Natives for strategic locations in the yard

nancita(6)August 13, 2013

Hi all,
Tick tock. Running out of time this season to choose some bushes and trees to at least get a start in creating my ideal of natives in the yard.
So far, I have prioritized three locations; removing some pink flowering bush/tree in the front corner of the property on the South side; a bush on the tallish side to hide the side of the bulkhead from the side, also South side; and, a tree or some bushes to replace a rotted gate/fence and give some privacy from the street of the deck which is raised three feet on the west side.
If they were fragrant it would be even more special. Trying to bring some color a ittle at a time and attract butterflies. The landscaper is into te standards; dogwood (love it), mountain laurel )ditto), PJ rhodies (been there, done that),rose of sharon (seems every house around us has one. I want to steer away from green plants only. I am trying to replace what I have.
Any ideas would greatly help!
Thank you.

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If you can define what you mean by "natives" and your objectives for these areas, that would help. For example, rose of Sharon is certainly not native to north America and PJM rhodies are hybrids so not native either. And very few natives will have colored or variegated foliage although cultivated varieties of natives could.

Also, where you are located and the specific growing conditions of these 3 areas would be helpful as well.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 6:31PM
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Well, I am using natives but maybe really mean plants that are happy and are not fussy. I only use organic matter whengardening and am looking for plants that are not your typical ewe (don't know if that's spelled correctly) or boxwood. So, maybe azalea? What about butterfly bush? I reallydon't know.
I am West of Boston in Zone 6a.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 11:54AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

The native plant database has search by state and/or features. Not perfect and still has a southwest emphasis due to its roots, but should provide you with a list of natives to consider for your area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Native Plant Database Search

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Hi - I planted three butterfly bushes in my southwest facing front yard (Ohio) and they have brought in lovely blooms, bees, hummingbirds, but, unfortunately, only 4 yellow swallowtails. It's not their fault - the butterfly population is reported to be way down. Sooo - plant a butterfly bush or two for nectar and a bit of milkweed for laying eggs. Try a couple of sunflowers for good measure and the finches and the bees will be very happy. Best of luck!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Just for the record, butterfly bushes are not native to the US and are considered invasive in many areas of the country - certainly not an appropriate plant to be recommending on a Native Plants forum. As to attracting butterflies, Joe Pye weed - Eupatorium - is a great native alternative, although butterflies are attracted to pretty much any nectar-rich is the larvae that are much more specific in their feeding habits.

Nancita, while some native plants might be very appropriate for your landscape, I think what you are really looking for is low maintenance plantings. And these can include exotics as well as natives (just because a plant originates from another part of the world does not make it necessarily undesirable) and less common plants as well as the standards like yews and boxwoods.

A good local independent garden center should be able to help you with selection but I'd think about including lilac, hydrangeas, clethra, viburnums, dwarf conifers, ninebark and spiraea. Not all natives but many flower, none are overly aggressive or invasive and all are low maintenance.

One of my favorite non-green (variegated) plants is Goshiki false holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki') which has soft - not pokey - holly-shaped leaves and marvelous green-gold-cream marbled foliage that emerges with a slight reddish tint. Only just hardy for your area (zone 6) this plant combines beautifully with solid green foliage, gold foliage or anything with a cream variegation as well as anything with burgundy foliage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Goshiki false holly

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 6:58PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you all!
I am amazed and so very appreciative at all the wonderful people that take the time to reply to forums like this. It is incredibly helpful.
So, now I am going to check out the plants mentioned. Of course, I am familiar with some and will soon learn about new ones.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Don't fret ... you have some time yet, and nurseries are now having their end-of-season sales!

To add to the wonderful advice from Gardengal:

You may find the information linked below helpful:
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation's fact sheet on butterfly gardening (this is not region-specific, so you'll have to see what is suitable for your region AND for the butterflies of your region):

More specific for your region is the Massachusetts Butterfly Society; they have several links on their page at

Good luck and have fun!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:39PM
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