More About Who’s got the gardening itch?

by Jane Marlow
Mid-Atlantic friends!
Who’s got the gardening itch? 🙋‍♀️The nurseries, home improvement stores, and even Walmart are starting to push their leafy wares and the temptation to throw a couple (dozen) new flowering friends in your cart is strong!
But you might notice that everywhere you go, you see the same old plants. Crepe myrtle, Japanese azalea, knockout roses, butterflybush, bearded iris, hosta… you see them on every store and in every yard. Don’t get me wrong - these plants have some appealing qualities like being pretty, reliable, and easy to grow, but they also do little to support native pollinators, can negatively impact natural ecosystems, and are so overused in the landscape they are downright boring. Big box plant selections, ya basic. 🤦‍♀️
Looking to add some interesting variety to your garden while supporting our birds, bees, and butterflies? Look no further! I’ve created a little guide to selecting native plants based on the appeal of your standard nursery fare. Each category has examples of commonly used plants, followed by alternatives that are more nature-friendly. Happy planting!
First, some plant shopping tips:
🌱 Avoid impulse-buying plants based on flowers or foliage - this is a sure way to bring home invasives or plants that won’t thrive in your location. Research the plant and its needs before buying.
🌱 Don’t depend on nursery signs - they can contain misleading information. Good resources for research include wildflower.org and garden.org. USDA PLANTS Database and BONAP can help determine if a plant is native to your region.
🌱 Support local nurseries instead of big box stores. Don’t let major chain stores be your first thought for plants.
🌱 Never buy a plant that is unlabeled by species and you can’t readily identify (example: “summer annual quart” “assorted fern”). This is an easy way to take home an invasive.
🌱 NEVER EVER EVER BUY these commonly-sold plants:
- English ivy
- creeping jenny
- liriope
- vinca/periwinkle
- pachysandra
- ornamental pears
- Japanese/Chinese wisteria
- butterflybush
- bamboo
- creeping euonymus
- Japanese honeysuckle
- Asian euonymus/burning bush
- nandina
- Chinese privet
- autumn-olive
- Japanese barberry
- sweet autumn clematis
If you screwed up and already bought these or inherited them from a former owner, put them on your list for destruction. Yes, even the butterflybush. Yes, it is spreading its seeds into the wild. Yes, your plant.
🌿🌳🌸NATIVE ALTERNATIVES GUIDE🌸🌳🌿
🌱GROUNDCOVER🌱
If you like:
- English ivy
- Vinca/periwinkle
- Japanese pachysandra
- lesser celandine
- creeping jenny
- ajuga/bugleweed
- liriope
Instead, try planting:
- Barren strawberry
- moss phlox
- golden ragwort
- common blue violet
- Allegheny spurge
- woodland stonecrop
- Virginia creeper
🌸SPRING-FLOWERING TREES🌸
If you like:
- ornamental cherries
- pear
- saucer magnolia
- star magnolia
Instead, try planting:
- eastern redbud
- American plum
- black cherry
- shadbush/serviceberry
- American pussywillow
- spicebush
- flowering dogwood
🌿VINES🌿
If you like:
- Japanese wisteria
- Chinese wisteria
- clematis
- English ivy
- Japanese honeysuckle
- morning glory
Instead, try planting:
- coral honeysuckle
- trumpet creeper
- American wisteria
- Virginia creeper
- crossvine
- American Dutchman’s pipe
🌹FLOWERING SHRUBS🌹
If you like:
- Forsythia
- Japanese azalea
- lilac
- Asiatic viburnums
- cultivated roses
- “snowball” hydrangeas
- Japanese spirea
- rose of Sharon
- butterfly bush
- flowering quince
Instead, try planting:
- Virginia sweetspire
- smooth hydrangea
- summersweet/clethra
- American spirea
- pinxterbloom azalea
- mountain laurel
- buttonbush
- arrowwood viburnum
- possumhaw
🌳LANDSCAPING SHRUBS🌳
If you like:
- boxwood
- Japanese barberry
- Chinese arborvitae
- spotted/English laurel
- Asian euonymus/burning bush
- Asiatic and European hollies
- privet
Instead, try planting:
- inkberry
- winterberry
- lowbush blueberry
- Virginia sweetspire
- shrubby St. John’s wort
- eastern arborvitae
- eastern redcedar
🍁FALL COLOR🍁
If you like:
- Asian euonymus/burning bush
- Japanese maple
- kousa dogwood
- ginkgo
Instead, try planting:
- Virginia sweetspire
- flowering dogwood
- native hickories
- red maple
- sweetgum
- black gum
- eastern redbud
- red osier dogwood
- ninebark
- fragrant sumac
- staghorn sumac
- shining sumac
- Virginia creeper
🌺SUMMER BLOOMS🌺
If you like:
- crepe myrtle
- butterfly bush
- daylily
- dahlia
- zinnia
- Shasta daisy
- peony
- sunflower
- cosmos
- gaillardia
- begonia
- canna lily
- bearded iris
- delphinium/larkspur
- geranium
- gerbera daisy
- cultivated roses
- hosta
- “snowball” hydrangea
Instead, try planting:
- black-eyed susan
- oxeye sunflower
- cutleaf coneflower
- cardinalflower
- great blue lobelia
- Joe Pye weed
- tall coreopsis
- narrowleaf sunflower
- threadleaf coreopsis
- blue mist flower
- butterfly milkweed
- swamp rosemallow
- blue flag iris
- scarlet beebalm
- wild bergamot
- New England aster
- New York ironweed
- showy goldenrod
- sneezeweed
- blazing star/gayfeather
- summersweet/clethra
- smooth hydrangea
🌿SHADE LOVERS🌿
If you like:
- hosta
- brunnera
- hellebores
- Japanese painted fern
- Chinese ginger
Instead, try planting:
- Christmas fern
- hay-scented fern
- cinnamon fern
- American ginger
- common blue violet
- American heuchera
- foamflower
- white wood aster
- Virginia creeper
🌳SPECIMEN TREES🌳
If you like:
- Japanese maple
- ornamental cherries
- kousa dogwood
- saucer magnolia
- star magnolia
- ginkgo
- crepe myrtle
Instead, try planting:
- Eastern redbud
- sweetbay magnolia
- river birch
- American witch-hazel
- paw paw
- sassafras
- American plum
- spicebush
- flowering dogwood
- shadbush/serviceberry
🔴PRETTY BERRIES🔴
If you like:
- Nandina
- European/Asian hollies
Instead, try planting:
- winterberry
- American holly
- American beautyberry
- arrowwood viburnum
- possumhaw
🌺HUMMINGBIRD ATTRACTORS🌺
If you like:
- butterflybush
- petunia
- foxglove
- daylily
- lantana
- artificial feeders
Instead, try planting:
- cardinalflower
- scarlet beebalm
- trumpet creeper
- coral honeysuckle
- crossvine
- eastern red columbine
- pinxterbloom azalea
🦋BEE AND BUTTERFLY ATTRACTORS🦋
If you like:
- butterflybush
- baby’s breath
- China aster
- calendula
- bachelor’s button
- cosmos
- Mexican sunflower
- snapdragon
- sweet William
- herbs
- zinnia
- marigold
- zinnia
- Shasta daisy
Instead, try planting:
- mountain mint
- blue mistflower
- New York ironweed
- Joe Pye weed
- swamp milkweed
- butterfly milkweed
- false blue indigo
- New England aster
- aromatic aster
- black-eyed susan
- wild bergamot
- shrubby St. John’s wort
- golden alexanders
- sneezeweed
- showy goldenrod
- summersweet/clethra
🌷SPRING EPHEMERALS🌷
If you like:
- daffodils/jonquils
- tulips
- hyacinth
- star of Bethlehem
Instead, try planting:
- Virginia bluebells
- mayapple
- trout lily
- bloodroot
🪴ROCK GARDEN/CONTAINERS🪴
If you like:
- sedum
- cacti
- yucca
- hens-and-chicks/sempervivum
- creeping thyme
- ice plant
Instead, try planting:
- woodland stonecrop
- Allegheny stonecrop
- eastern prickly pear
- moss phlox
- nodding onion
- Adam’s needle
💧POND PLANTS💧
If you like:
- water hyacinth
- parrot feather
- water lettuce
- water lilies
- corkscrew rush
- creeping jenny
Instead, try planting:
- pickerel weed
- American giant water lily
- hornwort/coontail
- blue flag iris
- cardinalflower
- arrowhead
🫐BONUS! EDIBLE NATIVES🫐
- black raspberry
- American plum
- paw paw
- shadbush/serviceberry
- American hazelnut
- American persimmon
- lowbush and highbush blueberry
- American elderberry (after boiling)

Date & Time

June 27, 2022

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