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15 Top Native Plants of the Northeast

Add these easy-growing native plants to your garden for lots of low-maintenance color through the seasons.

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    • Wild Anemone

      This easy-to-grow, easy-to-love plant thrives in moist soils rich in organic matter. Its large white flowers are a highlight of the spring border. A vigorous groundcover, it can happily fill in a large space within a growing season.

      Name: Anemone canadensis

      Growing Conditions: Shade to part sun and well-drained soil

      Size: To 2 feet tall

      Zones: 3-9

    • Yellow Lady's-Slipper Orchid

      This orchid is the queen of the spring garden. The stunning, slipper-shaped, yellow flowers are sure to attract attention. Note: While long-lived, yellow lady's slipper can be very slow to get established. Be patient with it!

      Name: Cypripedium parviflorum

      Growing Conditions: Part shade and moist, acidic soil

      Size: To 16 inches tall

      Zones: 3-7

    • Carolina Lupine

      Native all along the Eastern seaboard, Carolina lupine is a tough plant that offers showy pea-like flowers in spring and fuzzy foliage. It's a good-sized plant that has a nice presence in the middle of the border.

      Name: Thermopsis villosa

      Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

      Size: To 4 feet tall

      Zones: 3-10

    • Merrybells

      Merrybells are charming, easy-to-grow plants that offer cute, dangling yellow flowers in spring. Like many native plants, merrybells look best in mass plantings.

      Name: Uvularia grandiflora

      Growing Conditions: Shade and well-drained soil

      Size: To 2 feet tall

      Zones: 3-9

    • Virgin's Bower

      This tough plant offers multiple seasons of interest: Deliciously scented, starry white flowers cover the vine in midsummer. Then in fall, enjoy the fuzzy, tufted seed heads that look magical when they catch the evening light.

      Name: Clematis virginiana

      Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

      Size: To 8 feet tall

      Zones: 4-8

    • Foamflower

      Foamflower is a perfect groundcover to meander between clumps of established hostas or ferns. Related to coral bells, foamflower sports showy white flowers in late spring and early summer. Many fine selections are available including 'Jeepers Creepers', 'Spring Symphony', and 'Sea Foam'.

      Name: Tiarella cordifolia

      Growing Conditions: Part sun to shade and moist, well-drained soil

      Size: To 1 foot tall

      Zones: 3-8

    • Maidenhair Fern

      A gorgeous, non-invasive fern, maidenhair fern offers a graceful texture for shady places. It can be slow to grow so be patient; once it gets established and forms a clump, it's worth the wait.

      Name: Adiantum pedatum

      Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, humus-rich soil

      Size: To 2 feet tall

      Zones: 3-8

    • Jacob's Ladder

      Native Jacob's ladder is a first-rate groundcover. A standout selection is the variegated 'Stairway to Heaven', which features pink, white, and green leaves and little blue flowers. Pair it with Canadian wild ginger, anemone, and coral bells for woodland magic.

      Name: Polemonium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven'

      Growing Conditions: Part sun, well-drained soil

      Size: To 1 foot tall

      Zones: 3-8

    • Trillium

      This early spring-blooming woodland wildflower sports brilliant white flowers atop glossy green leaves. The plant will slowly form beautiful clumps over time.

      Name: Trillium grandiflorum

      Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

      Size: To 10 inches tall

      Zones: 4-8

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      Woodland Iris

      This underused iris happily grows and blooms in partial shade. Its blue-violet flowers cover the grassy clumps of foliage in late spring and make an attractive accent to rock cress (Arabis) and creeping phlox (Phlox subulata). Several varieties are available and form fast-spreading (but non-aggressive) clumps within a few seasons.

      Name: Iris setosa

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, moist, well-drained soil

      Size: To 14 inches tall

      Zones: 3-6

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      American Coral Bells

      Native coral bells aren't as common as their hybrid cousins, but these tough plants are perfect for the garden. Newer selections add to the beauty with attractively variegated foliage.

      Name: Heuchera americana

      Growing Conditions: Part sun and well-drained soil

      Size: To 1 foot tall

      Zones: 4-9

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      Eastern Bluestar

      We love this stalwart perennial and hope to see it used more in gardens. The tall plants sport blue, star-shaped flowers in spring. They're loved by migrating butterflies. Added bonus: These pest-free plants also have attractive yellow fall color.

      Name: Amsonia tabernaemontana

      Growing Conditions: Full sun, moist, well-drained soil

      Size: To 4 feet tall

      Zones: 4-9

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      Wild Ginger

      An almost perfect groundcover for shady spots, wild ginger features fuzzy, heart-shaped leaves. In late May, peek under the leaves for a glimpse of the hidden burgundy flowers.

      Name: Asarum canadense

      Growing Conditions: Shade and well-drained soil

      Size: To 10 inches tall

      Zones: 4-6

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      Swamp milkweed

      Milkweeds are butterfly favorites and this one is no exception. Despite its common name, swamp milkweed doesn't mind average garden conditions. Showy pink flowers appear in mid-summer and attract monarch butterflies.

      Name: Asclepias incarnata

      Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist soil

      Size: To 4 feet tall

      Zones: 3-6

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      Culver's Root

      This is a perfect perennial for the back of the border. White, pink, or blue blooms adorn tall stems in summer. It pairs beautifully with cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica).

      Name: Veronicastrum virginicum

      Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist soil

      Size: To 5 feet tall

      Zones: 4-7

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