The North Carolina Native Plant Society (NCNPS) recognizes the importance of home gardens, along with larger public gardens, as critical links in maintaining native ecosystems. We seek to increase plantings of North Carolina natives and remove/control invasive species. To encourage the establishment of habitats that support native plant and animal life and to recognize those who do, NCNPS began the Native Plant Habitat Certification Program .
People often ask: Why should I certify my garden?
Those seeking certification are likely those who already understand the value of promoting and protecting natural ecosystems, and there are rewards to this effort, both personal and beyond.
This process encourages applicants to intimately understand their property and examine their conservation practices. Many people who seek certification report a deeper appreciation of the connections between plants and wildlife and the quieter presence of many native species. In making an inventory of their plants, they recognize the amount of time and effort they have given to promoting a native habitat.
Having a certified habitat announces to those who see it that the owner is a benefactor of native plants and animals, and it demonstrates that the gardener transcends a narrow personal interest by working to preserve a healthy native environment. A certified habitat also:
- creates opportunities for conversation about the importance of preserving native ecosystems
- shows support for NCNPS
- educates about the dangers of invasive species
- provides critical linkages for animal corridors
Keep in mind that a garden is a work in progress. We know that as a conscientious effort is made to develop a native plant habitat, the garden will never become a final statement, but rather a continuing development connecting the gardener with nature.
NCNPS is unable to certify your site as a native plant habitat if you are actively cultivating any Category 1 or 2 invasive plants, as listed by the NCNPS ( Invasive Plant List). Some of the more common plants on this list are: Privet, Kudzu, Asian Wisteria, Japanese Honeysuckle, Mimosa, English Ivy, Nandina, Burning Bush, and Bradford Pear. While we understand the difficulty of removing established plantings, we will ask for a long-term plan that includes eliminating Category 1 and 2 plants from your yard. We can help you identify others during our site visit, but if you do not know what they are, chances are you are not trying to grow them.
NCNPS encourages those who seek certification to complete the application. We have streamlined the application, listing below several links to help with plant identification and botanical names. Applications can be submitted online.
We have members in the regional chapters who will assist as needed and time allows. Please contact Dr. Larry Mellichamp at email@example.com if you need assistance in completing the application.
Here are links for more information about North Carolina’s native plants, where they grow, landscape attributes, and much more.
NC native plant identification and nativity :
- Alan Weakley’s Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States, available as a free download (a searchable PDF) from: Flora.htm
- The Biota of North America Program [BONAP]: Biota of Noth America
Information about selecting and growing North Carolina native plants:
- From the North Carolina Botanical Garden: Native Southeastern Plants (scroll to the bottom for downloadable PDFs)
- Larry Mellichamp’s book Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden [2014, Timber Press]
- From Audubon NC: A list of 400 bird- and pollinator-friendly native plants is available at Audubon (scroll to the bottom to download the list)
Upon receipt of your application, a member of the NC Native Plant Society may visit your site as part of the certification process. This visit will be scheduled with you prior to the visitation date.
Gardens certified as Native Plant Habitats will be listed on the NCNPS website and are often highlighted in the NCNPS newsletter, Native News
There is an application fee of $10.00 for NCNPS members; $35 for non-member which includes a 1-year membership. Make checks payable to NCNPS.
Mail your completed application and fee to:
Dr. Larry Mellichamp
Native Plant Certification
3036 Ventosa Drive,
Charlotte NC 28205
Phone: (704) 536-2704
Metal Sign for Certified Habitats
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