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Are non native plants bad?

Hi everyone!
I am very new to this forum.
My questions are: Is it bad to plant non-native plants? and Are gardens actually good for the environment, because they steal pollinators away from other plants?
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  • Chris-P-BaconChris-P-Bacon Posts: 796
    In answer to your fist question - Not overly bad no, but there are some caveats;

    https://www.rhs.org.uk/prevention-protection/invasive-non-native-plants

    Your second question - yes, they are...and no, non-natives don't steal pollinators from other plants.

    https://www.rhs.org.uk/wildlife/native-and-non-native-plants-for-pollinators

    All good questions but don't take my word for it..I suspect you will get many differing opinions.  ;)
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,568
    Non natives aren't bad but generally speaking they are only good for pollinators. The larvae of many insects including our Butterflies are dependent on the leaves of native plants. Pollinators, especially Bees, have had a lot of publicity but they're part of an eco-system that includes everything from the tiniest life form to the huge. It's all important.

  • AthelasAthelas CambridgeshirePosts: 647
    edited 7 June
    About gardens, they help pollinators — links to examples of research below — although of course there are other aspects to consider when thinking of the environment (e.g. if they provide enough/varied habitats for wildlife, or say in terms of water conservation or alleviating urban heat)

    https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/pioneering-research-reveals-gardens-are-secret-powerhouse-for-pollinators/ (published paper: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2745.13598)

    https://www.bristol.ac.uk/biology/news/2022/urban-gardens-are-a-dependable-food-source-for-pollinators-through-the-year-stu.html (published paper: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.14094)
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 15,669
    edited 7 June
    The better question is: what are the advantages of native planting?

    Certain species are attached to certain native plants only - butterflies and moths particularly. You cut out the cut out the plants so you cut the animals. Native animals have spent thousands of years evolving alongside a certain community of plants. Insects, in particular have species and overall numbers in freefall. Wilder, native planting can help stabilise numbers, which is a pressing and important task. It's not arbitrary and it does matter.

    It's easy enough to mix natives in with the rest in gardens. Other priorities including having single blooms that insects can access, blooms that are not so highly cultivated that they produce no nectar or pollen at all and having forage for insects across the whole year

    Are gardens good? Yes, from the perspectives of the insects. Planted gardens can offer a rich source of forage and habitat that is often gone now from the wider countryside. The same is true of what they can offer to birds, amphibians and mammals. Farms are not have their insects "stolen", they are creating places where insects and other wildlife cannot live. We cannot exist as a species without a thriving ecosphere; their well being comes first.
  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,241
    Hi everyone!
    I am very new to this forum.
    My questions are: Is it bad to plant non-native plants? and Are gardens actually good for the environment, because they steal pollinators away from other plants?
    It's not as simple as that.

    No it is not bad to plant non-native plants....but some are bad, very bad indeed for example some pond plants which are now banned like pennywort and parrots feather which the Environment Agency spends many thousands of pounds removing every year from our water courses. 

    On the other hand, some are very good, for example Pyracantha which has flowers which benefit pollinating insects and berries which thrushes feed on in the autumn.  
    These are just a few examples, there are many many more.

    Gardens are definitely good for the environment! Nectar rich plants do not 'steal away', as you put it, pollinators from other plants.  Our pollinators need all the help they can get right now, primarily due to the consequences of pesticides.


    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,083
    There was an article in New Scientist recently posing the same question.
    Some of the points made were-

    It depends partly on what you class as a Native Species and how far back the cut off point is.
    e.g. If it were 500 years, then olives and pomegranates brought over by the Romans would be classed as native.
    Plants like poppies and cornflowers aren't native to the UK.

    Also many of the bugs and other wildlife that inhabit our gardens in the UK also inhabit gardens in Europe and the Americas and elsewhere, so just because a plant is not native to the UK doesn't mean that something won't benefit from it, as the same bug/creature may also be present elsewhere in the world where it is its favourite plant.

    So the best plan is to have a garden rich in diverse species that are generally considered to be wildlife friendly

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 15,669
    Pete.8 said:
    It depends partly on what you class as a Native Species and how far back the cut off point is.
    e.g. If it were 500 years, then olives and pomegranates brought over by the Romans would be classed as native.

    They were never naturalised. Assuming nobody is interested in arguing the toss, native plants are valuable.

    I think it's so sad that anyone would think that a garden might be bad for the environment.

    There is a lot we can do in a garden that isn't remotely helpful.

    "Why are native plants a good idea" is a good question.
    Gardens are a massive asset, nationally accounting for a space the size of Suffolk. We are in a crisis. They can hugely help. The thought is not sad. It's terrific.
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 22,374
    edited 7 June
    When you think of it, we're  only been cut off from Europe by a little bit of sea and , in geological terms, for not very long.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,435
    I think it's possible to become over-concerned with the native/non native debate. The most ardent rewilders would take us back to the stone age and have little love for gardens or humans, come to that.
     There's lots of information about which plants are invasive or damaging to native species and which contribute best to the well being of our flora and fauna. I think that if you bear these in mind, the occasional foray into something more exotic should be forgiven.
    And yes. Gardens really are better than concrete.
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