These small native plant guides cover general growing conditions as well as helpful tips and fun facts. They are listed in alphabetical order by scientific name. If you keep a file or binder to help organize your landscape planning, the quick cards may be a nice addition to your resource collection. I’ll continue to add more native plant species to the list, so check back from time to time. Need a larger size? Visit our Plant Facts page!
ANNUALS/BIENNIALS – ASTERS – EPHEMERALS – FERNS – GOLDENROD – GRASSES – MILKWEED – MINTS – MORE PERENNIALS – SEDGES – SHRUBS – VINES
These native wildflowers have a short lifespan, but provide vibrant color and often reseed themselves in the landscape. In some cases, you may not even realize that the parent plant has completed its lifecycle because the following spring numerous seedlings may have taken its place. Thus, colonies may seem to gradually shift and move from year to year. They are a very important source of pollen, nectar, and seeds for pollinators and other wildlife. It can also be beneficial to use annuals or biennials as pioneer species when trying to establish meadows, micro prairies, and other restoration projects.
There are many species of asters found in North America. Some thrive in full sun and dry conditions. Others can tolerate shade and moist soil. Find the one that works best for your site. In addition to providing a stunning accent in the garden, they provide essential late season food for bees and butterflies!
In early spring before the leaves have fully formed on the trees, you may find these stunning native wildflowers growing in the woods. Many appreciate the rich, deep loam of woodland soil. They provide a burst of color in an otherwise dreary landscape that is just waking up from a long winter nap. Native pollinators seek these wildflowers as they provide the necessary food to fuel them throughout the spring. By summertime, the plants will have gone to seed and lay dormant until the following year. Though ephemerals can take several years to germinate (and even longer to produce blooms), they are worth the wait!
Ideal for shade gardens, rain gardens, north-facing slopes, and other tough to plant areas! Ferns can be low-growing groundcovers or large impressive specimens. They are low-maintenance and require little care. Pair them with spring ephemerals to hide fading foliage and fill in gaps as summer progresses. Consider using them as “green mulch” options under trees/shrubs or to help stabilize woodland slopes.
There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding goldenrod. Believe it or not, this plant isn’t responsible for triggering seasonal allergies! Learn more about that here. It is a crucial late season source of food for many pollinators like migrating Monarch Butterflies! They also provide over-wintering birds with seeds. There are over 100 species of goldenrod in the US. While some can be spread enthusiastically, there are several that are quite well-behaved! With a little research you can find one that is just right for your landscape.
Most of us are familiar with ornamental grasses commonly found in large garden centers. Yet, exotic species provide little value to wildlife and they can even become an invasive nuisance that displaces indigenous species. Many native grasses are host plants for various butterfly species. Not to mention their seeds are sustenance for over-wintering birds and small mammals.
Milkweed is the only host plant of Monarch Butterflies. Without milkweed, these butterflies would not exist! In recent years, this boldly colored creature has suffered steep population declines. How can you help? Plant milkweed! There are over 100 species of native milkweeds in the United States. Find one that is indigenous to your area and help give local Monarch populations a boost! Keep in mind that once an adult butterfly emerges (ecloses) from a chrysalis, it needs a source of nectar nearby. Consider replacing a patch of lawn with a diverse pollinator garden that utilizes successional bloom times and provides nectar all season long!
The mint family (Lamiaceae) are a robust group known for being aromatic and very enthusiastic growers! Some may be a little too vigorous for smaller landscapes. Lamiaceae species include bee balms and many other colorful perennials that are characterized by square stems and opposite leaves. To simplify things, we’re only going to list those that have “mint” in their common name in this section. They are highly attractive to pollinators and are constantly buzzing with a diverse assortment of beneficial insects. Though they have been used historically in herbal remedies, teas, and more, always do your research before consuming any native plant!
Groundcovers, aquatics, herbs, host plants, pollinator favorites and more. Native perennials are a hardy bunch that reliably come back year after year. Once established, they rarely need supplemental watering and no added fertilizer is required in the landscape. Consider swapping out non-native flowers and cultivars and replacing them with some of these beautiful straight species. Even those considered “short-lived” will persist many years through annual reseeding. If you’d like to obtain free seedlings from your parent plants, consider only using natural mulch as dyed/bagged mulch can have weed inhibitors that negatively impact germination. For even more success, pull back a bit of the natural mulch to expose some soil at the base of the parent plant. Seeds that have good ground contact are more likely to germinate!
Looking very much like grass, sedges are a diverse group that can thrive in the toughest places! Some will grow well in dry shade under a tree while others can handle wet riparian areas. They provide great texture as a groundcover and are stunning when planted en masse. Not only do sedges offer protective cover for wildlife, their seeds are also a food source for game birds, waterfowl, and songbirds.
With hundreds of native shrub species throughout North America, finding the right one for your site can provide an important foundation for your landscape. Having diverse layers of plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers) is extremely beneficial to local wildlife. Many shrubs work well as understory specimens or natural hedges. When combined with trees and underplanted with perennials you can create a thriving ecosystem right in your own backyard! Native shrubs offer protection, nest sites, a place to perch, and food in the form of nutrient-rich berries, seeds, or even insects/caterpillars to feed their young. They are also important host plants that butterflies and moths rely on.
From dainty and petite to larger than life, you can find a native vine that meets your needs. They have a way of bringing color and life to a space. Use caution when planting vines near structures (fences, porches, etc). While some are well-behaved or lightweight, others may require an extremely substantial trellis and can have rather unruly behavior (ahem, Campsis radicans!). Some native vines have edible fruit that is a treat for both people and wildlife. Others can be fatal if consumed or cause mild skin reactions in people who are sensitive to them. When choosing a vine, keep in mind from the beginning that planting “the right plant in the right place” will save you a lot of frustration in the long run! Always do your research.
Need some ways to help spread native plant awareness? These post-card sized cards are perfect for relaying general information at a plant sale table. Perhaps consider attaching the goldenrod myth-busting card to a lovely pot of solidago at a plant swap!
Did You Know?
When you scan the QR code on an Arcadia Natives pot tag, it will take you to our website where you can quickly view the Plant Facts & Quick Cards for that species. Also, plants grown from local ecotypes will be marked as such.