Native plants help fight climate change. Here’s where they’re available in Whatcom County

Daniel Pickard/The Bellingham Herald

With spring’s planting season nearing in Whatcom County, including native plants in your garden can help protect against climate change.

Native plants are better for the climate because they are built to survive in the Pacific Northwest environment, requiring less hands-on care and fewer nutrients.

You can find native plants for your garden Saturday at the Native Plant Sale, an annual event run by the Whatcom Conservation District. Coordinator Emily Hirsch said they have 40,000 plants this year, 30,000 of which have already been pre-ordered. The rest are for sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 18 at Pioneer Park, 5465-5477 Ferndale Road.

Some of the more common plants in the sale are mock oranges, Pacific dogwood trees and madrone trees, Hirsch said.

Native plants don’t need to be watered as often, can survive in the hot summers and frozen winters and don’t need to be fertilized.

“There are a lot of ways you can look at those factors as being better for the environment,” Hirsch said. “We don’t have to drive to the store, we don’t have to support the industry that creates the chemical fertilizers and the chemical pesticides.”

Native plants aren’t only able to survive in the natural environment, but provide for the animals in the area. In the U.S., 150 million acres of natural habitat have been lost to urban sprawl and farmland, according to The National Audubon Society. Choosing native plants can provide a habitat for local animals such as birds, insects and other species.

Non-native plants need to be kept alive with more water and fertilizer and are a heavier load on natural resources. Invasive species of plants can dominate the area, pushing out native plants and taking over the habitat, Beth Chisholm with the Washington State University Whatcom County Extension told The Bellingham Herald in an email.

Native plants thrive with proper sunlight. Hirsch said people can check the King County Native Plant Guide if they want to learn more about how to care for native plants.