8 Native Plants That Will Totally Work in Your Plant-Killing Yard

Fill your garden beds with these plants, all perfectly at home in our particular micro-climate.
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Our August 2016 issue features a guide to homesteading, including hydroponics, foraging, composting, bee keeping, alpaca herding, and a myriad of other ways to get your hands good and dirty.


1. Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida

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Common in ornamental plantings, the dogwood can also thrive among other hardwoods as an understory species. Dogwood is a food source for a variety of birds and squirrels, as well as white-tailed deer, so keep that in mind.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


2. Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis

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Ohio lists this grass, which forms short, dense tussocks, as a threatened species. It’s the Greta Garbo of grasses—give it a dry area with full to part sun and leave it alone so it can thrive.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


3. Black Tupelo Tree, Nyssa sylvatica

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Also known as the black gum, this deciduous tree sports glossy green leaves that turn spectacularly red and purple in the fall.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


4. False Indigo, Amorpha fruticosa

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This May–blooming shrub is native to the region (but not Ohio). It can be used in full sun, and extensive roots make it good as a windbreak. Plus, its resin acts as an insect repellent.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


5. Ironweed, Vernonia fasciculata

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There are a bunch of ironweed varieties, and they’ll naturally hybridize, but in general, look for deep purple blooms on tall stems with blade-like leaves, appearing in late summer.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


6. Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum

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If you’re looking for pollinator-friendly plants, try this pink summer-blooming flower—butterflies and long-tongued bees are big fans. It’s especially comfortable in moist to wet areas, and it can sprawl, so give it room.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


7. Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea

Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea
Native Americans used this plant to treat a variety of ailments, but today it’s most popular for its showy flowers that bloom in late summer. In bloom, it attracts insects and butterflies; songbirds will come for its seeds later in the fall.

Illustration by Megan Scherer


8. Yellow Buckeye Tree, Aesculus flava

 

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It’s not Ohio’s state tree (that’s Aesculus glabra), but it is the tallest member of the genus, reaching up to 80 feet in height. It’s also resistant to maladies like leaf blotch, leaf scorch, and mildew.

Illustration by Megan Scherer

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