What Native Plants Should I Buy?
“Try’em all, you might miss a good one” :-)
If you are new to native landscaping and looking for a good launching point, take a look at our native plant kits as they have a pretty solid pallet of native landscaping plants to start with, from shady, sunny, to wetter areas as well. From there, the sky’s the limit.
Think of your yard as different “rooms” with each area with its own distinct feel, painted in a different color (flowers), function (seating or hall way), decorations (featured plants, fountains), window treatments or walls to block the neighbors when necessary (shrubs and trees, fencing). Make sure that scale is appropriate. Many people I believe go too small with plant clustering and plant an uninspiring mishmosh of things (I often find myself doing the same when I do not have a plan, bad Nick!). Go big! Plant in larger groups of single species or limit a grouping to two or three complementary species to add dramatic effect.
Planting perennials will give the gift that keeps on giving. Perennials are plants that come back every year, year after year. Almost every plant we sell is a perennial, so feel confident that you are getting your moneys worth. Plus, native plants give you the added benefit of producing viable seed. This means you can collect the seed and put it into new places for it to germinate and flourish.
Getting Started With Native Plants is an excellent resource that West Cook Wild Ones has produced with the basics of garden preparation, plant selection, and maintenance.
Milkweeds, Milkweeds, Milkweeds:
With the dramatic decline of the Monarch Butterfly, milkweeds and pollinator favorites are the name of the game in today's native landscaping. Why? Milkweeds provide the exclusive food to the Monarch's caterpillar. Consider planting a milkweed and season long bloom times to aid in their recovery. Click here to learn more.
Other things to consider:
- Flowering purposefully timed throughout the season
- Complementary flower colors (see any art website to see these paired colors for ideas)
- Texture, think groupings of ferns, sedges, & grasses
- Foliage color: different ferns, sedges, & grasses have different shades of green, I am personally going to make a “green garden” that has only textural and various greens for interest
- Fall and winter interest such as form and color that is held throughout the winter, think Red Twig Dogwood and Little Bluestem grass.
- Perhaps a featured plant(s) such as White Wild Indigo, where you may only need a few
- Plant preference (shade vs. sunny, wet vs. normal or dry conditions, etc.) pick something that is not just tolerant or your site, but prefers that spot, you will be happier in the long run.
If you need further help designing your garden, please check out the following folks:
In the western suburbs: Good Natured Landscapes
In the City and near suburbs: Sustainable Garden Coach
Unfortunately we do not officially offer garden coaching at this time, unless you catch us at a native plant sale :-)