Native plants are those that naturally occur in a given area, and can be defined as those present before European settlement in North America. These plants are adapted to the local climate, soil, precipitation, and other plants and animals. Native plants are generally easier to care for than non-natives because they require less input such as water, pesticides, and fertilizer. They restore a balance to create a healthy environment and attract wildlife, such as birds and butterflies.
Choose native plants that are suited to the environmental conditions where they will be planted, based on the habitat for which they’re adapted. Once established, native plants shouldn’t need much, if any, supplemental water. Major native plant habitats include prairie, woodland, and wetland.
Prairies tend to be a bit drier with deep soil, rich in organic matter. Plants are mostly grasses and herbaceous perennials that enjoy full sun.
A woodland is a complex environment with an upper tree canopy layer, medium shrub layer, and a lower layer of shade-loving perennials.
Wetlands are either periodically flooded or the soil holds water most of the time at or below the surface, where aquatic plants thrive. Soil can simply be saturated, or somewhat submerged underwater.
Native Plants by Ecosystem
|Coreopsis palmata||Tickseed||Aquilegia canadensis||Columbine||Asclepias incarnata||Swamp Milkweed|
|Echinacea pallida||Purple Coneflower||Asarum canadense||Canadian Wild Ginger||Chelone glabra||White Turtlehead|
|Liatris spicata||Gayfeather||Carex pensylvanica||Pennsylvania Sedge||Eupatorium purpureum||Joe Pye Weed|
|Penstemon digitalis||Beardtongue||Geranium maculatum||Crane's-bill||Iris virginica||Virginia Iris|
|Monarda fistulosa||Beebalm||Phlox divaricata||Woodland Phlox||Lobelia siphlitica||Great Blue Lobelia|
|Geum triflorum||Prairie Smoke||Polemonium reptans||Jacob's Ladder||Parthenium intergrifolium||Wild Quinine|
|Allium cernuum||Nodding Onion||Polygonatum biflorum||Solomon's Seal||Physostegia virginiana||Obedient Plant|
|Sporobolus heterolepis||Prairie Dropseed||Thalictrum dioicum||Early Meadow Rue||Caltha palustris||Marsh Marigold|
|Solidago speciosa||Showy Goldenrod||Lobelia cardinalis||Cardinal Flower||Acorus calamus||Sweet Flag|
|Dalea purpurea||Purple Prairie Clover||Carex rosea||Rosy Sedge||Solidago flexicaulis||Zigzag Goldenrod|
Steps for Selecting Native Plants:
Determine Soil Type
Rub a small amount of moist soil between your thumb and fingers to feel its texture. A clay soil will be slick and smooth, whereas a sandy soil will be gritty and crumbly. A loam soil will be intermediate, feeling somewhat gritty, yet sticks together easily.
Determine Soil Moisture
The amount of moisture a soil contains varies based on the soil type and the soil’s proximity to the groundwater level. Moist soils are relatively close to groundwater levels, and dry and medium soils are relatively far from them. Moist soils can be any soil type that holds water continuously throughout the growing season. Dry soils, including sandy soil or soil that incorporate gravel, drain easily and rarely accumulate standing water even after a heavy rain. Medium or mesic soils, including clay and loam, may accumulate standing water and retain it for one to three days following a heavy rain, depending on the amount and intensity of the rainfall.
Plants have different light requirements making them suitable for different areas. Observe the area over time to see how much light it gets, how long it gets light, and when. Generally speaking, full sun plants need at least 6 hours of direct sun per day, and shade plants need less than 6 hours of direct sun per day. Afternoon sun (or a Southern or Western exposure) tends to be more intense, while morning or late afternoon sun (or a Northern or Eastern exposure) tends to be less intense.
Desired Height and Width of Plant
Determine the size you would like or what your space will allow when the plant is mature. There’s a plant of every size; some stay low to the ground and spread, while others grow tall and narrow, with everything in between.
There is no plant that blooms all summer long. Each plant has its own bloom period that usually lasts for about 2-4 weeks. In order to have blooms all summer, include plants that have different bloom periods to cover each time of the season.