Garden Design

Episode 97: Native Alternatives to Common Plants

Here at Let’s Argue About Plants we’re big fans of native plants. Our gardens are filled with them and for good reason: native plants are essential to the preservation and health of the local ecology. Aside from their benefits to the environment, many native plants are built to thrive in the conditions where you live, too. Today, we’re talking about native alternatives to certain less-desirable plants. These undesirables might be invasive, or spread obnoxiously, or perhaps they are just prone to certain insects and diseases.  Instead, we’ll give you a native plant that is a far superior option.  And, don’t be fooled by our Connecticut location, we feature plants suitable for locales outside of the Northeast.

Expert testimony: Ulrich Lorimer is the director of horticulture for the Native Plant Trust in Framingham, MA.

Danielle’s Plants

In place of: Butterbur
In place of: Butterbur
Native: Eastern thimbleberry
Native: Eastern thimbleberry

Eastern thimbleberry (Rubus odoratus, Zones 3-8)

In place of: Butterbur (Petasites japonicus, Zones 5-9)

Native: Trumpet honeysuckle
Native: Trumpet honeysuckle
In place of: Trumpet vine
In place of: Trumpet vine

Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens, 4-9)

In place of: Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans, Zones 4-9)

Native: Bearberry
Native: Bearberry
In place of: Rock cotoneaster
In place of: Rock cotoneaster

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Zones 2-6)

In place of: Rock cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis, Zones 4-7)

Carol’s Plants

'Amethyst Falls' American wisteria
‘Amethyst Falls’ American wisteria
'Amethyst Falls' American wisteria on Catharine Cooke and Ian Gribble’s pergola
‘Amethyst Falls’ American wisteria on Catharine Cooke and Ian Gribble’s pergola
In place of: Chinese wisteria
In place of: Chinese wisteria

‘Amethyst Falls’ American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’, Zones 5-9)

In place of: Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis, Zones 5-8) or Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda, Zones 4-9)

Ginger Wine® ninebark
Ginger Wine® ninebark
Ginger Wine® ninebark flower
Ginger Wine® ninebark flower
In place of: Burning bush
In place of: Burning bush

Ginger Wine® ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘SMNPOBLR’, Zones 3-7)

In place of: Burning bush (Euonymus alatus, Zones 4-9)​

Undaunted® ruby muhly grass (credit: Plant Select)
Undaunted® ruby muhly grass (credit: Plant Select)
In place of: Miscanthus
In place of: Miscanthus

Undaunted® ruby muhly grass (Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘PUND01S’, Zones 5-9)

In place of: Crimson fountain grass (Cenchrus setaceus syn. Pennisetum setaceum, Zones 9-11) or similar seedy, non-native species

 

Expert’s Plants

Ulrich Lorimer is the director of horticulture for the Native Plant Trust in Framingham, MA.

Mapleleaf viburnum (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)
Mapleleaf viburnum (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)

Mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium, Zones 4-8)

In place of: Burning bush (Euonymus alatus, Zones 4-8)

Downy serviceberry (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)
Downy serviceberry (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)

Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea, Zones 4-9)

In place of: Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana, Zones 5-9)

Big bluestem (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)
Big bluestem (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii, Zones 4-9)

In place of: Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis, Zones 4-9)

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