Gardeners living within the confines of New Jersey have a wide assortment of wild, native plant species suitable for use in their landscapes. Choices include everything from ferns, annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs. Wild, native plants are generally hardier and less problematic than their nonnative cousins are, as they are tolerant of the area's weather conditions. Many New Jersey wild, native plants are suitable for use as specimen accents in the garden and many attract butterflies and hummingbirds, creating an even more interesting garden accent.
Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) is a member in the family Acanthaceae. It grows wild throughout New Jersey's swamps, bottomland wooded areas and thickets. Native to the United States, the fern has plumelike foliage growing up to eight feet in height. It is a deciduous perennial, which begins its spreading habit after establishment in the area for approximately two years.
The fern grows best situated in areas receiving full to partial shade, as it will not do well grown in full sun conditions. Ostrich fern prefers a moist, well-drained soil medium. Due to its large size, the fern works well in shady gardens utilized as a specimen or as a background plant used in mixed gardens. The fiddlelike heads are edible.
Dense Blazing Star
Dense blazing star (Liatris spicata) belongs within the family Asteraceae. This perennial grows wild throughout New Jersey in its moist woodland forests, along marshy edges and in meadows. It has a clumping nature and long stems of purple flowers are borne on spikes in July throughout September. Plants grow three to four feet tall and have an erect growth habit.
Blazing star grows and flowers best situated in full sun, and it prefers growing in moist, well-drained soil mediums. It has average water requirements. Its colorful plumes attract butterflies and hummingbirds, making it suitable for use in butterfly, native and wildlife gardens. The plant works well used in borders and mixed gardens.
Wild bergamot (Mondarda fistulosa), also called beebalm, is a member within the family Lamiaceae. This attractive perennial grows wild throughout New Jersey's open forests and throughout moist woodland meadows. The attractive clusters of pom-pomlike flowers start blooming in late spring throughout September. Flower colors range across purples, pinks and white. Its foliage is grayish-green and the plant grows three to six feet tall.
Wild bergamot grows well planted in sunny to partially shady conditions in moist, well-drained soils. It has a medium drought tolerance but will look and grow best with regular watering. Plants attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant is suitable for use in butterfly, native and wildlife gardens as well as used in mixed gardens where a stunning display of color is required. The leaves are dried and used in the making of mint tea.