From the Garden: Native Plants in the Garden

By Erin McKenna Breglia

Native plants are adapt­ed to the local cli­mate and soil con­di­tions where they nat­u­ral­ly occur. In addi­tion to sup­port­ing pol­li­na­tors and oth­er wildlife, native plants are inher­ent­ly sus­tain­able because they require less water­ing and fer­til­iza­tion than most non-natives. At Lan­dis, we rely com­plete­ly on Moth­er Nature to sup­ply rain, so native plants are a great fit. Look­ing at the vast vari­ety of bloom­ing wild­flow­ers in fields and along road­sides, it may seem dif­fi­cult to choose which of these natives to grow in a garden. 

There are many that might com­ple­ment your site. 

Serena Drobnik
Ser­e­na Drobnik

For exam­ple, a great spring bloomer is Bap­tisia aus­tralis, blue false indi­go. A peren­ni­al that grows into a small round­ed shrub-like shape of 3’x3’ and pro­duces stems lined with indi­go flow­ers, the Bap­tisia is not only unique in flower col­or, but also impor­tant for native bees. In fall, large brown seed pods devel­op on the stems and cre­ate a fun rat­tle sound when shak­en, a child’s delight!

Ascle­pias tuberosa, but­ter­fly weed, is one of the pret­ti­est native plants, boast­ing long last­ing blooms of bright orange flow­ers that attract the monarch but­ter­fly through­out its life cycle. One thing to note is this plant is very late to come up in the spring, and with­out mark­ing its loca­tion, you can eas­i­ly mis­take it for a weed. It is very easy to grow and extreme­ly low main­te­nance, a true joy in any gar­den, espe­cial­ly when the monarch but­ter­fly stops by!

A few oth­er love­ly native plants are Monar­da fis­tu­losa, bee balm, which has laven­der flow­ers and can grow in shady areas while tol­er­at­ing most soil con­di­tions. Also of inter­est are Lobelia siphi­lit­i­ca, great blue lobelia, and its rel­a­tive, Lobelia car­di­nalis, car­di­nal flower. Great blue lobelia is pol­li­nat­ed by bees that often sleep inside the flower buds, giv­ing it the name hon­ey bee hotel.” The car­di­nal flower is one of the truest red flow­ers found in the plant king­dom and depen­dent on the ruby-throat­ed hum­ming­bird for pol­li­na­tion, anoth­er plus for hav­ing it in your garden! 

There are plen­ty of fall bloom­ing native plants to enjoy, such as vari­eties of Asters and Hele­ni­ums. Often self-seed­ers, these plants can eas­i­ly be pulled out if they are found grow­ing in unde­sir­able spaces, though they are an impor­tant late sea­son food source for bees and oth­er insects. 

As the work in the gar­den con­tin­ues this sea­son, one thing is sure: we real­ly enjoy get­ting togeth­er at the Arbore­tum and talk­ing plants. Cheers to a great crew of vol­un­teers — and to native plants in the garden!

Fall 2021

Volume 39 , Number 3

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