Nature’s Best: Elevate Your Garden with Michigan Native Plants

Landscaping with native plants in Michigan is interesting since Michigan’s native plants and biodiversity offer you various distinctive characteristics non-native plants do not have. They include native trees, like Red Maple and Sugar Maple, native shrubs, native ornamental grasses, and of course, native perennials whose beauty is almost impossible to resist.

Nearly all those plants have been covered in our newest collection of the best native Michigan plants for landscaping. As native plants, they are all quickly adaptable to the Michigan climate; thus, you do not have to worry about their maintenance.

Moreover, these excellent plants are accessible since you can easily find them in the nearest local nurseries.

Best Native Michigan Plants For Landscaping 

Nestled within the heart of the Great Lakes, Michigan boasts a vibrant tapestry of native plants, each telling a story of the state’s rich ecological heritage. From the sandy shores of the lakes to its dense forests, these indigenous species have danced with the Michigan winds for ages.

Embarking on a journey through the state’s green wonders, we’ll explore the best native plants that not only beautify a garden but also resonate with Michigan’s natural melody. Prepare to be enchanted, as every leaf and petal has a tale waiting to unfold in your very own backyard.

1. Black Cohosh (Actaea Racemosa)

native michigan plants for landscaping
Black Cohosh (Actaea Racemosa)

By the time you see Black Cohosh, you will be amazed by its distinctive long clusters of tiny fluffy white flowers covering long stems tips. The native plant also has seed heads that adorn the ends of the beautiful flowers pack.

Not only the flowers but the green-toothed leaves are also captivating. This rhizomatous perennial can grow up to six feet tall, adding a vivid vertical statement to your native plant gardens.

native michigan plants for landscaping
Black Cohosh Flowers
native michigan plants for landscaping
Black Cohosh Fruits

As shade-loving plants, Actaea racemosa thrives in the partial to the full shade garden. Nonetheless, it still needs about 2-3 hours of morning sun to stimulate flowering.

Furthermore, this perennial favors moist soil, humus-rich, and moderately acidic to grow. Additionally, you need to watch out for leaves spots in terms of diseases.

2. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)

native michigan plants for landscaping
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia Hirta)

Bearing bright yellow flowers and dark brown centers, Rudbeckia hirta or Black-Eyed Susan looks similar to sunflowers since it belongs to the same Asteraceae family.

It grows 2-4 feet tall and has a long blooming period. Therefore, it is one of the best native Michigan plants for landscaping that will make a great match for your existing landscape.

native michigan plants for landscaping
Black-Eyed Susan in Sunny Day

Compared to other sunflower members, Black-Eyed Susan falls in the short-lived perennial group. Despite loving the sun, it will bloom longer in afternoon shade. It also loves well-drained, dry to moist, and acidic soil.

In addition, this drought-tolerant plant attracts birds and butterflies to have frequent visits. Suppose you want to cultivate this native perennial; cut off the seed head after a dry fall day to have the seeds.

3. Blue Giant Hyssop (Agastache Foeniculum)

native michigan plants for landscaping
Blue Giant Hyssop (Agastache Foeniculum)

A vertical growing perennial, Agastache foeniculum or Blue Giant Hyssop features attractive spikes of lavender flowers that beautifully bloom from early summer to early fall.

In addition, it bears licorice-like fragrant foliage that is commonly cooked into jellies and herbal tea. Knowing all these wonderful aspects, no wonder this deer-resistant perennial is famous among plant lovers and gardeners.

native michigan plants for landscaping
Blue Giant Hyssop Flowers

Furthermore, its growing conditions are not that tricky. Since it can grow well in full sun to partial shade, the choice of planting location becomes wider. It also prefers sandy, moist, but well-drained soil types.

As an easy-to-grow edible perennial with stunning features, Blue Giant Hyssop is an excellent choice to grow in butterfly gardens, cottage gardens, and even cut flowers!

4. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa)

native michigan plants for landscaping
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa)

It is a clump-forming native perennial that will pamper you with clusters of bright orange flowers and contrasting green lance-shaped foliage, where the flowers are a source of nectar and pollen for pollinators.

Therefore, they are attractive to butterflies, identically winged, or other beneficial insects that are happy to suck on their nectars. Additionally, the member of the Milkweed family is generally grown in home landscapes to add cheerful vibes, thanks to the vibrant blooms.

native michigan plants for landscaping
Butterfly Weed

Despite bearing the ‘Weed’ name, you will not be bothered by many maintenance tasks when you decide to plant this Butterfly Weed. As it favors soaking up under the sunlight, it is better to spare a spot with proper full sun exposure in your garden for this perennial.

It also prefers neutral to acidic soil. Moreover, you must maintain its soil moisture during the first year until established. After that, reduce it to occasional watering because it loves dry soils.

5. Canada Anemone (Anemone Canadensis)

native michigan plants for landscaping
Canada Anemone (Anemone Canadensis)

Perhaps, you are a little familiar with the appearance of this herbaceous perennial because its vivid white flowers are similar to Bush Anemone. However, they belong to different families and so do their characteristics.

Canada Anemone grows short with whorl foliage, while Bush Anemone has dark green, lance-shaped leaves. Even though both are bearing alluring blooms, Canada Anemone can thrive well in the Michigan climate since it is a native plant to the state.

native michigan plants for landscaping
Canada Anemone Shrubs

Moreover, this vigorous plant is very adaptable to various growing conditions. Nevertheless, it prefers part shade to shade light and moist soils.

Yet, it can quickly spread aggressively when the growing location is too favorable. Because of this, the dense plant inhibits the flowering. Therefore, dividing plants in the fall is necessary to avoid clumpiness.

6. Common Spiderwort (Tradescantia Ohiensis)

Common Spiderwort (Tradescantia Ohiensis)
Common Spiderwort (Tradescantia Ohiensis)

Its grass-like leaves that hang down and overlap each other may be why Tradescantia ohiensis is better known by its popular name, Common Spiderwort.

It also bears three-petaled purple flowers atop the brown stems, which at first glance look like orchids. They will exquisitely open their petals in the morning, welcoming you with their elegance to start your day.

native michigan plants for landscaping
Common Spiderwort Flower

Other than being charming, Common Spiderwort is also a handy native plant to grow. It copes well with various soil types and conditions, from wet to dry ones. Therefore, the water requirement is low.

This perennial also favors shade lighting levels to thrive; thus, make sure you spare a required spot to plant them.

7. Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon Hirsutus)

native michigan plants for landscaping
Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon Hirsutus)

Suppose you are interested in inviting hummingbirds to your garden or landscape. In that case, planting Hairy Beardtongue is the best decision you may ever make in terms of gardening.

This plant comes with stalked clusters of trumpet-shaped violet flowers with white lips and yellow stamens that hummingbirds favor to suck on their nectars. These alluring flowers will offer you beautiful blooms in summer, particularly from June to July.

Purple Hairy Beardtongue
Purple Hairy Beardtongue

Considering its fantastic appeal and benefits to the ecosystems, every effort in growing Penstemon hirsutus will be worth it! This drought-tolerant native plant can thrive in the sun to shade on thin, dry, well-drained soil conditions.

Also, thanks to its dazzling flowers, it is commonly grown in rain gardens and rock gardens as well as sold as cut flowers or dried flowers.

8. New England Aster (Aster Novae-angliae)

New England Aster Shrubs
New England Aster (Aster Novae-angliae)

Despite having a variety of eye-catching flower colors, from white to purple, the most commercialized New England Aster is the pink variant. This aster cultivar creates an enchanting color contrast that no one can even look away from.

It combines a rose pink-purple with a bright yellow in the center. No wonder butterflies and birds love to have frequent visits to the blooms.

New England Aster Shrubs
New England Aster Shrubs

In addition to its beauty, New England Aster is also quite easy to care for. It thrives in both full sun and partial shade in moist, rich soils. However, it can also handle medium moisture well.

Moreover, this versatile plant tolerates drought, making it easier to handle, especially when you forget to water them.

9. Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron Pulchellus)

Robin's Plantain Shrubs
Robin’s Plantain (Erigeron Pulchellus)

Though it looks alike Aster, Robin’s Plantain belongs to the Erigeron species – which is different from Asteraceae. They have daisy-like pink to purplish flowers with a bright yellow center on top of the delicate stalk that grows 12-18 inches high.

Compared to the Aster species, it has petals that are denser, neater, and more fragile. Its stems also have small branches that can grow some flowers.

Robin's Plantain Shrubs
Robin’s Plantain Shrubs

Unlike the previous species, Robin’s Plantain prefers partial shade to sun exposure to thrive. It also favors rich, moist, sandy soils. In addition, this hardy plant can tolerate drought and humidity, especially after establishment.

Since it grows dense, it will make a perfect flower bed and carpet for the Michigan landscape.

10. Showy Goldenrod (Solidago Speciosa)

Showy Goldenrod Flowers
Showy Goldenrod (Solidago Speciosa)

If you want to add transitional beauty to the season in your garden, plant Showy Goldenrod. This native plant has dark green foliage as a background against clusters of yellow flowers that bloom between late summer to early fall.

Also, thanks to those pretty flowers, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators are happy to perch on them.

Yellow Showy Goldenrod
Yellow Showy Goldenrod

Since it is less invasive than other goldenrods, taking care of Showy Goldenrod becomes easier.

Prepare a planting location that is exposed to sunlight and partial shade at the same time so that the seeds can develop properly. In addition, this native species can do well on moist to dry soil. However, it will grow aggressively in moist soils.

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11. White Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

native michigan plants for landscaping
White Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

Like Canada Anemone, White Yarrow or Common Yarrow is known for its lovely white blooms, only this one has a petite size and forms a flat head of flower clusters.

It is also among the best Michigan native plants for landscaping, whose flowers emit pleasant scents. Hence, it is often found in butterfly gardens since butterflies are attracted to the blooms. Besides the attractive flowers, it also grows alternate fern-like foliage that prettily decorates the plant.

White Yarrow Shrub
White Yarrow Shrub

This native plant can tolerate full sun to full shade areas and is easy to care for. It favors dry soil moisture; thus, you only need to water them once weekly.

Performing division every other year and removing the dead flowers to encourage other blooms are essential to maintaining a healthy plant. In addition, aphids and mildew are two common pests you may find during the life of the White Yarrow.

12. Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)

Aquilegia canadensis or Wild Columbine offers you the beauty of red petals and vibrant yellow center combinations from its appealing flowers. Especially when they are blooming, their petals look like they were painted by nature so beautifully.

These stunning flowers show perform best from late winter to late summer. Besides, its erecting bright stamens also attract birds to perch and pollinate.

Dark Pink Wild Columbine Flowers
Dark Pink Wild Columbine Flowers

In its natural areas, Wild Columbine grows in shaded woodlands. Therefore, planting them in partial shade to shade locations is highly suggested.

Moreover, this drought-resistant native plant prefers moist or dry with relatively poor soils. Considering its beautiful blooms and hardiness, we can safely say that it is one of the best Michigan native plants for landscaping.

Final Thought

Embracing Michigan’s native plants isn’t just about beautifying your landscape; it’s about preserving a piece of the state’s rich ecological tapestry. Each plant tells a story, echoing the rhythms of nature and the subtle dance of seasons. By choosing these hardy natives, not only are you promoting sustainability, but you’re also weaving a connection between the land and its history.

Let your garden be a living testament to Michigan’s natural heritage. Remember, every plant you sow is a step towards a greener, more vibrant future for the state.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are native plants better for the environment?

Absolutely! Native plants support local ecosystems, providing habitat and food for wildlife. Their deep roots prevent soil erosion and improve water quality. Moreover, they reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, making your garden eco-friendly. With native plants, you’re fostering a balanced and sustainable environment.

What perennials are native to Michigan?

Some native perennials to Michigan are included in our list of the best Michigan plants for landscaping, such as Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa), Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Blue Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis), Common Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), and Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

They have flowers in colors ranging from white, purple, orange, to red that will add cheerful vibes to any landscape they grow. Aside from several species mentioned, Purple Coneflower and Cardinal Flowers also belong to the Michigan native perennials.

What ground cover is native to Michigan?

Michigan is home to native ground cover that can thrive in full sun, partial shade, shade, or even all lighting levels. If you favor native ground cover that can cope well with full sun exposure, then Hardy Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi) and Dianthus ‘Flashing Light’ (Dianthus deltoides ‘Flashing Light’). They have vibrant pink and red shades (respectively) that will never fail to amaze you!

For the sun and partial shade-loving ground cover, you can try planting Irish Moss (Sagina subulata) or Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla). Meanwhile, the shade-loving native plants of Michigan for ground cover are Pachysandra, Lamium, and Golden Moneywort.

Can native plants thrive in urban areas?

Absolutely. While they’re adapted to Michigan’s natural landscapes, many native plants are resilient enough to thrive in urban settings. Whether you have a rooftop garden or a small backyard plot, there’s a native plant suited for your space. They bring a touch of wild beauty even to the most urbanized areas.

Where can I buy native Michigan plants?

Local nurseries often carry a selection of native plants. There are also specialized growers dedicated to Michigan’s native species. It’s crucial to buy from reputable sources to ensure you’re getting genuinely native plants. Additionally, some local environmental groups host plant sales or swaps.

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