Gardening with exotic, foreign plants is exciting, but not always the best choice for the environment. Exotic plants may become invasive, threatening local flora by competing for space and nutrients. Native "tried and true" plants are a good choice for any American garden. There are plenty of American plants that are just as beautiful as any exotic tropical plant.
The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is an annual wildflower that holds the title of state flower of California. A native of the western United States, the California poppy can be seen growing throughout the West Coast along roadsides and in gardens. The low growing plant reaches an average height of about a foot, producing lacy sea green foliage and silky, brilliant orange flowers that are cup shaped. California poppy is extremely low maintenance and will look beautiful even if completely neglected. The plant does best in full, all day sunlight in USDA zones 5 to 10. The plant is extremely drought tolerant, and does best in well draining, even poor or infertile soils.
A native of eastern North America, American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a flowering shrub that reaches an average height of 10 to 15 feet, though it may be pruned to a more diminutive height. The plant boasts dense leaves and tiny clusters of fragrant white blooms, which appear throughout the summer. The plant is excellent as a specimen shrub in a woodland garden, or as a privacy hedge. American elderberry will grow in partial or full sunlight in USDA zones 4 to 9. The plant prefers a well draining soil, and plenty of water. American elderberry can handle brief periods of flooding, but not droughts. The shrub will attract butterflies with its flowers and birds with its fruits.
A member of the heath family, Florida hobblebush (Agarista populifolia) is a flowering evergreen shrub native to regions throughout the southeastern United States. The plant sports lance shaped, olive green leaves and delicately fragrant bell shaped white flowers, which appear in late spring. Florida hobblebush reaches an average height of about 12 feet, and has a loose, somewhat lanky habit. The plant will grow in partial or almost complete shade in USDA zones 7 to 9. Florida hobblebush prefers an acidic, moist soil, though it will tolerate brief periods of drought (and flooding). The plant works well as a low maintenance shrub in a wet or waterlogged area of the garden.