Native plants are so important when it comes to balancing our ecosystems, as they provide food and shelter to local wildlife, and attract pollinators while keeping away pests. If you want to help the environment, and want to have a beautiful landscape full of plants that will encourage birds and butterflies to visit while discouraging wildlife from nibbling on them, then native plants are for you! Check out this list of our favorite plants that are native to most of North America to find out which ones would be right for your garden. If you missed our blog on the importance of native plants, or just want to learn more about how native plants help our ecosystems, you can find more information here.
Coneflowers are known for their bright varying colors, as well as their prominent cone that gives them their name. Coneflowers are drought-resistant, easy to grow, and deer-resistant like all native plants, but we recommend them because of their versatility. These flowers come in a variety of colors, all with very fun names, and add a fun pop of color to any garden. Coneflowers attract bees and birds like goldfinches, which will feast on the seeds of the flowers you allow to deadhead. This means that you can go without pruning these lovely flowers, if you so choose! Check out the “Pow Wow Wild Berry,” “Flame Thrower,” or “Ruby Giant” to add some color to your landscape.
White sage is a plant native to the southwestern United States, and northern Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, white sage is not endangered, but it is illegal to harvest this plant from public areas. This plant is known widely for its medical properties and its use as an incense or spiritual cleanser, known as “smudging;” these are all derived from Native American traditions. It is particularly special for the Kumeyaay people, a sacred plant used for both food and medicine in the Kumeyaay traditions. Instead of purchasing this plant from “trendy” stores that most likely obtained this plant illegally, grow it in your own landscape!
The only species of aster that is native to North America, aromatic aster is commonly found in eastern and central United States. This particular species of aster is a native perennial wildflower that can grow to be up to 3 feet tall, adding some height and color to your landscape. This particular aster is adaptable to many conditions and soils, existing in prairies, bluffs, and woodland habitats. Traditionally, the root of the aster has been used to brew a tea that is said to treat fevers. Aromatic aster is particularly attractive to pollinators, including caterpillars and butterflies, because of its smell that gives it its name.
A perennial frequently used as a ground cover, creeping phlox is native to the lower 48 states as well as Canada. Phlox blooms in early spring and summer, showing off the white, pink, and purple flowers that make this plant stand out. Creeping phlox grows well even in the sandiest and rockiest of soils, and is a great option for erosion control, as it will grow as a ground cover on sunny or shady slopes. This means it also suppresses weeds! Like most native plants, creeping phlox does not attract deer to nibble on its flowers. However, the large quantity and sweet aroma of its flowers will attract butterflies to your home.
A flower that most Americans are familiar with, the black-eyed susan is a staple in garden from the upper midwest to the deep south. This common wildflower is uses often for a reason, which is that the classic yellow petals with a brown cone mimic a sunflower, and bring sunshine to any garden. The black-eyed susan boasts many purposes, as it is the Maryland state flower, was the inspiration for the colors of the University of Southern Mississippi, has been used for medicinal purposes in Native American tradition, and is known to attract many types of butterflies. Black-eyed susans are also well-known for being “pioneer” plants, which means that they are the first plant to grow back after a fire, large storm, or other natural occurrence.
A native conifer of the cypress family, juniper is commonly known for its use of flavoring the drink gin, as well as its berries being used in some culinary dishes. Juniper is native to almost all of the United States and Canada, as well as France and Denmark. Interestingly, juniper is commonly found as a tree in Europe, but is found as a low shrub in North America. This plant will bloom lovely yellow flowers in early spring, and grows best in rocky areas of mountains and plains. While juniper can be used for tea as well as flavoring drinks and dishes, which makes it considered an herb, the leaves and cones of this plant are poisonous in large amounts. However, juniper berries feed many types of wildlife, and attract a wide variety of birds; this includes the robin, mockingbird, and purple finch.
This plant was featured in our blog about plants that keep your landscape looking colorful in winter–if you missed it, you can read it here. This species of dogwood is native to almost all of the United States and Canada, as well as France. Red-twig dogwood is well-known for its green foliage and signature white berries in the spring and summer, which transition to the striking red branches it boasts in the fall and winter. While deer are typically attracted to dogwood, it also attracts birds and butterflies such as the American snout butterfly, robins, and blue jays. Red-twig dogwood can grow from anywhere between 6 to 12 feet tall, and so may need an occasional pruning to keep it to a preferred height.
Native plants are essential factors for maintaining balance in our ecosystems, and we can help contribute by simply planting some of these beautiful native plants in our landscapes. If you are planning on planting a plant which you do not know much about, it is important to do your research to ensure that you are not welcoming a harmful, invasive species into your yard. To learn more about native plants, visit your local botanical garden for information on what plants are native to your region, and how they can help our environment.