Choose the Perfect Plant

This online tool is designed to help you find the native plants best-suited for specific sites that provide the greatest ecological function and benefit, and that will also complement your Cape Cod landscape design. Using the dropdowns below, you have the ability to find plants based on these six criteria: Plant Type, Sunlight, Soils, Bloom Month, Size, and Nature Benefits. Based on your choices, the results will automatically populate.

Virgin’s Bower

Virgin’s Bower

Clematis virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Vine
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: White in July, August, September
Size: 3-8 feet in height; 3-5 foot spread

The most common clematis in New England, Virgin’s Bower, is a fast-growing climbing vine. It can also naturalize as a ground cover. Clusters of feathery flowers spread along the length of the vine and can be all male, all female, or all perfect (both male and female reproductive parts).

Garden Companions

Best to give it something to climb like a trellis or fence.

Nature Benefits

• Attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds.
• Foliage used for nesting birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, shores of rivers or lakes, thickets, swamps.

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Foam Flower

Foam Flower

Tiarella cordifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Average, well-drained
Bloom Time: White in May, June
Size: 3-12 inches in height; 12-24 inch spread

Foam Flower makes an excellent ground cover, border, or filler for shady, woodland sites. It spreads by underground stems to form colonies and is a good alternative to mulch or lily-of- the-valley. After the spring blooming flower spikes have passed the leaves provide texture and color year-round.

Garden Companions

Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra culcullaria), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, swamps, wetland margins.

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Trumpet Honeysuckle

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Lonicera sempervirens

Growing Information

Plant Type: Vine
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: Red in May, June
Size: 4-15 feet in height; 4-8 foot spread

Also called Coral Honeysuckle, the twining vine is a good choice for a trellis or other support structure or as a ground cover. Its tubular red flowers begin to bloom in late spring and continue blooming intermittently through summer in full sun and organically rich soil. Native to the southeast, NE populations are thought to be garden escapees. A common cultivar is “Major Wheeler” shown here.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Pink Tickseed (Coreopsis rosea)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for Spring Azure, Snowberry Clearwing Moth.
• Flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
• Fruit attracts birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, roadsides, woodlands.

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Photos

Sassafras

Sassafras

Sassafras albidum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, dry to wet
Bloom Time: Yellow in April, May
Size: 6-15 feet in height; 6-15 foot spread

Plant or save Sassafras for texture and to attract wildlife. It has a sweet, fruity aroma and provides vibrant fall color ranging from red to orange to yellow. It can sucker into a small grove but is easily controlled. It is dioecious meaning the plant either has male or female flowers and only the female plant produces fruit. Until 1960 when banned for containing carcinogenic safrole, the roots and root bark provided sassafras tea and were used to flavor root beer.

Garden Companions

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica), Wavy Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for butterflies and moths including Spicebush Swallowtail and Promethea Silk Moth.
• Birds feed on the fruit.
• Attracts a variety of pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, forest edges, roadsides.

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Photos

White Pine

White Pine

Pinus strobus

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time: Insignificant
Size: 60-90 feet in height; 25-40 foot spread

Commonly found, White Pines grow reasonably rapidly, are tall, and have soft evergreen needles in bunches of 5, making it a good shade tree. Seedlings are more shade-tolerant than most pines and trees are long-lived, up to 450 years.

Garden Companions

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina), Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nesting habitat for Bald Eagles, cavity-nesting and other birds
• Songbirds and small mammals eat the seeds
• Caterpillar host for the Eastern Pine Elfin and Pine-devil Moth

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, forest edges, swamps, woodlands

Download Plant Datasheet

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade, shade
Soils: Average, wet
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in late October, November, December
Size: 6-15 feet in height; 6-15 foot spread

Witch Hazel works well as a border plant, understory companion or specimen. Its frilly flowers bloom as leaves are dropping in the fall with golden foliage displays. The flowers are aromatic, and the fruit ejects its seeds as far as 30 feet from the parent tree. A Chinese hybrid flowers the wrong time of year, so don’t be fooled and seek out the straight native species.

Garden Companions

American Holly (Ilex opaca), Maple-leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), Pasture Rose (Rosa Carolina), Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Nature Benefits

• Birds eat the fruit and seed.
• Caterpillar host to caterpillars of these moths: Bethune’s Pinion, Drexel’s Datana.

Native Habitat

Occurs in floodplains, forests, swamps.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Lowbush Blueberry

Lowbush Blueberry

Vaccinium angustifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun, part shade
Soils: Dry to moist, Average
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Grow lowbush blueberry in a rock garden or woodland setting. Blueberries are edible and the foliage is attractive and especially vibrant in fall. Thrives in moist, highly organic, well-drained, acidic soil, but can also grow in shady, dry soils that are barren of other plants.

Garden Companions

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Intermediate Fern (Dryopteris intermedia)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the Brown Elfin butterfly.
• Pollen and nectar source for a variety of bees and other insects.
• Offers fruit for mammals and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest understory, upland bogs, pastures.

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Photos

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Moist, rich to average
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: Size: 2-4 feet in height; 2-3 foot spread

A vase-shaped clump of green leaves provides height and texture to a woodland garden, pond edge, bog garden, or wetland. The cinnamon-colored fertile fronds grow upright out of the center of the plant. Tolerates some sun if soil kept moist. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Nature Benefits

• Downy wool used by hummingbirds and other birds as nest lining.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland edges.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Ostrich Fern

Ostrich Fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Moist, rich
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: Size: 2-3 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

Ostrich Fern fronds look like ostrich feathers and provide a striking bright green display as a background planting. The tall size of this fern allows use as a foundation planting on the northern side. With rich moist soils in a shady location, it can form a colony. Fiddleheads are edible. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for several moth species.
• Fiddleheads offer food for herbivores.

Native Habitat

Occurs in rich woods, swamps, river or lake shores.

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Photos

Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose

Oenothera biennis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun to shade
Soils: Dry, sandy
Bloom Time: Yellow in July, August, September
Size: Size: 2-6 feet in height; 3 foot spread

The lemon-scented large yellow flowers open in the evening and close by noon. Grows vegetatively its first year then flowers its second year but does not persist. Seeds germinate if soil is disturbed. Can become weedy but it is an important native plant with a long and late bloom time supporting many insects. Drought tolerant and good for naturalizing.

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the pink Primrose Moth (Schinia florida).
• Attracts wide variety of other moths, birds, hummingbirds and specialized bees.
• Birds eat seeds – especially goldfinches.
• Small mammals eat roots and leaves.

Native Habitat

Occurs in meadows, fields, floodplains, river or lake shores.

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Photos

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry

Fragaria virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May, June
Size: Size: 2-5 inches in height; 12-24 inch spread

A fast-spreading ground cover which suppresses the establishment of invasive species, Wild Strawberry tolerates foot traffic. Tasty edible fruit appear in early to mid-summer. This species is one of the parent plants to cultivated strawberries.

Garden Companions

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum), Sessile-leaved Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Nature Benefits

• Supports 75 species of moths and butterflies.
• Provides food for caterpillars and nectar for adult insects.
• Flowers accessible to short-tongued bees.
• Fruits attract chipmunks, squirrels, and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in meadows and fields.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Beach Plum

Beach Plum

Prunus maritima

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May
Size: Size: 3-6 feet in height; 3-6 foot spread

Plant in a sunny, sandy site as a shrub border, wild hedge, foundation planting, or ornamental. Beach Plum provides showy displays of white flowers in spring. Cross pollination is needed to produce the flavorful fruit, which is used to make jams and jellies or feed wildlife. Beach Plum is a rounded, dense, suckering shrub member of the rose family. Drought tolerant. Salt spray tolerant. Does not like to be crowded by other plants. Beach plum is quintessential Cape Cod!

Garden Companions

American Beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata), Beach Pea (Lathyrus maritimus), Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Evening Primrose (Oenothera perennis), Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts butterflies, moths, birds, and bees.
• Fruit feeds wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in sandy openings near the coast, dunes, meadows, fields.

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Photos

Rose Mallow

Rose Mallow

Hibiscus moscheutos

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Wet, average
Bloom Time: White to pink with dark centers in July, August, September
Size: 3-6 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

Shrub-like growth, mallow can be planted as a late summer living fence, in a wetland edge, or rain garden. Dramatic large flowers last only one day, but once established a clump of Rose Mallow will flower for weeks. Also called Swamp Mallow.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Sweet Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Nature Benefits

• Rose Mallow bee (Ptilothrix bombiformis) only collects pollen from this and a few other Hibiscus species.
• Attracts hummingbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in borders of saline and brackish marshes wetlands.

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Photos

Royal Fern

Royal Fern

Osmunda regalis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Wet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: 24-42 inches in height; 24-36 inch spread

Plant Royal Fern as a visual attraction in a moist to wet woodland or native shade garden. In spring the red fronds unfurl then mature to orange then green. Fertile fronds grow late in the season. Great fall color of gold and brown. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Blue flag (Iris versicolor), White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Nature Benefits

• Multiple plants provide protective cover for animals and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in swamps, shorelines, riparian forests.

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Photos

Woodbine

Woodbine

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Vine
Sunlight: Full sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: May, June, although flowers are inconspicuous
Size: 30 feet in height

Also called Virginia Creeper and American Ivy. The vine has adhesive pads that enable it to climb. It will also crawl as groundcover. It provides exceptional red fall color.

Garden Companions

Best grown on trellis, garden arbors or fences.

Nature Benefits

• Blue or black berries are important fall and winter food for songbirds and game birds.
• Berries are also eaten by small mammals.
• Host plant for the Pandora sphinx moth caterpillar, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Native Habitat

Occurs in woodland edges, roadsides and open forests.

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Photos

Baptisia

Baptisia

Baptisia australis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: Blue flowers in May, June
Size: 3-5 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

In the legume family, also called Wild Blue Indigo and Blue False Indigo. Flowers are pea shaped. Foliage is bluish green. Drought and salt tolerant. Does well in the Cape’s poor soils. Dark seed pods are good for winter interest in the garden used in dried flower bouquets.

Garden Companions

Yellow Baptisia (Baptisia tinctoria), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Nature Benefits

• Attractive to butterflies, bees, and other insects.
• Is a larval host plant for a variety of butterflies including: Orange Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Frosted Elfin, Eastern Tailed Blue, Hoary Edge, and Wild Indigo Duskywing.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, shady upland woods, and wetland edges.

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Photos

Bearberry

Bearberry

Viburnum dentatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average to dry moisture
Bloom Time: White to pinkish bell-shaped flowers in April, May
Size: 12 inches tall, spreading to 15 feet

Woody plant that is slow growing but can form large mats in the toughest of places. Technically speaking, it is a sub-shrub and is also called kinnikinick, sandberry, and hog cranberry.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Eastern Woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Birds and mammals eat the fruit.
• Host plant for several butterfly species including Hoary Elfin and Brown Elfin.

Native Habitat

Occurs in roadsides, bog roads, dune edges and woodland edges.

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Photos

Arrowwood

Arrowwood

Viburnum dentatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June
Size: 6-10 feet in height; 5-10 foot spread

Upright growing shrub that turns shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. It can be used for borders, hedges or screens, or as mass plantings and groupings, foundation plantings, or as a backdrop to a pollinator or wildlife garden. Fruits are dark blue. If you must prune, do so immediately after flowering since flower buds form in the summer for the following year.

Garden Companions

Eastern Wood Fern (Dryopteris marginalis), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts Red Admiral, Eastern Comma and Question Mark butterflies
• Host plant providing food for the caterpillar stage of Spring Azure Butterfly and Hummingbird Moth.
• Fruit is food for a variety of songbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, shady upland woods, and wetland edges.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Inkberry

Inkberry

Ilex glabra

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Moist to Average
Bloom Time: May, June – flowers called cymes are inconspicuous
Size: 3-8 feet tall, 3-6 foot spread, depending on cultivar

As like other hollies, Inkberry is dioecious: need male pollinator plant to get female fruit set. Berry-like drupes are black and the size of a pea. It’s an upright grower that works well in a hedge and can be pruned. A good native option to boxwood. It is a broadleaf evergreen that is a slow grower.

Garden Companions

Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

Nature Benefits

• Birds and mammals eat the juicy fruit
• Provides nectar for pollinators.
• Host plant for Henry’s Elfin.

Native Habitat

Occurs in low wet woods, sandy sites, edges and openings in forests.

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Photos

White Oak

White Oak

Quercus alba

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: April, May – pollen is windblown
Size: 60-80 feet in height; 30-40 foot spread

Plant the majestic, long-lived White Oak for shade and stately structure as a backbone in the garden. It prefers full sun. Fall color of purple to wine-red. Oaks are a keystone species in the Cape’s ecosystem because they support more wildlife than any other plant found in our landscape.

Garden Companions

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), Rosebay Rhododenron (Rhododendron maximum)

Nature Benefits

• Supports the caterpillars of over 535 species of butterflies and moths.
• Acorns are food source for birds, deer, squirrels, and other rodents.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woods, dry upland slopes, well-drained loam in bottomlands.

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Photos

Sweet Pepperbush

Sweet Pepperbush

Clethra alnifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Wet, average
Bloom Time: White to pinkish flowers in July, August
Size: 4-8 feet in height; 4-6 foot spread

Plant Sweet Pepperbush where you are able to smell the spicy, sweet scent of its profuse late summer blooms. It can be planted in a mixed shrub hedge or border. Tolerates drought well once established.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Eastern Woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis)

Nature Benefits

• Birds and mammals eat the fruit.
• Flowers attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in seashores, stream banks, wet woods.

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Photos

Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: Non Flowering
Size: 15-30 feet in height; 3-10 foot spread

Long-lived Eastern Red Cedar can be used for screening with its conical or columnar dense habit. It has peeling red bark, fragrant foliage, and blue fruit on the female plants. Tolerates drought, salt spray, deer, erosion, heat, and cold.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), White Oak (Quercus alba)

Nature Benefits

• Berries eaten by mammals and many songbirds such as Cedar Waxwing and Bluebirds.
• Favorite nesting site for some birds.
• Dense protective shelter valuable for birds in winter.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woodland edges, meadows, pastures, coastal lowlands.

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Photos

American Holly

American Holly

Ilex opaca

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May, June
Size: 12-30 feet in height; 8-14 foot spread

Plant American Holly as an evergreen specimen, massed, or for hedges. Red berries persist through the winter but are only found on female plants when there is a male plant nearby.

Garden Companions

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Berries eaten by many songbirds, gamebirds, and mammals
• Larval host for Henry’s Elfin butterfly

Native Habitat

Occurs in shaded woods, stream and riverbanks, uplands, and lowlands.

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Photos

Pitch Pine

Pitch Pine

Pinus rigida

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: May, June
Size: 30-60 feet in height; 15-25 foot spread

The hardy Pitch Pine is suitable for planting in dry soil that other plants don’t tolerate. It grows rapidly once established in bare, sandy, poor soil. It is resistant to fire, deer, salt, and injury. It sends out shoots from the trunk in response to stress.

Garden Companions

Bayberry (Morella caroliniensis), Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Scrub Oak (Quercus ilicifolia), White Oak (Quercus alba)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for Pine-devil moth.
• Seeds feed squirrels, birds, and other wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in sandy barrens, coastal plains, and part of the pitch pine-oak plant community.

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Photos

Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger

Asarum canadense

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade
Soils: Dry to moist
Bloom Time: Inconspicuous, burgundy-colored flowers in May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height, spreads by rhizomes

Also called American Ginger, Asarum canadense differs from the non-native European Ginger in that its foliage is dull and the non-native’s foliage is shiny. Flower are hidden beneath the leaves, almost laying on the ground.

Garden Companions

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Nature Benefits

• Seeds have an elaiosome, a sticky residue attractive to ants that help with seed dispersal.
• Flowers have scent of carrion to attract tiny flies who are responsible for pollination of the ginger flowers.
• Serves as an alternate host plant for the caterpillar of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.

Native Habitat

Occurs in shady deciduous forests.

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Photos

Heath Aster

Heath Aster

Symphyotrichum ericoides

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in August, September, October
Size: 1-3 feet in height; up to 1.5 foot spread

Colony forming Heath Aster provides profuse, bloom for a border, rock, wildflower, or native plant garden. Tolerates poor soil and drought. Sometimes sold as Aster ericoides which is likely to be a cultivar or hybrid of other aster species.

Garden Companions

Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius), Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)

Nature Benefits

• Good plant for a large variety of late season pollinators.
• Host plant for the Banded Woolly Bear caterpillar, the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth.

Native Habitat

Occurs along roadsides, sandy, open areas, fields.

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Scrub Oak

Scrub Oak

Quercus ilicifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: Insignificant
Size: 12-20 feet in height

Scrub Oak is also called Bear Oak and is one of the smaller and more gnarled oaks in New England. It recolonizes dry sites that have been repeatedly cut or burned.

Garden Companions

Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for Sleepy Duskywing and Eastern Buckmoth.
• Attracts large number of diverse insects in stands of Scrub Oaks.
• Acorns are food source for wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in disturbed areas, woodlands, dry sandy barrens.

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Spicebush

Spicebush

Lindera benzoin

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun to shade
Soils: Wet, average
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in April, May
Size: 6-12 feet in height; 6-12 foot spread

Plant in naturalized woodland gardens with both male and female plants for showy red berry production. Fast-growing shrub in moist, shady areas. Some sun yields better form and berries. Dazzling yellow foliage in fall.

Garden Companions

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, Promethea silkmoth
• High wildlife value for songbirds, butterflies, and small mammals.

Native Habitat

Occurs in low deciduous woods, stream banks, swamps.

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Photos

Pennsylvania Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge

Carex pensylvanica

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun to shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: 6-12 inches in height; 12-18 inch spread

Plant fine-textured Pennsylvania Sedge as a shade ground cover, border, or underplanting for shade perennials – grows in containers. Drought tolerant. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadense), White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata), Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), Huckleberry (Gaylussacia spp.)

Nature Benefits

• Forage and habitat for butterfly larvae, birds, and small mammals.
• Used by ducks for nesting material and some cover.

Native Habitat

Occurs in grasslands, woodlands, forests.

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Shadbush

Shadbush

Amelanchier canadensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May
Size: 10-18 feet in height; 5-10 foot spread

Also called Serviceberry, it is good for height in mixed borders or foundation plantings. Called shadbush because its spring flowers coincide when the herring and shad are running. Good fall color. Drought tolerant. Deer and rabbit resistant. Birds love the fruit.

Garden Companions

Pasture rose (Rosa Carolina), American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), Bayberry (Morella caroliniensis)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for larvae of tiger swallowtail, viceroy, admiral, and striped hairstreak butterflies
• Fruit feeds at least 40 bird species
• Pollinator powerhouse

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, upland woods, meadows and fields.

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Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, sandy, average
Bloom Time: Pink and brown tints in June, July, August
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Plant as a groundcover, border, or accent plant in hot and dry sites. It has ornamental fine- textured bunches with fragrant flowers which become delicate seed heads that appear above the tufts of grass in mid-summer. Slow to establish and mature.

Garden Companions

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Narrowleaf Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium), Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana)

Nature Benefits

• Larval food plant for Leonard’s Skipper, grasshoppers, and leafhoppers.
• Provides nesting materials/structure for native bees and small mammals.
• Seeds eaten by songbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry prairies, fields, and roadsides.

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Bayberry

Bayberry

Morella caroliniensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Soils: Moist to dry
Bloom Time: Inconspicuous flowers appear in early spring- May
Size: 5-10 feet in height

Ubiquitous on Cape Cod, it is adapted to the Cape’s poor soils and salt spray. Does well in drought and deluge. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. Bayberry is dioecious, being there are male and female plants, and it is the female plant that bears the berries. Makes a good backdrop to a garden.

Garden Companions

Beach Plum (Prunus maritima), Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida), Scrub Oak (Quercus ilicifolia)

Nature Benefits

• Berries are important food for birds.
• The foliage provides cover for birds.
• It has nitrogen-fixing microbes associated with its roots and therefore improves nutrient value of soils for other plants.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dunes, fields, forest edges, roadsides, coastal banks, beach edges.

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New Jersey Tea

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus americanus

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Soils: Well-drained, moderate to dry
Bloom Time: White flowers in June, July, August
Size: 2-3 feet in height; 2-3 foot spread

This low growing shrub can serve as ground cover or as a tidy, fragrant, blooming shrub to attract bees and butterflies. Once established, its deep roots make it drought tolerant but difficult to move. Plant may die back in winter but will return in spring.

Garden Companions

Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina), False Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the caterpillars of the Spring Azure, Summer Azure, and Mottled Duskywing.
• Offers nectar for a variety of pollinating insects and hummingbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry fields and roadsides, woodland edges.

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Photos

Culver’s Root

Culver’s Root

Veronicastrum virginicum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Moist, average
Bloom Time: Flowers light pink to white in July, August
Size: 3-5 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Candelabra-like flower spikes top an erect stem providing a good accent plant in a perennial garden or plant Culver’s Root in a mixed border, meadow, pollinator garden, or naturalized area. Deadhead flowers to extend bloom time or cut the plant to the ground for a second flush of growth.

Garden Companions

Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya), Broomsedge Bluestem (Andropogon virginicus), New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for Buckeye butterfly.
• Pollen and nectar used by bees, wasps, flies, moths, and butterflies.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, meadows, fields.

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Photos

Pasture Rose

Pasture Rose

Rosa carolina

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average to wet
Bloom Time: Showy pink flowers in June, July, August
Size: 2-4 feet in height; 3-4 foot spread

Plant the low maintenance native rose shrub in borders, mass plantings, and use for naturalizing in spots with good air circulation. Most prolific in full sun. Drought tolerant and deer and rabbit resistant. The rose hip turns bright red as it ripens. It’s also called the Carolina Rose.

Garden Companions

Sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), Little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Nature Benefits

• Offers nectar for bumble bees and other native bees.
• Native bees nest beneath, within, or harvest parts to construct their nests.
• Rosehips support birds in winter.

Native Habitat

Occurs in sandy areas, thickets, roadsides, open woods.

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Photos

Sweet Fern

Sweet Fern

Comptonia peregrina

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Sandy, acidic, dry to moist
Bloom Time: Inconspicuous yellowish green flowers in April, May, June
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 4-8 foot spread

Plant the nitrogen-fixing shrub as a ground cover for erosion control, foundation planting, mixed border, or massing. Colony forming, little management is needed. Fern-like leaves smell sweet and are deer resistant. Nice fall color.

Garden Companions

Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), Beach Plum (Prunus maritima), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for several sphinx moths, gray hairstreak butterfly, and others.
• Nutlets attract butterflies and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in clearings, pastures, edges of bog roads, and woodlands.

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Photos

American Elderberry

American Elderberry

Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun to part shade
Soils: Wet to dry
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June, July
Size: 5-8 feet in height; 3-8 foot spread

Plant this native as a hedge or alone. Berries and flowers are edible, but other parts of the plant contain toxic calcium oxalate crystals and are poisonous. Individual plants are short-lived, but root masses produce new shoots. Fast grower. Notice the white flowers on wild elderberry along wetland edges in late spring—it loves the Cape’s acidic soils.

Garden Companions

Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Nature Benefits

• Fruit attracts birds who then spread seeds.
• Berries relished by mammals.
• Attracts pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in alluvial forests, bogs, ditches, drier old fields.

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Photos

Highbush Blueberry

Highbush Blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun – Shade
Soils: Moist to dry
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June
Size: 3-12 feet in height; 3-7 foot spread

Highbush Blueberry is excellent for naturalized landscaping. Provides brilliant red fall color and is a great alternative to the harmful invasive Burning Bush.

Garden Companions

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

Nature Benefits

• Host to the Frosted Elfin butterfly.
• Berries highly favored by numerous bird species and other wildlife.
• Excellent pollinator plant.

Native Habitat

Occurs in wooded and open areas, wetland edges, dry pitch pine and oak woodlands.

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Black Chokeberry

Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, Part Shade
Soils: Moist to dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June
Size: 3-10 feet in height; 3-6 foot spread

Plant this multi-stemmed shrub in a wildlife or mixed shrub border to show its small masses of flowers followed by showy fruit. When planted in full sun, foliage will be deep red in fall. It can spread by root suckers forming colonies. Drought tolerant once established and tolerates occasional flooding.

Garden Companions

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis), Steeple Bush (Spirea tomentosa), Speckled Alder (Alnus incana), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Grass-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)

Nature Benefits

• Showy fruits attract birds in winter.
• Offers nectar for bees and other pollinating insects.

Native Habitat

Occurs in bogs, wet thickets, margins of ponds and lakes, woods.

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Photos

Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Sun, Part Shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 8-24 inch spread

This ubiquitous Cape Cod grass makes a beautiful native choice for an ornamental grass in the landscape. Blue-green stems in summer are followed by golden brown stems with airy seed heads in fall and winter. Drought tolerant but can do well in moist situations.

Garden Companions

Big Bluestem grass (Andropogon virginicus), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black- eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for several skipper butterflies.
• Seeds are eaten by songbirds.
• Food source for grasshoppers, leaf-mining beetles, thrips, spittlebugs, and leafhoppers.
• Provides cover for bumble bee queens to make their underground nests.

Native Habitat

Occurs in meadows, fields, roadsides, open areas.

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Photos

Teaberry

Teaberry

Gaultheria procumbens

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, Part Shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time: White flowers in June, July, August
Size: 1-4 inches in height; 6-12 inch spread

Plant evergreen Teaberry as a low, woody, ground cover. Grows and flowers best in sunny openings with light shade during midday. Showy red fruits may persist through the winter on the colony forming plants. Wintergreen flavoring originated with this plant. Drought tolerant.

Garden Companions

Hillside Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Common Star-grass (Hypoxis hirsuta), Canada-mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Flax-leaved Stiff-aster (Ionactis linariifolia)

Nature Benefits

• Provides food for birds, foxes, and small mammals in winter.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, pine and oak forests, meadows or fields, bogs.

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New England Aster

New England Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial • Sunlight: Sun, Part Shade • Soils: Average to moist • Bloom Time: Deep violet to pink flowers appear in August, September • Size: 3-4 feet in height Two adaptations of being a meadow plant are that it wants to grow tall and the lowest leaves will die out at the bottom. However, it can be pinched back a few times before mid-July so it will blossom on shorter stems.

Garden Companions

Small Yellow Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Anise Scent Goldenrod (Solidago odoro), Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Supports pollinators in late summer fall when they need sustenance most. • Host plant for the caterpillars of the Pearl Crescent. • Songbirds and small mammals eat the seeds. • Supports bee specialists in the Adrena genus.

Native Habitat

Occurs in meadows, old fields, and stream banks. Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Barren Strawberry

Barren Strawberry

Waldsteinia fragarioides

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, Part Shade
Soils: Sandy, well-drained to clay and medium loam, dry to moist
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in May, June
Size: 3-6 inches in height; 6-12 inch spread

Plant the tough, semi-evergreen Barren Strawberry as a woodland ground cover. It will naturalize via rhizomes and out-compete weeds. Although called strawberry, the fruit is neither fleshy nor edible. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Small Yellow Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Slender Woodland Sedge (Carex digitalis)

Nature Benefits

• May support pollinators.
• Provides cover for ground-nesting bees.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woods, thickets, fields, and uplands bordering calcareous wetland communities.

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Photos

Seaside Goldenrod

Seaside Goldenrod

Solidago sempervirens

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Sandy, average moisture to dry
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in August, September, October
Size: 2-6 feet in height; 2-3 foot spread

Perennial with low maintenance is perfect in a pollinator garden and ornamental flower bed. Spreads easily by seeds but does not become invasive. This goldenrod has almost succulent leaves to protect against winds and salt spray. Drought tolerant. Salt spray tolerant. Pinch the growing tips in June for a more compact plant in gardens.

Garden Companions

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae), Brown Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)

Nature Benefits

• Food source for migrating monarch butterflies.
• Attracts songbirds, other butterflies, and small mammals.

Native Habitat

Occurs on coastal beaches, dunes, and marshes.

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Photos

Lady Fern

Lady Fern

Athyrium filix-femina

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part Shade, Shade
Soils: Well-drained soils, moist to dry
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: 1-2 feet in height; 12-18 inch spread

Plant low maintenance Lady Fern in perennial borders, moist nooks, low spots, and woodland gardens. Typically grows in full to part shade in drier soils than most ferns, and it can tolerate full sun if kept cool and soil is moist. Like most ferns it is deer resistant. Upright stems are green or red.

Garden Companions

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis), Jack-in-the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Nature Benefits

• No known direct benefits to wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in river or stream floodplains, forests, swamps, woodlands.

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Photos

Partridge Pea

Partridge Pea

Chamaecrista fasciculata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Annual
Sunlight: Sun, Part Shade
Soils: Sandy, well-drained, dry to moist
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in July, August, September
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 6-12 in spread

This is a native annual. Plant to establish disturbed sites, as part of a wildflower meadow or border. Partridge Pea is also called Sensitive Plant because its leaves collapse when touched. The annual readily self-seeds. It is easily shaded out by larger plants. As a legume, Partridge Pea fixes nitrogen.

Garden Companions

Small Yellow Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Slender Woodland Sedge (Carex digitalis)

Nature Benefits

• Seed pods provide food for birds and small wildlife
• Offers nectar for bumble bees, butterflies, and ants
• Larval host for cloudless giant sulphur, orange sulphur, and sleepy orange butterflies

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry fields and clearings, meadows, and roadsides

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Photos

Golden Groundsel

Golden Groundsel

Packera aurea

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Prefers full sun to shade.
Soils: Moist to dry
Bloom Time: Spring blossoms – April, May, June
Size: 1 foot in height

Also called Golden Ragwort and Butterweed, this rugged plant can handle tough places like rain gardens. It self-seeds and spreads by rhizomes. The foliage is green most of the year and stays low to the ground. In early spring, the aster-like flowers present on 1ft stems above the foliage in a stunning display of yellow-gold.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar and pollen attract small bees, such as little carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, and various halictid bees.

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in openings in moist to dry woodlands, areas along woodland paths and abandoned fields.

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Photos

Blue Vervain

Blue Vervain

Verbena hastata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full to part sun
Soils: Medium to Moist
Bloom Time: July, August
Size: 3-4 feet in height

Short-lived, doesn’t compete well with more aggressive vegetation. It self-seeds readily and is easy to germinate.

Garden Companions

Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Nature Benefits

• Pollinators will visit.
• Seeds are valuable to small mammals and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in marshes, swamp margins, and ditches.

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Photos

Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, partial shade
Soils: Well-drained sandy soils
Bloom Time: Pink to purple flowers in June, July, August
Size: 3-4 feet in height

Drought tolerant. Fragrant flowers! Plant in area where rhizomes can spread. Seed pods release seeds in late summer and fall.

Garden Companions

Rose Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

Nature Benefits

• Pollinator magnet! Attracts a variety of insects including Milkweed Bugs and Oleander Aphids that don’t hurt the plant.
• Host plant for the caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly and the Tussock Moth.

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in fields, meadows, abandoned lots and roadsides.

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Photos

Common Boneset

Common Boneset

Eupatorium perfoliatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full to part sun
Soils: Sandy to clay, needs consistent moisture
Bloom Time: White flowers from June, July, August
Size: 3-6 feet in height, 2 foot spread

Use in border and wildflower gardens, around banks of a pond, wildflower meadow, pollinator garden, rain garden. Useful in habitat restoration projects.

Garden Companions

Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

Nature Benefits

• Pollinator magnet. Butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers.
• Host plant for caterpillars of the Lined Ruby Tiger Moth (Phragmatobia lineate), Burdock Borer Moth (Papaipema cataphracta), Three-lined Flower Moth (Schinia trifascia).

Native Habitat

Occurs in marshes, swamp margins, stream banks, and shores of rivers or lakes.

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Photos

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium

Geranium maculatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Partial to full shade
Soils: Dry to moist
Bloom Time: Lavender or pink flowers in April, May, June
Size: 8-12 inches Also called Cranesbill.

Plants grow in clumps and can form a groundcover. Its seed capsule is explosive.

Garden Companions

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Nature Benefits

• Seed heads attract songbirds. • Value to bumble bees and other native bees, butterflies, and other insects.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woods, roadsides, and fields. Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Mistflower

Mistflower

Conoclinium coelestinum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Prefers full sun to part shade.
Soils: Prefers medium to wet soils, rich in organic matter which do not dry out.
Bloom Time: Lavender-blue flowers in July, August, September
Size: 1-2 feet in height

The root system will spread to form colonies and can spread aggressively in moist open ground, but not problematic. Flowers have no scent. Flower resembles the annual purple ageratum. Taller plants can be cut back in summer to prevent flopping.

Garden Companions

Blue Stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia); White Wood Aster (Eurybia divarcatus)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts long-tongued bees, butterflies, skippers, short-tongued bees, various flies, moths, and beetles. Insects seek nectar primarily, although the bees often collect pollen.
• Host plant for caterpillars of such moths as the Clymene Moth (Haploa clymene), Lined Ruby Tiger Moth (Phragmatobia lineata), Three-lined Flower Moth (Schinia trifascia).

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in wet meadows, along streams, in ditches.

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Golden Alexanders

Golden Alexanders

Zizea aurea

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Prefers full sun to part shade.
Soils: Moist to average moisture
Bloom Time: Spring blossoms – April, May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height

Tolerates drier summer soils, provided it receives moist soils in early spring. In the carrot family, the plant is care-free, and is capable of self-pollination. It is an important early flowering plant for beneficial insects.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Nature Benefits

• May host caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail butterfly
• Flowers are attractive to many kinds of insects seeking pollen or nectar, especially short-tongued bees, such as green metallic bees and andrenid bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. Other insects include valuable predator wasps, small butterflies, and long-tongued bumblebees.

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in openings in moist to dry woodlands, areas along woodland paths and abandoned fields.

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Photos

Wild Quinine

Wild Quinine

Parthenium integrifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Soils: wide range of soil types
Bloom Time: Summer- June, July, August – dense clusters of pure white flowers
Size: 3-5 feet in height

Makes a great cut flower. Foliage is aromatic. Native Americans used wild quinine for medicinal and veterinary purposes. The leaves contain tannin, which is thought to be beneficial for treating burns.

Garden Companions

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa); Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts pollinators

Native Habitat

In Massachusetts occurs naturally in central part of the state, found in dry fields, open wooded areas, rocky woods, and hillsides.

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Great Blue Lobelia

Great Blue Lobelia

Lobelia siphilitica

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Prefers full sun to part shade.
Soils: Moist, well-drained soils
Bloom Time: Late summer blossoms – July, August, September; vivid blue flower
Size: 1-3 feet in height, 1 foot spread

In average soil conditions, you may need to water occasionally—don’t let it dry out. Most striking when planted in mass, rather than a single plant. Pollinators love it.

Garden Companions

Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata); Flat-topped Aster (Aster umbellatus); Spotted Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum); White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Nature Benefits

• Bumblebees, other bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in swamps and wet meadows.

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Photos

Wild Columbine

Wild Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part shade to full shade
Soils: Well-drained and average moisture
Bloom Time: Spring blossoms – April, May, June; flower is bell-shaped red spurs with a yellow center
Size: 1-2 feet in height, 1 foot spread

May go dormant in mid-summer. Although a perennial, it readily self-seeds. Leave the seed heads or collect and spread the seeds where you want more Columbine in your garden.

Garden Companions

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculata), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Nature Benefits

• The spurs contain nectar that attracts long-tongued bees and moths, and hummingbirds who are specially adapted to reach the nectar.
• Seeds are consumed by finches and buntings.
• Host to the caterpillar of the Columbine Duskywing (Erynnis lucilius)

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in rich rocky woods, north-facing slopes, cliffs, ledges, pastures, and roadsides.

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Photos

Wild Bergamot

Wild Bergamot

Monarda fistulosa

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: A wide range from moist to dry, organically rich, well-drained sand, loam, clay.
Bloom Time: Lavender flowers bloom in July, August, September
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 3 foot spread

Easy to grow in a perennial border, wildflower garden or meadow. A great naturalizing wildflower and a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. Leave the seed heads.

Garden Companions

Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata), Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts long-tongued bees, bee flies, butterflies, skippers, and hummingbird moths
• Birds eat the seeds
• Host plant for the Raspberry Pyrausta Moth

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry open woods, fields, wet meadows and ditches, edges of woods and marshes

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Photos

Spotted Bee Balm

Spotted Bee Balm

Monarda punctata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Dry to moist soils, does well in poor soils
Bloom Time: Summer blossoms – July, August, September; interesting flower!
Size: 2-3 feet in height

Also called Dotted Mint or Dotted Horsemint, this plant is amazingly drought tolerant. Pollinators love this plant. Aromatic foliage, in bud, it forms saffron-colored rosettes in whorls along the top half of the stem. When the whorls release, watercolor-painted petals with little freckles are exposed and later mature to a soft pinkish-dawn color. These painted petals hold at the end of the flower spike for weeks upon weeks as they peek out through what appears to be leaf bracts.

Garden Companions

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa); Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa); Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar source for diverse number of pollinators
• Host for the Raspberry pyrausta butterfly caterpillar

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally fields, clearings, and roadsides.

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Photos

Smooth-leaved Aster

Smooth-leaved Aster

Symphyotrichum laevis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, partial shade
Soils: Well-drained sandy soils
Bloom Time: Late summer – August, September, lavender flowers
Size: 2-3 feet in height

A non-aggressive rhizomatous root system allows the plant to spread slowly. In a garden setting, Smooth Blue Aster will persist for many years. The beautiful late blooming flowers attract many different pollinators.

Garden Companions

Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides), Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium), New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the Pearl Crescent butterfly and Silvery Checkerspot butterfly
• Attracts many different native bees and butterflies.

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in fields and meadows.

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Foxglove Beardtongue

Foxglove Beardtongue

Penstemon digitalis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, partial shade
Soils: Average to moist, well-drained sandy soils
Bloom Time: Early summer – June, July with white to pink flowers
Size: 3-4 feet in height

Drought tolerant. Penstemons are called ‘Beard Tongues’ because the sterile stamen has a tuft of small hairs.

Garden Companions

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

Nature Benefits

• The tubular flowers attract long-tongued bees such as bumblebees and mason bees, as well as hummingbirds.
• Host plant to the Chalcedon Checkerspot and Edith’s Checkerspots

Native Habitat

Occurs in sunny openings of freshwater wetlands, stream banks and ditches.

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Rose / Swamp Milkweed

Rose / Swamp Milkweed

Asclepias incarnata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Prefers moist soil, but does well in well-drained garden soil
Bloom Time: Rose-pink; bloom time is June, July
Size: 3-4 feet in height; 2 foot spread

One of the most beautiful of native perennials with clusters of upturned pink-purple flowers. Pods contain seeds with silky parachutes that are dispersed by the wind.

Garden Companions

Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant and highly preferred by the monarch butterfly caterpillar
• Pollinator favorite!

Native Habitat

Occurs in sunny openings of freshwater wetlands, stream banks and ditches.

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Photos

Obedient Plant / False Dragonhead

Obedient Plant / False Dragonhead

Physostegia virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Moist, well-drained soils
Bloom Time: Late summer – August, September; white to pink
Size: 2-5 feet in height

Unlike its name implies, this plant root system spreads underground, making it a wonderful species if you need a plant to fill in large spots around your yard. While they prefer moist soil, Obedient plants are easily established and very drought tolerant, forgiving plants and in dry conditions, spreading is less of a problem.

Like all members of the mint family, it produces lots of nectar and provides a much-needed boost of energy for pollinators facing the coming winter.

Garden Companions

Coastal Plain Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium dubium); Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum); Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata); Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Nature Benefits

• Fantastic nectar source for diverse number of pollinators

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in fields, roadsides, shores of rivers and lakes.

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Photos

Mountain Mint

Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum muticum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to full shade
Soils: Dry to moist soils, does well in poor soils
Bloom Time: Summer blossoms – July, August, September; flower is diminutive bell-shaped red spurs with a yellow center
Size: 2-3 feet in height, 2 foot spread

Silvery green foliage is nicely aromatic. This native is happiest at the wood’s edge and is excellent for a naturalized border or woodland garden. Also called short-toothed or clustered mountain mint, it is one of the best nectar sources for native butterflies–this is a pollinator magnet! When planted in groups or massed, the silvery bracts give the entire planting the appearance of being dusted by a white powdery snow.

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta); Bear Tongue (Penstemon digitalis); Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium dubium or E. purpureum)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar source for diverse number of pollinators
• Host for Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata) caterpillar

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in rich rocky woods, north-facing slopes, cliffs, ledges, pastures, and roadsides.

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Plant Images

Coastal Plain Joe Pye Weed

Coastal Plain Joe Pye Weed

Eutrochium (formerly Eupatorium) dubium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Moist, well-drained soils
Bloom Time: Summer – July, August, September; mauve-purple flower
Size: 2-5 feet in height

Moist areas in borders, cottage gardens, meadows, native plant gardens, wild/naturalized areas, rain gardens or water margins. The domes of lavender-pink flowers attract lots of butterflies in late summer and early fall. Its smaller size makes it a better fit in moist borders, beds, meadows, or roadside plantings. Spent flowers turn to clusters of attractive seed heads that persist well into winter.

The plant gets its name from Joe Pye, reportedly an Indian herbalist and healer in the New England area.

Garden Companions

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana); Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum); Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata); Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Nature Benefits

• Fantastic nectar source for diverse number of pollinators; leave seed heads for birds

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally along swamps, wetlands and wet meadows

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Plant Images

Butterfly Milkweed

Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun
Soils: Poor, well-drained
Bloom Time: Orange to yellow flowers in June, July, August
Size: 1-2 feet in height; 1-2 foot spread

Plant Butterfly Milkweed in mixed borders, meadows, and natural areas –even deep pots. Slow to emerge in spring. Drought tolerant. Pods contain seeds with silky parachutes that are dispersed by the wind.

Garden Companions

Big Bluestem grass (Andropogon virginicus), Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata), Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the monarch butterfly caterpillar
• Offers nectar for hummingbirds, bumble bees, and other insects

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry fields and roadsides

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Photos

Blue-stemmed Goldenrod

Blue-stemmed Goldenrod

Solidago caesia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Partial shade, full shade
Soils: Moist, well-drained soils; tolerant of poor, dry soils
Bloom Time: Late summer – August, September, yellow flowers
Size: 2-3 feet in height

Drought tolerant, once established. A well-behaved goldenrod, displays bold arching wands of golden clusters in late summer, contrasted by blue-green stems. Adds life to a dry shady spot. Best used at the woodland’s edge or in a shaded butterfly or wild garden.

Garden Companions

Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), Green & Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea spp.), Big Bluestem grass (Andropogon gerardii), Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius)

Nature Benefits

• Provides important nectar and pollen for native bees

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in fields, woodland edge, and roadsides. A true meadow plant.

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Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia fulgida

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, partial shade
Soils: Dry, well-drained soils
Bloom Time: Yellow-orange flowers in July, August, September
Size: 2-3 feet in height

Drought tolerant, once established. Self-seeds. Great cut flower.

Garden Companions

Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata); Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium); Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar for butterflies and other insects
• Seed heads feed birds

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in fields, woodland edge, and roadsides. A true meadow plant.

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Anise-scented Goldenrod

Anise-scented Goldenrod

Solidago odoro

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, partial shade
Soils: Well-drained sandy soils
• Bloom Time: Late summer – August, September, yellow flowers
Size: 2-3 feet in height

Drought tolerant. Fragrant leaves have the scent of licorice. High ecological value and handsome appearance, it makes a valuable addition to wildflower gardens, meadows, and naturalistic borders.

Garden Companions

Grass-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia); Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa); Old Field Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)

Nature Benefits

• Provides important nectar and pollen for native bees.
• Attracts birds, ladybugs, lacewings and other beneficial insects.

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in fields and meadows.

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