Diversity of Plants
What is plant diversity and why is it important in a Mississippi Smart Landscape? Plant diversity, also called biodiversity, is critical to the health of an ecosystem. In a biodiverse ecosystem, each organism plays an important role and helps regulate natural processes and growth cycles. That means that if one part of a natural environment becomes too dominant, another part will bring balance back to the system. The diversity of plant life exists for many reasons, one being adaptive change. When a plant is used in a landscape, it provides a variety of ecological services, including shade, wildlife habitat, clean water, healthy soil, and clean air. If we only use a small variety of plants and those plant types become sick or are attacked by a pest, the landscape will take a long time to recover.
MSU Extension Service Publications
Gardens that celebrate and fit the natural Mississippi landscape are a desire of many homeowners and educators. When you use native plants in the garden, they offer many benefits, including adaptation to local soil and climate conditions, creation of food and shelter for local wildlife, conservation of local flora types, and the creation of an atmosphere unique to our state. Just as there are many plant species that are native to our region, there are many approaches to incorporating native plants into private and public gardens.
There is a wealth of plants suited for groundcover in Mississippi, and varieties should be selected according to the amount of sun or shade available in the desired area. In areas that are too shady for lawn grass to properly grow, such as under the dense shade of oak or magnolia trees, shade-loving groundcovers are the perfect choice.
There are 30 shrub species native to Mississippi that you can use successfully in home landscapes. This publication gives a brief description of each and how they benefit the local wildlife.
This publication discusses annual and perennial flowers and their uses in gardens. It gives a basic overview of both types of flowers and how to grow them in your garden.
Butterfly gardens must have two types of plants: host plans for larvae and nectar plants for adults. This paper presents a list of the common butterflies of Mississippi and includes the suggested types of host plants and nectar plants to put in your garden.
Natural habitats for wildlife are rapidly decreasing due to urbanization and agricultural pressures. Residential areas, such as backyards, can play an important role in conserving wildlife. Homeowners can enhance the natural features in their yards and neighborhoods to create thriving wildlife habitats.
A Call For Backyard Biodiversity - by Douglas Tallamy
The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook
Chapter 1: page 5-14
Alabama Smart Yards Handbook
Chapter #8 pg 41-28
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database
Search the USDA PLANTS Database for Mississippi Native Plants
Landscaping with Native Plants
Gardening with Wildflowers
Wild Ones: Experts in Native Plants and Natural Landscaping