LEAP Into the Garden with Native Plants




Using native plants in public and private landscapes and gardens can help reduce the threat of invasive non-native species to the region’s biodiversity.  The Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership's Native Plants of the Year campaign of the highlights native species that can make exceptional additional to area landscapes and gardens.  Native plants in the garden offer the following benefits:


  • Attract native wildlife
  • Reduce soil erosion
  • Require less fertilizer and watering
  • Promote native regional biodiversity
  • Thrive under natural conditions
  • Connect people to nature



LEAP Native Plants of the Year 2017

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

The Eastern Red Cedar is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree that thrives on dry soil in full sunlight. This aromatic tree is also winter hardy, salt tolerant and serves as an excellent windbreak. Northern Mockingbirds relish the berry-like bluish soft cones. (Photo courtesy of Judy Semroc)



Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa)

This Ohio native cactus thrives in hot and dry environments in full sun and is also winter hardy. The fleshy foliage of this plant adds a textural element to garden plantings and the readily available pollen and nectar attracts a variety of insects, especially honey and bumble bees. (Photo courtesy of Bill Hendricks)



Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

This erect, long-lived meadow plant is often grown for its showy flowers that bloom for up to two months in mid to late summer.  It is a favorite of many insect species as a nectar and pollen food source. Goldfinch and other song birds are fond of its seeds in the fall and into winter. (Photo courtesy of Judy Semroc)




About LEAP

The Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity (LEAP; www.leapbio.org) is a consortium of forty-six (46) conservation-related organizations located in Northeast Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York.  This ecoregion is the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau and is defined by a common glacial history.  LEAP member organizations are dedicated to the identification, protection and restoration of biodiversity in the region and to the increased public awareness of biodiversity.  Current LEAP members represent park districts, conservation organizations, universities, and governmental agencies in Northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania and own and manage over 300,000 acres of natural areas.  


About the LEAP Native Plant Promotion Committee (NPPC)

The NPPC was formed in 2008 in response to the threat of invasive plants to our natural areas.  The mission of the NPPC is to educate the public about the many benefits of native plants in the LEAP region and to join the nursery and landscaping trade in promoting the purchasing, selling, propagating and planting of our area’s native plant species.  In 2011 the Committee initiated a Native Plants of the Year campaign providing the gardener with three choices each year through 2022 of recommended native plants which are easily found in local nurseries. 


To find more information about the LEAP Native Plants of the Year (2011-2017) please visit here.


Also found on this page is a Native Plant Nurseries map created by Cleveland Metroparks that provides information on nurseries that sell native plants to our region. 


Find out more about LEAP and native plants on Petitti’s Garden Stage at the I-X Center during the Great Big Home and Garden Show (February 3-12).