlife species, because of destruction of habitat and the lack of food.
To help reverse this trend, many more native plants need to be planted across the country, including a wide variety of native plants with flowers that have different blooming times, flower colors and flower shapes.
This is a coordinated effort across all 50 states to increase awareness of the critical role native plants play in supporting a healthy environment and ensuring thriving wildlife and pollinator populations. We are extremely grateful to Governor Justice for taking the lead and recognizing how important native plants are to keeping West Virginia “Wild and Wonderful.”
The National Native Plant Month initiative was started in 2021. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are the founding co-sponsors of a bipartisan Senate Resolution to designate April 2021 and April 2022 as National Native Plant Month. With the retirement of Senator Portman, Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana) and Senator Mazie Hirono have agreed to co-sponsor the renewal of the Senate Resolution to make April 2023 National Native Plant Month.
The West Virginia Native Plant Society has been working to protect and preserve West Virginia’s native plants for over 40 years. The Kanawha Garden Club (a member of the Garden Club of America) has been educating its members and the public in the fields of horticulture, gardening, beautification, conservation, and the environment since 1921.
During the month of April, people and organizations across the state can celebrate native plants by planting native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses, planning educational events with schools and community organizations, hosting hands-on workshops, removing non-native invasive plants so native plants can thrive, and restoring areas with native habitats to allow birds, bees, butterflies and all wildlife to flourish.
Learn more about West Virginia’s native plants and the native plants society at wvnps.com