5 Great Native Plants for Your Garden

Planning your summer garden? Consider incorporating some native plants this year!

Native plants – that is, plants that occur naturally in our region – are part of the balance of nature and have developed over hundreds or thousands of years right here in southwestern Ohio. These plants provide nectar and homes to our local pollinators – such as beautiful butterflies, hummingbirds and native (non-stinging!) bees – and help our ecosystem.

What does that mean to the gardener? They are *low-maintenance.* Yes, these are not plants that will need to be covered during a late frost or that will need careful watering or that will need to be replanted each year. Once they’re established, they will do what they’ve already been doing in our climate for hundreds or thousands of years: Thrive.

Here are five great native plants you can plant in your garden right now!

Purple coneflower
Purple coneflower. (Photo by Great Parks)

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Tall and striking, these pinkish-purple flowers will thrive in full sun, providing blooms from April all the way into September. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds and have special value to native bees.

Obedient Plant
Physostegia virginiana ‘Vivid,’ (Obedient Plant Vivid – F.D. Richards via Flickr.)

Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) This fascinating flower gets its name from its tendency to stay where you point it – that is, if you bend the stem, it will stay that way for some time! The pink to lavender flowers provide fall color to your garden and thrive in wet soil.

Dwarf larkspur
Dwarf larkspur in bloom. (Photo by Nikki Ferrell.)

Dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) – These pretty purple flowers will grow in moist, shady areas of your garden and are in bloom right now – you might even spot some on a Great Parks trail!

Wild red columbine
Wild columbine. (Photo by Suzanne Schroeter via Flickr.)

Wild red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) – These beautiful red and yellow perennials bloom in early spring and flourish in the shade. They will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and hawk moths, and finches and buntings love their seeds! This flower also does well in container gardens.  

A monarch butterfly lands on a common milkweed plant.
Common milkweed and monarch butterfly. (Photo by Great Parks.)

Milkweed (Family name Asclepiadaceae) Milkweed is so important and is a great addition to every native garden. Monarch butterflies use it exclusively for laying eggs, so it’s essential to their species survival, and the flowers are so pretty! Try a common milkweed for light pink flowers in full sun, swamp milkweed for wetter parts of your garden or butterflyweed for a pop of orange.

Want more ideas? Find the perfect natives for your garden in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s list of recommended native garden plants. You can narrow your search by state, shade/sun requirements, soil requirements and more.

Nikki Ferrell
Social Media Strategist