Spring Has Sprung!
We’ve got 10 Native Plants that will make a great addition to your garden this year. Native plants help support our wildlife and ecosystems by providing nectar for pollinators, shelter for species like caterpillars, and food from their seeds for birds and other wildlife. It’s important to remember when selecting your plants to choose species that would be naturally found in our area to maintain a stable ecosystem for our watershed.
Bee Balm is a beautiful perennial that attracts bees (hence the name) and is highly aromatic as it is in the mint family. Bee Balm is often compared to Bergamont for its aroma (and Bergamont is another good native plant to consider). When in bloom, this plant can also attract hummingbirds, and in the fall months, it can provide seeds for birds. One great thing about Bee Balm is that deer and other animals tend to avoid eating it.
Joe Pye Weed is an exceptional pollinator for your garden. It attracts a variety of butterflies and bees. This plant does well in full and partial sun, and it looks stunning in the summer months when in bloom!
Purple Coneflower has many benefits to the ecosystem, as it attracts bees, butterflies, and other insects. Echinacea is often used for its medicinal benefits and can help support immune system function. This plant blooms from July through September and does best in full sun.
Trumpet Honeysuckle is a substitute for the invasive Bush Honeysuckle! These vines will bloom from June through August and are great for adding to a trellis or pergola. They are mildly fragrant and do a great job attracting butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
Not to be confused with the ginger root you cook with, wild ginger is native to our area and is a fantastic ground cover in shaded areas. It acts as a host plant for caterpillars and moths and is pollinated by ground insects like ants.
Berry bushes like Chokeberry are versatile because they are tolerant to many growing conditions and soil types. Let them grow tall to create privacy screens along property lines or plant them in woodland areas where soil may not be ideal. Chokeberry is an all-around great native plant because it is pollinator-friendly, provides shelter for wildlife, and is a food source for many different species. The berries are also non-toxic to pets and children, making them a safe addition to your yard or garden!
Bearberry and Elderberry are also great options!
Low Bush Blueberries are native to our area and grow in the wild. While this species is different from High Bush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) which is commonly used for commercial blueberries, it still produces edible berries! These bushes make excellent groundcover in full-sun areas with well-draining soil. It should come as no surprise that these berries provide an excellent food source for an abundance of wildlife…and you can enjoy them too!
Woodland sunflower is exceptionally tolerant to different growing conditions, ranging from partial shade to full sun. It will grow aggressively left on its own, so it would be ideal for lining driveways or wooded areas. Woodland Sunflower attracts a wide variety of bees, and it provides seeds for bird species in the fall.
Goldenrods are a vital late-season pollinator plant. Prior to winter, Honey bees often collect large amounts of goldenrod nectar. Varietals like the Seaside goldenrod (S. sempervirens) provide nectar sources for Monarch butterflies. It also has been studied for its medicinal benefits on digestion and joint health.
Asters provide late-season nectar for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. They will grow best in partial shade and semi-moist soil. Asters bloom from late summer to late fall, so now is a great time to pick some out at a local nursery to plant!
Colton is a volunteer for the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association.
“I would recommend to gardeners don’t do any clean up in fall and leave the dead plant material over winter. It may not look the best, but it’s a great way to attract wildlife. Many insects overwinter (shelter) in the dead hollow stems of plants, and birds can use the seed heads of flowers as food during the winter. Then in spring, gardeners can knock down the dead plant stalks and leave them on the ground as natural compost.” A few of his favorite native plants include Goldenrod and Asters.
Our Top Picks for Local Native Nurseries:
White Oak Nursery
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Amanda’s Native Garden
Dansville, NY 14437
Author: Samantha Joslyn