The United Nations has designated 2023 as the International Year of Plant Health, with events being planned all over the world. Part of this initiative includes the planting of 1.2 trillion trees. This year is also the 50th anniversary of Ohio’s Natural Areas Act which was established to protect unique natural areas in Ohio and was the basis for the formation of State Nature Preserves across the state. This April is a very special month because it is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and our second, official Ohio Native Plant Month!
On July 18, 2019, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 59 of the 133 General Assembly into law, making Ohio one of the first states in the country to have an entire month dedicated to our native plants.
House Bill 59 simply states: “The month of April is designated as ‘Ohio Native Plant Month’ to increase public awareness of Ohio’s native plants and the many benefits they provide to pollinators, Ohio’s economy, and the health of Ohio’s environment.”
According to Richard Gardner, Chief Botanist, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, we have 1842 native plants in Ohio (as of January 31, 2020). Our native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and grasses are important to our pollinators, birds, insects, and all wildlife…including humans. They are part of an intricate, balanced web, that helps to filter and clean our drinking water, remove contaminants from the air we breathe, cool our planet, and feed the bees that pollinate most of our food crops. At the very core of this elaborate system, are our native plants.
There are many advantages to planting native plants. Visit the website www.OhioNativePlantMonth.org to learn more about some of these benefits. If you are interested in buying native plants, there is a list of local Native Plant Sources on this website that can be downloaded. In addition to planting native plants, it’s also extremely important to remove highly invasive non-native plants from our yards, parks, businesses and communities.
The challenge by the UN to plant 1.2 trillion trees can start right here in Ohio, though it should be native trees. To celebrate Ohio Native Plant Month this April, please consi9der planting a native tree in your yard or community. Their goal is to plant 100,00 native trees and they are well on their way to achieving that goal!
If not a tree, maybe plant one small plant or an entire garden to support native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, participate in a wildflower walk to enjoy Ohio’s wonderful spring ephemerals, replace a small lawn area with beneficial native plants, or remove invasive plants from your yard to provide a natural habitat for native plants to thrive.
Given the importance of our native plants, every month should be Native Plant Month. But having one month dedicated each year as Ohio Native Plant Month will serve as an annual reminder to renew our commitment to the removal of non-native plant species, and the planting of native species!
Why not go Native?