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Homeowner issues warning about startling garden phenomenon that's not what it seems: 'Look underneath the leaves'

"Pristine plants are useless dead zones."

Hibiscus sawfly

Photo Credit: u/estelleflower / Reddit

A native plant gardener on Reddit recently showed readers a glimpse of a healthy garden ecosystem — even if it may look alarming at first glance.

Most modern gardening techniques call for killing bugs or keeping them away to get plants looking their best. But as this Redditor pointed out, growing native plants means the opposite.

Hibiscus sawfly
Photo Credit: u/estelleflower / Reddit

"Native plant gardening means your plants might look ugly when the native bugs find them!" they captioned the photos of their hibiscus and Turk's cap plants, with leaves so chewed up they look like lace. 

This didn't bother the Redditor, though, who agreed with a comment saying the leaves looked beautiful that way.

According to the Redditor, the cause was an insect species called the hibiscus sawfly. They shared a picture of the tiny black-and-orange bug, along with another photo of its larva, a long, green-and-yellow inchworm.

"Look underneath the leaves and you'll find the larva!" they wrote in a comment.

Like many native plant gardeners, this Redditor wants to support the local ecosystem. That means the plants aren't just there to be pretty; they provide vital food, shelter, and breeding grounds for bugs.

"Pristine plants are useless dead zones," said one commenter. "Plants that are chewed on, spit on, full of webs, are living communities and therefore beautiful and fascinating."

Those bugs, in turn, may pollinate flowers, break down rotting plant matter into rich soil, or simply serve as meals for something higher up the food chain. "This is great for birds," another commenter pointed out.

A fourth user replied, "Baby bird food."

Besides attracting bugs and birds, this style of gardening has many benefits. Homeowners don't need to spend time or money on applying pesticides if they welcome the bugs to the garden. Native plants are also adapted to the local environment, so they don't need much water or additional care. 

Homeowners who want to get started with native plants carefully chosen for their area can contact Yardzen for a custom landscaping design.

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