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Gardening with Native Plants

For years, Yvonne has been developing a sustainable homestead complete with chickens, food plants, on-site water, solar power, and more.


Planting a Beautiful, Low Maintenance Garden with Native Plants

Using native plants in the landscape and sustainable gardening are 2 hot topics, today. Gardening with Native Plants will provide you with lists of wildflowers and native plants as well as techniques and links to more information to get you started on the way to creating a beautiful and ecologically healthy garden.

Two of my favorite quotes are:

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." - Frank Lloyd Wright and "A weed is no more than a flower in disguise." - James Russell Lowell

Those two quotes sum up how I feel about gardening with native plants. Many years ago we recognized the numerous benefits of using beautiful native plants in landscaping. It's so easy to do. Just follow the six steps to a beautiful, low maintenance, low cost, ecologically healthy, sustainable garden. The native plants in this lens grow in the Southeastern United States, but many are also native to other parts of the country. A visit to your state's native plant society will get you the information that you will need to plan and plant your own sustainable garden using local native plants.

We hope you enjoy the page and that it helps you garden better by using native plants.

Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia) Photo by Y.L. Bordelon, All Rights Reserved

Why Garden with Natives?


Long-Tailed Skipper on Mistflower

  • Native Plant Gardens are Low Maintenance
  • Native plants evolved to grow in local conditions and to predictable sizes. They do not require watering (except when first transplanted), chemical pesticides or fertilizers, nor frequent cutting. They also do not require raking because leaves are a soil builder, weed suppressor and natural fertilizer.
  • Using Native Plants Saves Money because naturescapes practically take care of themselves, so there are little or no maintenance costs.
  • Replacing Lawns with Native Plants Conserves Water
  • Did you know that at least 60% of water consumed on the West Coast, and 30% on the East Coast, goes to watering lawns? Also, U.S. News and World Report states that a 1000 sq. ft. lawn (for example, 20' x 50') requires 10,000 gallons of water per summer to maintain a "green" look.

Prothonotary in Sourwood


Naturescaping Helps Song Birds & Other Wildlife

Populations of all of our migratory song birds are declining at a rapid rate and there is no end in sight. Planting a naturescape and using native plants will help bring some populations back up by providing native habitat for food, nesting and shelter. So that our children and grandchildren will experience the beauty, sound, flight and enchantment of seeing birds, and the joy that comes from other creatures.

Hoover Fly on Salvia Coccinea


Bee on Sunflower


Monarda Fistulosa


Planting Natives in Suburban Yards Helps Farmers and Homeowners

At least 80% of the fruits and vegetables that we eat depend on pollination by bees, butterflies and other insects to produce. Some of these pollinators are in serious decline, due in part, to the fragmenting of native habitats by urban sprawl. But, landscaping with native plants can help replace some of the lost habitat so these necessary insects can make a come back. Landscaping with native plants will also aid pollination if they are planted near food crops by giving the insects sustenance that they do not receive when pollinating a mono-culture crop.

Reducing Lawn Size Helps Reduce Synthetic Chemicals in the Environment as well as Negative Health Impacts caused by Air & Noise Pollution

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Naturescaping eliminates chemical run-off because chemical pesticides and fertilizers are not required. Yale University studies indicate that the average suburban lawn uses 10 times more chemical pesticide per acre than farmland. Each year, 67,000,000 pounds of synthetic pesticides are used on U.S. lawns. Every time it rains those chemicals run-off into our waterways and wind up in the drinking water or in fish or plants eaten by people (or otherwise negatively impacting environmental health in some other way). Fertilizer run off will foul water supplies, create algae blooms and kill fish, etc.

Naturescaping also reduces both air and noise pollution because once it is established there is virtually no mechanized maintenance. Did you know that Lawnmowers emit 10-12 times as much pollution as a typical auto; string trimmers 21 times and blowers 34 times?

Meadow Beauty


Landscaping with Native Plants Enhances Livability

An ecologically functional landscape offers so much more than a sterile, static monoculture landscape. It offers imagination and new experiences to our children, and beauty, color, sound and wonder to us all. It is cleaner, quieter and healthier, and may even increase property values.

Excellent Native Plant Books

These books are some of the best you can find about gardening with native plants. You won't go wrong with any of them.

Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing and Propagating

Arbor Day

Betty Foust Smith

"Tree Planting Day" they called it

In Nebraska long ago.

Now we call it Arbor Day, and

Oh, I love it so!

I love to plant a growing thing--

A tree, a shrub, a vine--

And know it will for years and years

Keep growing there, a sign

To children who come after me

That someone thought of them,

And left behind a living friend

More precious than a gem.


Growing and Propagating Showy Native Woody Plants

Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata)

Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata)

Birdfoot Violet (Viola pedata)

Landscaping With Native Plants

  • List the changes you'd like to make.
  • Learn about plants that are native to your area.
  • Sketch out a map showing the original plantings.
  • Apply landscaping techniques to work up the plan.
  • Choose the plants.

Step 1 - Change Your Paradigms Say No to Lawns

Labor intensive, manicured, exotic turf lawns became the rage during the late 1800's after Frank J. Scott's book, The Art of Beautifying Suburban Home Grounds became the bible for American homeowners. Today, food plants & native alternatives to exotic turf grass are replacing old-fashioned, large lawns.

Lawn Size can be Reduced in a number of ways. Our favorite way to chip away at our exotic turf lawn is by adding islands consisting of groups of flowering or fruiting native trees and shrubs.

White Bog Violet


Another way is by using native ground covers, ferns or mosses especially in shady areas where turf grass is hard to grow and cut. Planting wildflower meadow areas that only need to be cut once a year (in late winter) after they have set seed and the birds have finished with them is another alternative to a lawn. Replacing the traditional lawn in your backyard or side yard with a native bunch grass (such as poverty oat grass, Danthonia spicata or junegrass, Koeleria macrantha), low-growing, buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) or native flowering perennials is another low-maintenance way.

Monarch on Wild Aster


Pink Candyroot


Step 2 - List the Changes you'd like to make

Do you want to:

 ~ add beds for flowers, perennials, shrubs, etc.?

 ~ screen out noise or obscure a view?

 ~ grow vegetables, fruits & herbs?

 ~ attract butterflies, birds & wildlife?

 ~ include a water feature?

 ~ design a low-maintenance landscape, reduce lawn size and replace it with easy-care natives, groundcovers and mulches?

Butterfly Pea

Centrosema Virginica

Centrosema Virginica

Texas Star Hibiscus


Step 3 - Learn about plants that are native to your area

Contact or join local native plant societies & other organizations. Consult native plant books and guides. You can find a list of our favorites below. Visit native plant Internet sites. Some of our favorites are in the Plexo below. Feel free to add your own to the list. Visit Preserves, Arboretums, Wildlife Management Areas and other native habitats to see the plants in their natural surroundings and to get ideas about the plants that would be right for your property.

Step 4 - Sketch out a map showing the original plantings.


Map of Original Landscaping

Use tracing paper to experiment with changes you'd like to make. Be sure to start with a small project and work with one area at a time.


Obedient Plant


Step 5 - Apply Landscaping Techniques to work up a plan

Think about what kinds of activities your family likes to do and organize the yard according to how it will be used. Use nature as a guide & let animals work for you. Nature set up a wonderful cycle of producer, predator and prey. When we use pesticides and other chemicals we kill the good insects along with the bad and sometimes harm birds and other beneficial wildlife. Birds and animals can even help you till and fertilize the soil.

Take a look around your neighborhood for ideas on property that is similar to yours. By all means, make it Low Maintenance and be sure to incorporate drainage techniques that conserve rain / storm water on-site like ponds, rain gardens, barrels and or cisterns. Mosquito dunks are a great natural, organic mosquito killer. When dropped into standing water (100 gallons per dunk) will last for 30 days and are not harmful to pets, fish or wildlife.

Blazing Star, Liatris


Southern Magnolia Flower


Step 6 - Choose Plants

Native plants grown from local stock perform better in your yard. Our weather is hot and humid and native plants from the upper south usually melt away down here in South Louisiana. Notice what native plants grow in locations similar to yours and use them.

Choose plants that have colorful leaves, flowers, fruit or nuts during each season of the year. Also, be sure to get at least 3 of each of the smaller plants and plant in odd numbered groups. It looks better that way and if you are trying to attract birds or butterflies, they will be drawn to the larger mass of flowers or fruit. Choose plants that are multi-functional. Pick ones that have shade, food, soil enriching or wildlife attracting, or other properties.

Huckleberry, Wild Blueberry


Societies and Trees

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

Greek Proverb

Here in Louisiana, fall and winter are the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs. The weather is cool and there is usually plenty of moisture so the roots of the plants can develop while they are dormant. By spring the plant is established and ready to put out new leaves. But don't forget to water well during drought periods for the first year.

Most photos, stamps, postcards, posters and the items here are available at Naturally Native Creations

Native Plants List

There are thousands of beautiful, easy to grow, low maintenance native plants that can be grown in your garden. You'll find many of my favorites on this page. There is also a legend noting which plants attract butterflies, hummingbirds, pollinators or song birds and which provide food for humans and animals.


Flame Azalea


Blue Violets


Some Favorite Easy to Grow Native Plants - Native Plants of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

To see photographs of most of the following plants and to learn more about gardening and landscaping with native plants, visit the Folsom Native Plant Society Website, Seasonal Blooming Guideor use some of the links below to find out if any of these plants are native in your area.

Legend for Plants:

B = Butterfly nectar source

Bh = Butterfly Host (larval food)

H = Hummingbird nectar source

P = Pollinator (Bees, etc.)

SB = Song & other Bird Food Source

F = Food for Humans & Mammals

Red Buckeye


Yaupon Holly


Native Small Trees & Large Shrubs

Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis H

Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria & other Hollies SB

Wax Myrtle, Myricacerifera morellancerifera SB

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis B

Devil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa SB, P

Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida SB

Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis P, SB, F

Fringetree, Grancy Graybeard Chioanthus virginicus P, SB

Mayhaw, Crataegus opaca Bh, P, SB, F

Parsley Hawthorn, Crataegus marshallii Bh, P, SB

Plum Family

  ~   Chickasaw Plum, Prunus angustifolia Bh, P, SB, F

  ~   Mexican Plum, Prunus Mexicana Bh, P, SB, F

Pawpaw Family

  ~   Pawpaw, Asimina triloba Bh, F

  ~   Dwarf Pawpaw, Asimina parviflora Bh, F

Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia B, H

Sassafras albidum Bh, SB, F

Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea P, SB, F

Silver-bell, Halesia diptera H, SB

Snowbell, Styrax americanus P

Southern Crabapple, Malus angustifolia P, SB, F

Sumac, Rhus spp. SB

Tree Huckleberry, Vaccinium arboretum SB, Bh

Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana H, SB

Native Pink Azalea


Flame Azalea


Native Shrubs

Azaleas B, H, P

  ~   Honeysuckle - Rhododendron canescens

  ~   Florida - Rhododendron austrinum

  ~   Swamp or Summer Azalea -

R. viscosum, formerly R. serrulatum

Florida Anise / Star-bush, Illicium floridanum P

Groundsel Bush, Baccharis halimifolia P, SB

St. John's Wort, Hypericum Family P, B

  ~   St. John's Wort, H. sphaerocarpum

  ~   St. Andrew's Cross, H. hypericoides

Yucca spp. B, Bh, H, P, F

American Beautyberry, Callicarpa Americana P, SB

Wild Blueberry / Huckleberry Elliot's Blueberry Vaccinium elliottii Bh, H, SB, F

Coral Bean / Mamou, Erythrina herbacea B, H, SB

Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens B, P, SB

Roses B, P, SB, F

  ~   Carolina Rose, Rosa carolina

  ~   Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris

Silky Camellia, Stewartia malacodendron (rare) P

Strawberry Bush, Euonymous americanus SB

Sweet Shrub / Carolina Allspice Calycanthus floridus P, F

Turk's Cap / Sultan's Turban

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii B, H, P, SB

Arrowwood Viburnum, Viburnum dentatum B, P, SB

Sweetspire, Itea virginica B, P, SB




Clematis crispa

Clematis crispa

Native Vines

Clematis P

  ~   Leather Flower, Clematis crispa

  ~   Virgin's Bower, Clematis virginiana

Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata H, P

Yellow Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens B, H, P

Coral Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens B, H, SB

Morning Glory B, H

  ~   Cypress Vine, Ipomoea quamoclit

  ~   Red Morning Glory, Ipomoea coccinea, I. hederifolia

Passion Flower / Maypop, Passiflora incarnate B, Bh, P, F

Yellow Passion Vine, Passiflora lutea B, Bh, P

Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans H (Spreads rapidly)

Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia SB

Wild Grape / Muscadine, Vitis rotundifolia SB, F

Native Groundcovers

Lyre-leaf Sage, Salvia Lyrata B, H, P

Elephant Foot, Elephantopus tomentosus B, P

Self-Heal, Prunella vulgaris B, P

Little Brown Jugs, Hexastylis arifolia

Partridgeberry, Mitchella repens SB

Primrose-leaved Violet, Viola primulifolia B, Bh

Wild Blue Violets


Blue Violets


Native Wildflowers

Late Winter / Early Spring Blooms:

Butterweed, Senecio glabellus B, P

Daisy Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus B

Wild Violets, Viola langloisii B, Bh, P, F

Early Blue Violet, Viola palmata B, Bh, P

Birdsfoot Violet, Viola pedata B, Bh, P

Viola primulifolia B, Bh, P

Gardening with Native Plants of the South

Indian Pink


The Louisiana Iris

Spring & Early Summer Blooms

Sharp-sepal Beard-tongue, Penstemon tenuis B, H

Lemon Mint, Monarda citriodora B, H, F

Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa B, H, F

Bluestar, Amsonia tabernaemontana

Longleaf Milkweed, Asclepias longifolia B, Bh, P

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa B, Bh, P

Spider Milkweed, Asclepias viridis B, Bh, P

Candy Root, Polygala nana P

Drumhead Candyroot, Polygala cruciata P

Mouse-ear Coreopsis, Coreopsis auriculata B, P

Lance-leaved Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata B, P

Garden Coreopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria B, P

Gaura / Beeblossom, Gaura lindheimeri B, P

Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica B, H, P

Copper Iris / Red Iris, Iris fulva B, H, P

Giant Blue Iris, Iris giganticaerulea B, H, P

Southern Blue Flag, Iris virginiana B, H, P

Zig-zag-stemmed Iris, Iris brevicaulis B, H, P

Meadow Beauty, Rhexia alifanus P

Meadow Beauty, Rhexia mariana P

Meadow Beauty, Rhexia virginiana P

Ladies Tresses, Spiranthes spp. P

Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana B, H, P

Blue Phlox, Phlox divaricata B, P

Downy Phlox, Phlox Pilosa B, P

Evening Primrose, Oenothera Biennis B, P

Mexican Primrose, Oenothera speciosa B, P

Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia humifusa B, P, F

Rough Skullcap, Scutellaria integrifolia B, H

Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana B, P

Stokes Aster, Stokesia laevis B, P

Wake Robin / Red Trillium, Trillium foetidissimum

White Indigo, Baptisia alba B, Bh, P, SB

Wild Petunia, Ruellia caroliniensis B, H, P

Violet Wild Petunia, Ruellia nudiflora B, H, P

Bumblebee on Liatris


Bumblebee on Baluina


Summer / Fall Blooms

Fall Aster, Aster ericoides

Purple Aster, Aster praealtus B, P

Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum B, P

Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum B, P

Mist Flower, Eupatorium coelestinum B, P

Compass Plant, Silphium laciniatum

Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta B, Bh, P, SB

Orange Coneflower, R. fulgida B, P, SB

Giant Coneflower, R.maxima B, P, SB

False Foxglove, Agalinis fasciculate B, Bh, P

Goldenrod, Common, Solidago altissima B, P

Sweet Goldenrod, Solidago odora B, P

Elm-leaf Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa B, P

Pineland Hibiscus, Hibiscus aculeatus B, H, P

Poppy Mallow, Callirhoe papaver B, Bh, P

Texas Star Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus B, H, P

Crimson-eyed Rosemallow,Hibiscus moscheutos B, Bh, H, P

Spotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata B, P

Ironweed, Vernonia altissima B, Bh, P

Jewel Weed, Impatiens capensis B, H, P

Liatris - Gayfeather, Liatris spicata B, P

Blazing Star, Liatris pycnostachya B, P

Button Blazing Star, Liatris squarrosa B, P

Carolina Lily, Lilium michauxii

Southern Swamp Lily, Crinum americanum

Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis B, H, P

Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica B, H, P

Monkey Flower, Mimulus alatus, M. ringens B, Bh, P

Whiteleaf Mountainmint, Pycnanthemum albescens, B, P

Mountainmint, P. tenuifolium B P

Azure Blue Sage, Salvia azurea B, H, P

Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea B, H, P

Partridge Pea, Cassia fasciculate B, P, SB

Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale B, P

Sunflowers - Ashy Sunflower, Helianthus mollis B, P

Narrow-leaved Sunflower, H. angustifolius B, P, SB

Jerusalem Artichoke, H. Tuberosus B, SB, F

Wild Blueberries