Native plants are plants that naturally thrive in our region. These plants require less water & maintenance in addition to providing beauty and wildlife benefits. Our tree & shrub department manager, Matt, is definitely our native expert and is sharing with us some of his thoughts on native planting:
Here in Eastern Tennessee, we are blessed to have the beauty of the Southern
Appalachian Mountains as our view. Each spring we adore all the plants waking up and
covering our native landscape with blooms spring through fall and miraculous fall color. The
importance of these plants goes way past their appearance, the habitat that these plants
provide for wildlife should be one of our top priorities.
In my landscape at home, I have found that these “wild” native plants that I have
planted for the birds and bees, provide exceptional beauty along with low maintenance! Most
mornings, my wife and I will walk through our gardens and count the bees and other pollinators
sleeping in/on our plants. We have noticed that the natives have always had more sleeping
bees than any of our exotic plants. This year the Common Milkweed has had the most.
In today’s plant market, we have so many options to choose from with dwarf forms of
our favorite natives to new cultivars with new colors of blooms or leaves, surely you can find a
space to incorporate a few into your landscape. A great example of a tough as nails low
maintenance native with tons of variety is the Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius).
The Ninebark is becoming one of my favorite plants to incorporate to new landscapes for many
reasons: deer resistant, colorful buds, colorful blooms, attractive seeds, purple or green or
amber foliage and tolerates almost any landscape location in our region. Another great reason
to incorporate native plants is how they require little to no maintenance once established.
I hope the beauty of our native plants find a way to your landscape as well.
In addition to the Ninebark, here are some other native plants to consider adding to your landscapes:
- Milkweed/Butterfly Weed (Nesting area & pollinator for Monarch butterflies)
- Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus)
- False Indigo (Baptisia Purple – deer resistant and attracts pollinators)
- Climbing Hydrangea
- Cinnamon Fern
- Switch Grass
- Wild Ginger
- Joe Pye Weed
- Red Chokeberry
- Black Chokeberry
- Witch Hazel
- Red/Sugar/Silver Maples
- River Birch
- Tulip Poplar
- Pin Oak
- New Jersey Tea
- Pink Steeplebush
- Flame Azalea
- St. John’s Wort
There are lots of species that will benefit natives such as butterflies, moths, bees, beneficial insects, birds, amphibians, & mammals. If you see these plants out in local areas, please don’t dig them up. Leave them for the local wildlife species and choose a nursery propagated plant instead.
We do hope you try adding a few native plants to your garden this season!