Native Plants in the Home Landscape

There are numerous advantages to incorporating native plants into a home landscape. Along with helping to propagate your particular region's plant species, some of which may be on the decline, using native species also helps benefit wildlife that use such plants for food and protection. Natives are also generally easier to care for than exotic types because they have already adapted to particular climates without human intervention.

American Elderberry

This deciduous bush grows from 6 to 12 feet high and forms a rounded shape. Its white, fragrant flower clusters are from 6 to 12 inches in diameter. American elderberry grows from Texas north to Canada, and in other western states. Grow this bush for its tart, dark purple berries, which are used to make wine, jelly and for pie filling. Wildlife also eat the berries, which mature in the summer. Plant bare rootstocks or rooted cuttings in early spring. Choose a site that receives full sun and has rich, well-drained soil.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed is native to the eastern and northern U.S. regions and is hardy to USDA zones 4 through 9. This herbaceous perennial grows from 4 to 7 feet tall and features tiny dusty pink blooms that appear in clusters in midsummer to early fall. The nectar-laden flowers attract butterflies. Plant it in an area that receives full sun or part shade, and in moist soil that drains well.

Cardinal Flower

This wildflower is a perennial that grows up to 6 feet tall. The spiky red flowers, which attract butterflies, birds and hummingbirds, have three lower and two upper petals that are connected by a tube. They bloom from May through October. Cardinal flowers grow throughout the United States and in Canada. They do not have particular light requirements, but grow best in rich soil that remains wet or moist. Grow them from seeds which have been cold stratified for 3 months.

Great Blue Lobelia

This showy perennial, a blue counterpart to the cardinal flower, is native in several U.S. states, from Colorado to Maine. It grows from 1 to 3 feet tall and features bright blue blooms that appear in late summer and attract hummingbirds. It has no specific shade requirements and can grow in clay, loam or sandy soil. But it requires consistently moist soil to thrive. Cultivate cold-stratified seeds onto the soil's surface, or divide clumps of flowers and plant them in the spring.

Red Maple

Red maple trees grow throughout North America. They can reach up to 90 feet tall and usually grow no longer than 150 years, reaching maturity in 70 to 80 years. Grow it in a home landscape as a shade tree. Plant red maple seeds or seedlings in well-drained soil and in full sun; this species grows in a wide variety of soil types, although it prefers moist areas.

Keywords: native plants, home landscape, native plant landscaping

About this Author

Joy Brown is a newspaper reporter at "The Courier" and www.thecourier.com in Findlay, Ohio. She has been writing professionally since 1995, primarily in Findlay and previously at the "Galion (Ohio) Inquirer" and "Toledo City Paper." Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and history from Miami University.