MOUNTAINSIDE — A gardener's paradise is coming to Union County next month.

A free “Native Plant Swap and Shop” in Union County is happening Thursday, June 9, for residents, at the Scout Camping Area in the Watchung Reservation, located at the Trailside Nature and Science Center on New Providence Road in Mountainside.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m., interested folks can trade in harmful, invasive plants from their yard for up to three colorful, native varieties that are more beneficial to nature. These native species such as swamp milkweed, blue wood aster, creeping phlox, narrow leaf sunflower, tall white beardtongue, and cardinal flower are designed to attract butterflies and other pollinators.

The swap and trade-in are free of charge. But more native plants will also be available for purchase at the event.

“The Swap and Shop is a fun way to start introducing beneficial native plants into your yard and garden. It has been a big hit with gardeners in our community, and we are delighted to bring it back this year,” said Union County Commission Chair Rebecca L. Williams.

Admission to the event is free. Attendees can stay as long as they like. They can bring any number of invasive plants from their yards. Examples of invasive plants to bring are Japanese barberry, pachysandra, butterfly bush, garlic mustard, porcelain berry, periwinkle, English ivy, and Chinese silvergrass.

Dig up the invasive plants with the roots included, if possible, and bring it in a sealed box or bag.

Expert naturalists will be on-site to provide guidance and information on gardening with native plants.

Residents don’t have to bring invasive plants from home to make a purchase at the event; only if they intend to swap.

Pre-registration is required online at ucnj.org/plant-swap.

For more guidance on gardening with native plants, download the free “Plant This, Not That” guide.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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Some of New Jersey's Native Plants

New Jersey has more than 2,000 native plants in the state. But 350 of them are in a searchable database at www.jerseyyards.org. Here are some native plants you can find in the Garden State, some perfect for hummingbirds and butterflies and others for yard beauty.