Video: Best-Performing Native Plants in my Garden


These days we’re all paying more attention to beneficial wildlife in our gardens, and to that end, looking for good native plants to grow. But which ones? Those official lists of state or regional natives don’t really help the aspiring eco-gardener make their choices. So many of the listed plants aren’t even in the trade! Instead, I always recommend asking experienced gardeners.

Gardeners like me, for instance. In this short video I gush about the 10 best-performing native plants I’ve ever grown, and by that I mean they look great and are easy-care. No fertilizers or fungicides needed. And except for the Oakleaf Hydrangea, no regular watering after the plants are established.

They are: Black-Eyed Susans, Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower, Spiderwort, Joe Pye Weed, Golden Groundsel, Amsonia, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Crossvine, and Redbud. And in the video description on YouTube I add three “bonus plants” that aren’t in the video for lack of decent photos of them: Ninebark, Penstemon and Little Bluestem.

Books and articles about the benefits of native plants are important but photos of plants fully grown and looking great in a garden setting are what’s needed for me to spend my actual money on plants that don’t look like much in the nursery or in catalogs. And I’m not the only one, by far. Even eco-gardeners respond to beauty, after all.


  1. Susan,
    Enjoyed your lovely video. I’ll review it again when I’m looking for natives to fill in my new garden in Worcester County. Should I use only the old fashioned cone flower, or will some of the new colors be also considered native?

    • The old fashioned (pure species) ones are recommended by most native-plant advocates. Also, some/many of the new varieties are short-lived.
      My video does include some cultivated varieties, though – the ‘Rising Sun’ Redbud and (in the text below) the ‘Husker’s Red’ Penstemon and ‘The Blues’ Little Bluestem. Susan

  2. Susan,

    Enjoyed the video, but you deal almost entirely with sun-lovers

    My Two favorite for the woodland garden are: Trillium,Bbloodroot, Twinleaf. Blue Cohosh, Wild Ginger, Wood Poppy, Spring Beauty, Black Snakeroot, Allegheny Spurge, Gold Star.

    Bill Plummer

  3. In western Virginia, the best performing natives in the garden are seedlings of planted cultivars that established themselves where they’re happy: New England, calico, and aromatic asters; Heuchera americana; blue-eyed grass; Yucca filamentosa.

    If seedlings of a white Geranium maculatum continue to appear, and bloom and reproduce in turn, I’ll add that to the list.

  4. One benefit to going native is what environmental journalist Michael McCarthy calls “landscape nostalgia.” Along with the artistry of the native landscape, our yards can remind us, and others who observe their beauty, of a time that once was:

    “There were lots of many things, then. Suburban gardens were thronged with thrushes. Hares galumphed across every pasture. Mayflies hatched on springtime rivers in dazzling swarms. And larks filled the air and poppies filled the fields, and if the butterflies gilled the summer days, the moths filled the summer nights, and sometimes the moths were in such numbers that they would pack a car’s headlight with beams like snowflakes in a blizzard, there would be a veritable snowstorm of moths, and in the end of your journey you would have to wash your windscreen, you have to sponge away the astounding richness of life. It was to this world, the world of the moth snowstorm, that I pledged my youthful allegiance.”

  5. Susan,

    Loved the video! I’m a wildlife biologist who’s training in Landscape Design to do what I call Habitat Gardening. Out here in California we have natives quite different, but same goal, help the ecology of the area. some of our natives are Salvia, California fuschia, and California buckwheat. Thanks for the info on eastern plants!


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