CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Gov. Jim Justice recently signed a proclamation to officially designate April 2023 as “West Virginia Native Plant Month.”

Gov. Justice signed the proclamation on Feb. 20, and the West Virginia Native Plant Society (WVNPS) and Kanawha Garden Club announced it Saturday, March 11.

West Virginia is among the first states to join the nationwide effort to raise awareness for the crucial role native plants play for our environment, wildlife and pollinators.

Over thousands of years, native plants have formed special relationships with local flora and fauna.

Non-native plants cannot serve as substitutes in these intricate environmental relationships. This is because local wildlife cannot evolve quickly enough to be able to eat unfamiliar foods from non-native plants.

Non-native plants also destroy pollinators’ habitats and food supply.

Advocates say the solution is to implement more native plants — including flowers with different blooming times, flower colors and shapes — across the country.

West Virginians can celebrate Native Plant Month by planting native trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses as well as restoring natural habitats and removing non-native plants. Additionally, organizations can host educational events and hands-on workshops.

The bipartisan National Native Plant Month resolution started in the United States Senate in 2021 and was renewed in 2023.

The WVNPS has worked for over 40 years to protect and preserve the Mountain State’s native plants. Similarly, the Kanawha Garden Club has educated people about horticulture, gardening, beautification, conservation, and the environment since 1921.