Native Plants

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.

Prairie

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.

Woodland

A woodland is a complex environment with an upper tree canopy layer, medium shrub layer, and a lower layer of shade-loving perennials.

Wetland

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
Prairie
Woodland
Wetland
Botanical Name
Common
Name
Botanical Name
Common Name
Botanical Name
Common
Name
Coreopsis palmataTickseedAquilegia canadensisColumbineAsclepias incarnataSwamp Milkweed
Echinacea pallidaPurple ConeflowerAsarum canadenseCanadian Wild GingerChelone glabraWhite Turtlehead
Liatris spicataGayfeatherCarex pensylvanicaPennsylvania SedgeEupatorium purpureumJoe Pye Weed
Penstemon digitalisBeardtongueGeranium maculatumCrane's-billIris virginicaVirginia Iris
Monarda fistulosaBeebalmPhlox divaricataWoodland PhloxLobelia siphliticaGreat Blue Lobelia
Geum triflorumPrairie SmokePolemonium reptansJacob's LadderParthenium intergrifoliumWild Quinine
Allium cernuumNodding OnionPolygonatum biflorumSolomon's SealPhysostegia virginianaObedient Plant
Sporobolus heterolepisPrairie DropseedThalictrum dioicumEarly Meadow RueCaltha palustrisMarsh Marigold
Solidago speciosaShowy GoldenrodLobelia cardinalisCardinal FlowerAcorus calamusSweet Flag
Dalea purpureaPurple Prairie CloverCarex roseaRosy SedgeSolidago flexicaulisZigzag 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.

Determine Exposure

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.

Blooming Period

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.