Melissa’s native plant picks – what to plant this year

By Melissa Nase, Manager of Land Stewardship

Every garden reflects the individuality and personal taste of its gardener.  Reasons for choosing specific plants can range from aesthetic values like color, texture, and shape to practical considerations such as space limitations, attracting specific pollinators, or even what was available at the local garden center.  Some gardeners prefer well-behaved plants, and maintain exceptional order while others prefer a more natural look, or even, shall we say, slightly unruly.  And there will be no judgments here!  There is a place for all these styles to coexist, in the name of happiness, beauty, biodiversity, and ecosystem health.

This year, for Schuylkill Center members, we’re offering pre-orders for our Spring Native Plant Sale, so you can start planning your garden now and pick up your plants in the spring.  For our Plant Sale Pre-Order, we’ve put together a list of our favorite native plants, with numerous options for any style of garden.

My gardening theory is that the least amount of mulch you can see, the better.  Accordingly, we’ve included a couple groundcovers to replace that non-native vinca and pachysandra.  Tiarella cordifolia ‘Running Tapestry’, foamflower, is a vigorous runner, spreading quickly to form a mat of heart shaped, mottled leaves.  It sends up creamy white flowering spikes throughout the spring and provides ample cover for wildlife.  If you have deeper shade, partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), is one to consider.  Partridgeberry is understated and delicate with small evergreen leaves, and bright red berries that persist through winter.

In the shrub layer, sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina) is a great option.  With its 2-4’ stature, sweet fern is the right height for planting along the foundation or incorporating with other perennial wildflowers.  The fern-like leaves are aromatic when crushed, and perhaps more importantly, deer resistant.

Not many of us have room for large canopy trees in our yards.  Instead, smaller understory trees can fill the void.  Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is the generalist among native understory trees, serving a broad range of ecological functions.  It grows under a wide variety of sun, moisture, and soil conditions, even adapting well to clay soils.  In late summer, the berries provide food for all types of wildlife including birds, and both large and small mammals, not to mention acting as larval host for a variety of Lepidoptera.

Take a look at this list and order form for the Plant Sale Pre-Order and feel free to inquire with any further questions.  Plant Sale Pre-Orders will be accepted through Friday, April 1.  In addition to these selections, our full offering of native plants will be available at our annual Spring Native Plant Sale during the last weekend in April.

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One thought on “Melissa’s native plant picks – what to plant this year

  1. To the ones you handpicked I must add that the Tiarella cordifolia is sometimes as fascinating as it is mind-boggling to grow. Slugs just love it and weevils will give you a hard time as well. Don’t get me wrong I would always choose to grow it no matter what, just preparing the gardeners for the battle. :) By the way stunning photo of the woodland pinkroot there! Lovely!

    Thanks, Irvine, professional garden maintenance at a local company

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