The importance of native plants for the home gardener
“Native Plants for the Home Gardener” is the theme for this year’s Penn State Extension Butler County Master Gardener Farm Show education booth.
This theme was selected to showcase the importance of native plants in preserving Pennsylvania’s biodiversity, a theme that is supported by the Insect Biodiversity Center at Penn State’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences (https://www.huck.psu.edu/institutes-and-centers/insect-biodiversity-center).
The Master Gardeners chose to feature this topic due to the reduction of natural areas that shelter a wealth of our native plants. Native insects rely on native plant hosts. A reduction of native insects means that birds have fewer insects to feed to their young, and that will lead to a reduction of bird species.
In the next 50 years, what we plant in our yards will determine the kind of wildlife that can live in Pennsylvania. By planting natives, gardeners can help retain our natural history and the beauty and diversity of Penn's Woods.
The education booth is designed to explain native plants and highlight the many advantages of using native plants in perennial gardens.
Examples of seasonal native plants will be provided as well as where the public can purchase native plants, the benefits of each plant to the perennial garden, and the native pollinator that depends on the plant.
In addition to the focus on pollinators and agriculture, the Master Gardener education booth will provide updated information on the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicaluta). This insect is considered a threat to Pennsylvania’s agricultural crops and trees. The spotted lanternfly has been identified in Pennsylvania, including Beaver and Allegheny counties.
Penn State Extension and its Master Gardeners are working to keep this insect from spreading by educating the community and will be available to explain how to identify the spotted lanternfly as well as its host plant, the tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and how to report your spotted lanternfly sightings.
Master Gardeners will be in attendance to answer questions on garden-related topics throughout the duration of the Farm Show. Information about becoming a Penn State Extension Master Gardener and the next Basic Training Certification class will be available.
The Farm Show will be at the Butler Farm Show Grounds, 625 Evans City Road, Connoquenessing Township, from Aug. 8 to 13. Gates will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $10 per person. Admission includes parking, entertainment, exhibits, grandstand events and unlimited midway rides (except boat rides).
The Master Gardeners look forward to meeting you there!
Terri Helfer is a Penn State Extension Master Gardener in Butler County.