Native Plants of Indiana

Indiana has native plants--from large trees to tiny wildflowers--that make excellent choices for a home landscape. They are well adapted to the area, used to the type of soil, and the birds and insects that do the pollination are native to the area as well. Bringing in plants that are not native to the area is not always a good idea. Some of them can grow out of control in an environment they are not used to and cause damage. On the other hand, they might not survive because they are not used to local conditions, and the wildlife they attract to aid in pollination might not be available. Native plants are the safe way to go.

Red Maple

Red maple (Acer rubrum and also called scarlet maple, swamp maple, soft maple, Carolina red maple, Drummond red maple and water maple) is a large tree that can grow 40 to 60 feet tall in a home setting and as tall as 120 feet in the wild. The bark on the young tree has a smooth, silver gray color and the leaves turn to bright red, yellow or green/yellow in the fall. The tree can tolerate most soils, as long as the soil is kept moist, and full sun to partial shade. It produces small red flowers and red/brown fruit and can take hot or cold temperatures.

Red or Easter Columbine

Red or Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis L.) is native to most of the eastern United States, including Indiana. It is a very adaptable plant, being able to take different types of soil and different lighting conditions as well, although it does best in partial shade to filtered sun. It will bloom in the late spring, producing 1- to 2-foot-long stems with red and yellow blooms that measure about 1 1/2 inches and hundreds of tiny, black seeds. Columbine attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.


Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a deciduous or leaf-shedding shrub that will grow to a height of 5 to 12 feet with a spread of 4 to 8 feet. It will produce bright green leaves that are about 6 inches long in late spring and tiny, fragrant, white flowers in early summer. The flowers will turn into hard nut-like fruits. The plant likes full sun to partial shade and moist soil. It can also do well in very wet soils, even in shallow water. Buttonbush makes a good choice for the shallow part of a pond and will attract both bees and butterflies.

Lance-Leaf Tickseed

Lance-leaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata L.) is an evergreen that grows to about 1 to 2 1/2 feet tall with leaves that are about 3 to 4 inches in length. The flowers have orange centers with orange or yellow daisy-like petals and measure about 1 1/2 inches across and grow one to each stem. The stems branch out from the bottom to produce whole colonies of flowers that will bloom in April, May and June. The plant is very adaptable when it comes to the type of soil, as long as it does not get too moist and is kept on the dry side. It can also grow in sun, shade or partial shade. The plant will attract butterflies.

Keywords: Indiana native plants, red maple, buttonbush

About this Author

Regina Sass is based in the Adirondack Region of New York State. She has been a writer for 10 years writing for publications in the real estate and retail industries. Online experience includes writing,advertising and editing for an educational web site. Sass is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.