New Jersey Aims to Bring Back Native Plants

New Jerseyans can expect to see the Garden State bloom with more native plants soon, thanks to a new law that encourages gardeners to purchase them.

Black-Eyed Susan
The Black-eyed Susan is native to New Jersey. Photo by Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock

New Jerseyans can expect to see the Garden State bloom with more native plants soon, thanks to a new law that encourages gardeners to purchase them.

The law, signed by Governor Murphy earlier this year, establishes a Jersey Native Plants Program in the Department of Agriculture, which is creating a labeling system, akin to the Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown initiatives. It is set to identify around 2,100 species as “Jersey native” plants at retail garden centers and nurseries, raising awareness about the many benefits of choosing them for the local ecosystem, such as better resistance to drought and less of a need for pesticides.

With approximately a third of New Jersey native plants at risk, the hope is that the new law will curb the increase of invasive species and their repercussions on the local ecosystem, says Hubert Ling, president of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, which supported the bill.

Native plants, such as Basswood, Common Milkweed and Cardinal Flower, are highly adaptable to local climates and soils, where they have evolved for thousands of years. They also create better habitats for wildlife, help conserve and clean our water, and reduce the impact associated with fertilizers and pesticides.

So the next time you reach for a Multiflora rose at your local garden center, think about choosing a Black-eyed Susan instead.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to explore flowers and plants throughout the Garden State, head to one of New Jersey’s secret gardens. Some of our favorite hidden gems are Avis Campbell Gardens in Montclair, Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown, the Gables in Beach Haven, and Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville, which is hosting its annual plant sale (some of which are native) on May 7 from 10 am-noon at 61 Jockey Hollow Road.  

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