Native Plants for your Landscape

Why garden with native plants for your landscape?

Native plants for your landscape are adapted to your local climate and soil conditions. They may require less inputs when planted in their natural habitat and have evolved mechanisms to exist in your growing space. They will thrive once established in conditions that resemble their natural surroundings. Native plants provide nectar, pollen, seeds, and habitat for native butterflies, insects, birds, and animals.

Plant preservation is crucial as more habitats are destroyed by farming and development. It is important to select native plants for your landscape based on the region that the plants naturally occur. Planting a “North American native” could spell disaster if the plant naturally occurs on the upper east coast and is planted in the arid conditions of Nevada or Arizona. Care must always be taken when selecting native plants for your landscape to ensure that they will thrive in a particular climate.

These are some of our favorite Maryland native plants for your landscape:


(Read our post on the Difference between and annual and a perennial here)
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)– Bee balm comes in a variety of colors (purples, pinks, reds) and sizes (dwarf-tall). These plants attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and honeybees. Bee balm prefers moist, rich soil and sunny locations with some varieties reaching 4 feet tall. Dwarf varieties are also available for boarders and container gardening.
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)– Well known as Maryland’s state flower, these plants come in a variety of species including Rudbeckia hirta and Rudbeckia fulgida. Black Eyed Susans attract a variety of pollinators including butterflies and bees. They bloom from June until October with showy, yellow daisy like flowers with dark centers and are self-seeding. These hardy plants grow 1-3 feet tall and spread to form dense stands and hedges. Plant in full sun with moist, well drained soils.
Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)– Blazing Star is an erect plant with dense purple tufted flowers. The feathery looking flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. These plants grow up to 3 feet tall and bloom from July through September.
Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)– Blue Flag Iris prefer moist to wet conditions though they perform well in most gardens. Plants will spread through rhizomes and are self-seeding once established reaching 1-3 feet tall. Blue flowers form in May and attract hummingbirds. These plants can tolerate a variety of conditions and can even survive during periods of submergence.
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)– Butterfly Milkweed is known for its dense clusters of orange flowers. Also known as butterfly weed, Butterfly milkweed does not form a milky sap like other milkweeds. These plants bloom from May to September attracting butterflies (including Monarchs), bees, and hummingbirds. Butterfly weeds reaches 1-3 feet at maturity and should be planted with other midsized plants in well drained soils.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)– Cardinal flowers depend on hummingbirds for pollination due to their long, tube-like flowers. These plants bloom from May until October. Reaching 3-6 feet at maturity these showy red flowering plants can be used as a boarder backdrop or woodland hedge. Cardinal flowers prefer moist soil conditions. Many subspecies exist, so be sure to select one based on your climate.
Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)– Creeping phlox forms a carpet of color in early spring. These plants are low growing, only reaching 4-6 inches in height with up to 2 feet in spread. Creeping phlox are adaptable to a variety of soil types and prefer full sun but tolerate partial shade.
Hibiscus Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)– Rose mallow is a tropical looking herbaceous plant with flowers of white or pink. Flowers are pollinated by bees and attract hummingbirds and orioles. Checkered Skipper butterflies will also visit these plants. Plants grow 4-7 feet tall and can be divided into clumps when plants reach sizes that are not desirable.
Husker Red Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis)– Husker Red forms glossy maroon leaves and showy white flower panicles. The maroon and white contrast offers a prominent display that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Husker red prefers sunny locations with average to well drained soils and reach heights of 2-3 feet and spreads of 1-2 feet.
Walker’s Low Catmint (Nepeta faassenii)– Walker’s Low Catmint is prized for its dark blue/purple flowers. These plants are deer and rabbit resistant and thrive in harsh conditions. Plants have robust flowers that form in late spring and last through late summer. Pruning off spent blooms will result in a new flush of flowers.


Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)– Red chokeberries are white flowering with spring flowers giving way to summer berries. Flowers attract butterflies and honeybees with fruit eaten by a number of bird species in late winter. These shrubs grow 5-10 feet tall and prefer moist soils and full sun.
Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)– Clethra are available in several varieties with pink or white flowers. These shrubs are versatile in the landscape with uses including hedges, boarders, mass planting, and specimen plantings. Clethra mature to 6-8 feet tall and prefer moist, well drained soil and full sun. Robins, gold finch and warblers are attracted to the flower seeds with swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds often attracted to the mid-summer blooms.
Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)– Known for their large, white blooms. Smooth hydrangeas do not have blooms that change color with soil conditions. Soils should be slightly acidic and well drained. Partial afternoon shade is ideal for these hydrangeas.
Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginiana)– Virginia sweetspire are very showy during their spring bloom with 2-6-inch-long white flowers forming. Mass plantings put on a spectacular show during the bloom window. Plant in moist, slightly acidic soils with a minimum of 4 hours of direct sun per day.
Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)– Winterberry are renowned for their winter interest. After their leaves drop in Fall, these plants put on a show of bright red berries through winter. Dwarf varieites grow 3-4 feel tall with taller varieties reaching up to 10 feet. One male winterberry holly must be planted within 50 feet of females to ensure pollination for abundant fruit set. One male winterberry can pollinate up to 5 females.
Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)– Arrowwoods are easily grown in well drained soils with full sun to part shade exposure. White flowers for in May through June and give way to black/blue berries that are attractive to birds and other wildlife. Fall colors include shades of red, orange, and yellow.


Forest Pansy Red Bud (Cercis canadensis)– Forest Pansy Red Buds are prized for their dark red/maroon foliage and pink spring flowers. Leaves transition to green and then yellow in Fall. These trees have a mature height of 20-30 feet. Suitable for street, yard and boarder planting, these trees require little maintenance. Plant in well drained soil with full sun to light shade exposure.
Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)- White Fringetrees are slow growing and eventually reach a height of 12-20 feet. These trees are considered specimen trees that can be planted in groups, on boarders, or as stand alones. White, frangrant flowers form in late May to early June.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)– Serviceberries are small trees reaching heights of 6-20 feet. Sporting attractive bark, flowers, and fruit, these trees attract bluebirds, cardinals, and tanagers. Plant in acidic, well drained soils with full sun to partial shade exposure. Fall colors include vivid shades of red and gold.
Washington Hawthorne (Crataegus viridis)– Washington Hawthorne are excellent specimen trees for boarders and hedges. These thorny trees prefer well drained soils and full sun exposure. These trees have attractive white flowers that emerge in late spring. Washington Hawthornes are used as nesting sites for songbirds and their fruits are a food source for grouse.
Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)– Sweetbays are usually multistemmed trees that for white colored flowers with a strong lemon-rose scented aroma. These trees prefer wet, acidic soils and can tolerate shade.
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)– Bald Cypress grow into large trees with heights reaching 50-70 feet. These trees lose their leaves in the fall and maintain a pyramidal form with beautiful leaf texture and attractive bark. Adaptable to a variety of growing conditions including wet areas.
River Birch (Betula nigra)– River Birch are best suited for wet locations and grow 40-70 feet tall. Usually planted as multi-stemmed clumps, these trees are renowned for their unique bark.
Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)- Southern Magnolias are beautiful yard trees with leathery dark green leaves that last year-round. Flowers are a creamy white with a wonderful fragrance and form in late spring. These trees are very adaptable and reach heights of 60-80 feet.




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