Garden Guide: Five native flowers for your autumn garden
The weather is cooling down quickly and chrysanthemums are front and center in every garden center to celebrate the changing season. There’s no doubt that mums are a very popular fall flower, but there are native options that are even better.
Why plant native?
Native plants are designed for our climate which makes them naturally low maintenance. These plants come back every year and usually pop up in the garden all on their own. They could be mistaken for weeds, but it’s important to leave them be.
Flowers are starting to fade now, but pollinators need them more than ever. Some butterflies like the famous monarch, as well as hundreds of other species, migrate south this time of year. It’s a long journey that takes a lot of energy to complete.
Native flowers to know about:
North American Aster (Symphyotrichum)
This group of plants are not true “Asters,” which are native to Eurasia, but they are in the same family of plants and look very similar. The flowers look very similar to chrysanthemums, but are better suited for our gardens.
The flowers look similar to daisies and bloom throughout the autumn months beginning in September. They are a great substitute for mums. The purple and lavender flowers from New York and New England Aster have quite the personality! The flowers actually close up at night or on cold days and reopen when the weather warms up and it’s sunny.
White wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)
This plant is closely related to the Aster plants described above and does very well in a shady garden. White wood aster are perennials and prolific at self-seeding. They usually sprout in August and look like look like weeds, but you will be so glad that you didn’t put these up when they start blooming in September. These plants don’t require any direct sunshine and will bloom until the first frost.
Mist flower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
These fuzzy flowers, look very similar to a popular annual called Ageratum. They are truly a butterfly magnet! The plant also appears in late summer and starts blooming usually around September and into October. Flower colors come in blue as well as pure white.
This is a controversial plant, that most people consider a weed, but it’s not! Weeds are an umbrella word to describe any plant that’s growing where it isn’t intended to, but Goldenrod has earned its place in our neighborhoods. Goldenrod is a keystone species, which means that if they did not exist our ecosystem would be disrupted. They are native flowers, and more than 100 species of local butterfly species feed off of this plant.
Goldenrod is a very aggressive plant that often grows in abandoned lots or even cracks on the street. They are not easy to get rid of and are not the best backyard landscape plant but deserve recognition for their contribution to our environment. In the right place, they can look beautiful!
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
This plant literally has the word “weed” in its common name, but its Latin name, Phytolacca Americana reveals that it is indeed another native plant. However this is one that you DO NOT want to keep.
Pokeweed is toxic for humans and can be deadly for pets. The foliage and berries are beautiful, but should be handled with gloves when removing. If the plant is out of sight, it’s probably best to leave it be. It’s an important food source for birds.
Enjoy some beautiful fall blooms in the video below: