Many plants growing wild in the woodlands, bogs and rocky hillsides of Michigan can also be grown in your garden. Gardening with native plants offers a variety of benefits to home gardeners. Plants native to your area have adapted to local conditions, making them relatively low-maintenance. Adding native plants to your garden attracts wildlife looking for both food and shelter and helps prevent the spread of invasive species.
The woodland perennial Arisaema triphyllum, commonly known as jack-in-the-pulpit, features large, long-stemmed leaves and a hooded green flower. Smaller leaflets form a canopy over the flower and clusters of red berries appear in the summer. Plant jack-in-the-pulpit in moist, nutrient-rich soil in a location that receives partial to full shade. These plants may go dormant in the summer if planted in a dry location.
Caltha palustris, or marsh marigold, grows in swamps and wetlands throughout Michigan. It features dark green leaves on thick, branching stems and reaches up to 24 inches tall. Vibrant yellow flowers appear in the spring. Marsh marigold works well in bog gardens or other areas where the soil remains wet. It prefers full sun or partial shade and nutrient-rich soil.
Clintonia borealis, or bluebead lily, grows wild in the forests of northern Michigan. It features clusters of green, shiny oblong leaves and small, drooping yellow-green flowers. In late summer, showy bright blue berries appear. Plant bluebead lily as a groundcover in a shaded woodland garden with moist soil. It performs best in the cooler summer temperatures of northern Michigan.
Physocarpus opulifolius grows wild on stream banks and woodland edges. Commonly known as ninebark, this deciduous shrub grows between 3 and 10 feet tall. Round clusters of white or pink flowers appear in the spring, followed by attractive red fruit in the summer. The exfoliating bark and arching branches of this shrub provide winter interest. Ninebark tolerates drought and will grow in a variety of soil types if planted in sun or partial shade.
Thuja occidentalis, commonly called arborvitae or white cedar, grows along rocky hillsides in Michigan. This aromatic evergreen shrub or small tree rarely reaches over 30 feet in cultivation. The spreading, dark green foliage turns yellow or brown in winter. The fruit and thick growth habit of arborvitae attracts birds looking for food and shelter. Arborvitae prefers alkaline soil but will adapt to wet or dry conditions in sun or shade.
Betula nigra, or river birch, grows wild along streams and in flood plains and swamps. This multi-trunked tree can reach up to 70 feet tall. Curling silvery bark reveals the orange-brown trunk as it peels away. Plant river birch in partial shade. It tolerates most soil conditions but performs best in wet soil.