More and more home gardeners are choosing to grow native plants, not only because they add a variety of shapes and textural interest but because, at some time during their life cycle, for one reason or another, most of our native insects require a host plant that is native. Likewise, the birds that frequent our gardens depend on our native insects for nourishment. For example, it takes thousands of caterpillars and insects to sustain a young clutch of baby birds.

Native plants co-evolved with native wildlife, with the insects and small animals in turn supporting larger predators. As well as restoring the ecosystem and preserving countless species, native plants also help filter the air, improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and create topsoil. Natives are also a good investment, because once they take up residence in our gardens, they demand very little water, fertilizer, or pruning.

While it hasn’t always been easy to find local sources of native plants, we are now fortunate to have a number of growers who are producing a wide array of natives here in the lower Midwest. There are several vendors at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market with a variety of organically grown native plants and shrubs for sale. The most recently opened local retailer of native plants is Deep Roots Garden Center.

Located at 3220 E. 3rd St., on the patio of Bloomingfoods East, Deep Roots makes it convenient to pick up a few groceries and browse their selections on the same visit. And should you buy more plants than you can fit into your car, delivery service is offered for a reasonable fee.

The knowledgeable staff can provide helpful information concerning how to combine plants and nurture them effectively. Be sure to attend the educational talks, workshops, and discussions they hold on a monthly basis. And pick up a copy of Doug Tallamy’s classic book, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants (Timber Press). Ramsay Harik, proprietor of Deep Roots, notes, “Once I read Tallamy’s book, I was hooked on the idea that native plants are the essential missing link between insects and birds in our yards.”

For more information on Deep Roots Garden Center, including more information on the local growers providing plants and the types of plants you’ll find, call 812-822-2961 or visit