There has been a lot of buzz in the last few years about landscaping with native plants. The United States has a serious problem with invasive plant species like kudzu, English ivy, or star-thistle. These plants have been introduced to areas where the native plants simply can’t compete, and they can cause serious harm to local ecosystems. Even if a non-native plant is relatively harmless, the fact that it didn’t evolve in a specific region means it will be very high maintenance when compared to native species. Using native or indigenous plants for New Jersey landscapes is not only beneficial for the environment but also your time.
Here in New Jersey, we have hundreds of native plant species that are not only beautiful, but can also help to conserve our state’s natural landscape while simultaneously saving time and money! But which native plants would be best for your garden? We’ve compiled a sampling of native plant species to get you started, suited for the various light, soil, and water conditions here in New Jersey.
Flowers are the crown jewel of any garden. Planting commercially available native plant species with an eye toward spreading out their blooming periods will keep your garden colorful from Spring to Fall. New Jersey has many native flowering plant species, but these are not only eye-catching, they will also attract a variety of different pollinators to your yard.
A spring ground cover plant, the wood anemone enjoys moist-to-wet soil and shady corners where the sun won’t scorch its leaves.
Blooming from April to May, this perennial will die back in mid-summer, then return the following spring.
Great Blue Lobelia
Sporting bold, blue flowers and growing to a height of 2-3 feet, the Lobelia will stand out in your landscape. It is also a lover of wet soil but prefers partial sun.
The Lobelia blooms from July to September, after many other flowers have faded, so you can enjoy its color through the early days of fall.
Also known as Woodbine, this is a great alternative to the invasive Japanese honeysuckle. Though it doesn’t produce as strong a fragrance, it does boast bright orange blossoms.
The Woodbine loves the full sun and well-drained soil, so it’s perfect for the higher, sandier places in your yard.
Shrubs and Bushes
Shrubs, hedges, and bushes form the structure of a landscape, like the walls of a house. Choosing the right shrubs to form the basis of your landscape can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. These options can work in most gardens and landscapes, while also adding interest to your design.
This species is one that can be tailored to suit your needs. It can be kept small and shrub-like through pruning, or shaped and allowed to grow as a tree. It bears small, white flowers in the spring that attract butterflies, and is specifically host to the Summer Azure Butterfly.
The Stiff Dogwood prefers wet soil and partial shade but can be adapted to drier soils if necessary.
These small bushes are similar to a blueberry, and produce both flowers and small, white-blue fruits. They like sandy soil with good drainage and have low water requirements. Preferring partial shade,
Dwarf Huckleberry shrubs can easily fill in the corners of a shady flower bed.
Also called Wintergreen, this plant is a low-growing ground cover that produces small, bell-like white flowers that are later replaced with bright red berries. Its root tendrils grow underground, so it will form plant colonies as it grows and spreads.
The Eastern Teaberry can tolerate almost any soil or light conditions, but will flower best if given bright, partial sun.
These add scale and dimension to a landscape, drawing the eye upward and encouraging the viewer to appreciate the garden as a whole. It is always good to keep in mind how a tree will look throughout the year, whether to choose evergreen or deciduous trees, and how tall a tree may get over the years. With that in mind, these trees can help anchor your landscape while providing beauty all year long.
A majestic, large tree, the Sugar Maple is probably best-known for its striking red and yellow fall foliage. It can tolerate most soil types, moisture levels, and light conditions, though its leaves can scorch during droughts.
The lovely Sugar Maple is an excellent shade tree that would be a commanding centerpiece in any landscape.
This coniferous tree features long, sloping branches and tiny, silvery-brown cones. It prefers moist soil, partial shade, and can be shaped into a hedge through consistent pruning if desired.
The Eastern Hemlock tree’s graceful shape and evergreen nature will add color and drama to your landscape design year-round.
Eastern Red Cedar
A semi-evergreen, this tree can vary in color from silvery-blue-green to dark-green, and the female tree bears small, blue berries. Also known as Virginia Juniper, it can tolerate most extremes of temperature and moisture, from drought to monsoon.
The Eastern Red Cedar can be pruned to develop into tall, slender cones, or allowed to expand into spreading giants in larger landscapes.