Everybody is talking about them and they continue to gain in popularity, but what exactly are they? Native plants are plants that are adapted to our weather, soils, pests, and they support local pollinators and wildlife.  Because of this, natives have many advantages over non-natives which we think are going to make your life as a gardener much easier.


What are their key features?

Natives can be drought tolerant, resilient, environmentally friendly, support pollinators and do not require pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Drought Tolerance – Once established native plants can have deep and extensive root systems that provide them with both drought and fire resistance.  Natives are also better adapted to our climatic zone and weather patterns.
  • No Pesticides – Native plants are better adapted and thus more resilient against pest and disease attacks and do not require pesticide treatment.  Any damage tends to be aesthetic and temporary.  Be aware that pesticides will have a detrimental effect on pollinators.
  • No Fertilizers – Plants are acclimated to Chicago growing conditions and do not need additional fertilizer input.
  • Sustainability – No need for continuous input of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.  Plants are long-lived, perennials return every year and annuals reseed.  Share plants with family and friends as natives are plentiful.
  • Environmentally Friendly – Plants attract and support pollinators and other local wildlife including birds.
  • Added Interest – Native prairie and woodland plants are exquisitely beautiful and can easily compete with traditional perennials.  By attracting pollinators and birds, natives bring a whole new dimension to your garden, as it will come alive with colorful additions of butterflies, hummingbirds and more.


Start Small!

Do not let yourself be frightened off by thinking you need to convert your entire garden into natives. Small changes can also make a big difference. Start small and get one or two plants.  Another common misbelief regarding natives is that they will result in a messy looking garden.  This is entirely dependent on the gardener!  Plants can look tidy and appealing to neighbors if chosen carefully, planted in the correct place and maintained accordingly.


Will my Garden look Messy?

There is absolutely no reason you should end up with a messy garden, providing you still carry out basic gardening tasks such as weeding, pinching, staking or cutting down plants. Follow our tips to maintain that tidy look and keep both yourself and your neighbors happy!

  • For small spaces choose plants that will not spread underground by root systems.
  • Right plant in the right place! One of our qualified staff members in Perennials will be happy to advise you, ensuring you find that perfect plant.
  • Have a clean and tidy edge leading up to your native bed, i.e. a lawn.
  • Remove seedheads to avoid plants seeding.


The Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch is undoubtedly the most iconic, well-known and most beloved butterfly; quite a feat considering over 750 butterflies are native to the US! Monarchs dazzle with looks and an almost unbelievable 3000 mile annual migration from Mexico to as far as Canada. Widespread use of pesticides, loss of habitat, modern farming techniques and a lack of Milkweed plants are all factors responsible for the drastic decline of the Monarch in recent decades. Milkweed, a group of plants once so prolific they were named weed, have suffered a similar fate under the a regime of widespread herbicide use and RoundUp Ready crops.


Why is everyone planting Milkweed?

Monarchs need Milkweed, it is as simple as that. These native plants provide both a source of nectar and a host plant for Monarchs to lay their eggs on and Monarchs cannot reproduce without them. There are 73 species of Milkweed native to the US, of which all are of equal benefit to the Monarch. At Pesche’s we sell 6 different types of Milkweed which are listed below. For those of you new to Milkweed, one of our qualified members of staff in Perennials will be happy to provide advice on selecting and maintaining Milkweed.


What is the Monarch Movement?

The plight of the Monarch butterfly has received substantial media attention and the results have been immense. Increased public awareness has led to individuals and organizations throughout the country taking action to help save this iconic species. Schools now use Monarch Rearing Projects to teach youth about the predicament of our local wildlife, the causes therefore and the solutions available. Even more importantly however, these projects create a connection and an affinity to nature itself.


How can I help Monarch Butterflies?

  • Plant Milkweed!
  • Add native plants to your garden.
  • Eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides.
  • Diversify your plants to extend your bloom period.
  • Select pollinator friendly annuals plants.
  • Make your friends and neighbors aware of Monarchs.

You can help by planting as little as single Milkweed plant! Enjoy the exquisite sight of Monarchs fluttering around your garden this year, whilst knowing how you have helped secure the future of this national gem.


National Wildlife Federation

National Audubon Society

Monarch Watch

Conservation at Home

Conservation at Home for Cook County

Illinois Wildflowers

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder

Grow Native

Bees and Pollinators

The Xerces Society

Million Garden Pollinator Challenge

USDA Forestry Service

Seed Savers Exchange


Pesche's Milkweed Selection