Native Plants

Native Plants of Maine for Landscaping

Native plants are beautiful, efficient, and tough. The last one is especially important in landscaping because many of our native plants are perfect for Maine’s climate. Below you will find some of the most popular choices among Maine natives:

Blueberry

A member of the rose family, wild blueberries are a fast-growing shrub that can produce tasty fruit in the spring and summer. They take a few years to grow from seed, but once they do, they are one of the most vigorous native plants for Maine landscaping, especially if you live in a wet climate. Some native varieties of blueberry are: northern highbush, rabbiteye, and lowbush.

Wild Ginger

Also known as wild ginseng, wild ginger is a small spreading ground cover that grows best in moist to wet soils but can tolerate dry and sandy soil. The shiny green leaves form a tangle of thick foliage that can spread rapidly with the help of its rhizomes. It is a native plant that can tolerate shade and thrive in full sun. Wild ginger produces clusters of white flowers in the spring that are fragrant and attractive to bees. Plant it near streams or ponds where it will attract birds.

Honeysuckle

A perennial shrub with colorful flowers that smells like sweet nectar, honeysuckle will grow well in various soils, including dry, moist, sandy, and clay. It can also tolerate shade and prefers to grow in an area with morning sun and afternoon shade. It spreads rapidly by sending out creeping stems from the root system. Honeysuckle is a beautiful flowering shrub that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It also produces edible fruit in the fall that is delicious and nutritious when eaten fresh or made into jelly or syrup.

Cowslip

A small, low-growing plant with colorful flowers blooming in pink, purple and white, cowslips are excellent ground cover plants for Maine landscaping as they tolerate shade and grow well in full sun. They produce a sweet-smelling flower that attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The foliage of cowslips is green in summer and turns yellow in the fall. Like other wildflowers, cowslips are easy to grow from seed. They also spread quite rapidly through rhizomes and can quickly become invasive if you do not remove unwanted plants when they are small.

Wild Rice

This small annual plant, wild rice, is a perennial by bloom. It grows best in dry to moist soil and will tolerate wet soil. It is a variety of rice that can be harvested twice per year and is edible after the grain has been harvested. Wild rice lands well where it will attract birds and butterflies that will help control its spread. One of the most attractive features of wild rice plants is their small, bright yellow flowers that bloom in spring.

Virginia Bluebell

This plant grows best in slightly moist soils but can tolerate dry sandy soil. It spreads quickly with its rhizomes’ help and can grow very invasive if left unchecked. The fragrant blue-purple flowers that bloom in spring are followed by small (1-3mm wide), edible blue-black berries that are edible when still unripe but do not taste great when ripe. Virginia bluebells need full sun, full or partial shade, and well-drained soil.

Common Milkweed

A beautiful perennial plant, milkweed grows well in moist soil but can tolerate dry soil. It spreads rapidly through rhizomes and may become invasive if you do not keep it in check. It is a popular plant that provides nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Many species of milkweed are native to the U.S. Still; common milkweed is one of the most popular for Maine landscaping as it is the largest native species with brilliant purple flowers that bloom from July to September.

Virginia Creeper

A popular vine for Maine landscaping, the Virginia creeper grows very easily when planted in moist soil. It tolerates dry soil but should be rinsed in dry areas to prevent wilting. It spreads quickly through rhizomes and can climb to heights of 50 feet with the help of its fast-growing tendrils. It can climb trees and will grow best on a trellis or strong fence that has been anchored down in cement. The foliage of the Virginia creeper is showy, and the flowers are fragrant.

Hollyhock

A member of the sunflower family, hollyhocks are popular annual plants in Maine landscaping, but they can also be grown as herbaceous perennials. They grow best in full sun to partial shade and tolerate poor soil as long as it is not waterlogged. They produce a long-lasting cut flower that can be dried and used throughout the year. They are best grown from seed early in the spring.

Blue Flag

This perennial plant grows best in wet soil and eventually produces purple flowers followed by blueberries in the fall. The leaves are aromatic and aromatic when crushed. It is invasive but can be controlled if you remove it before it matures by cutting the top growth off if you live in a dry climate or removing the flower heads before they open to deter the plant from producing more flowers.

Cardinal Flower

A popular plant for Maine landscaping, this herbaceous perennial is well-known for its showy red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It grows best in moist to wet soil but can tolerate dry soil. Cardinal flower grows quickly and can be invasive if not managed well. It spreads through rhizomes and cuttings, so it can become a nuisance if you do not remove it regularly. You will need to prune it back often to keep it under control as it can grow to be eight feet tall quickly.

Candytuft

A popular ornamental annual herb, candytuft is an attractive annual that grows well in moist to wet soil and tolerates dry soil. It is a member of the mint family and is also known as sweet peppermint and sweet bergamot. The small vivid blue flowers close up at night to attract moths, and many hummingbirds will visit its flowers throughout the night looking for nectar. The blossoms can also be used to make tea.

Forget-me-not

A popular perennial plant in Maine landscaping native to the Northern Hemisphere, forget-me-nots grow best in moist to wet soil but tolerate dry soil. They spread through rhizomes and self-sow readily but can be easily pulled out if you do not want a patch of forget-me-nots growing in your yard. They are a favorite plant for Maine landscaping as they grow well in acidic soils and attract butterflies and bees. The flowers bloom in late spring, and the leaves turn red or green in the fall.

Butterfly Flower

This plant is not always considered a perennial, although it is hardy. It spreads quickly by seed, rhizome, and offshoots. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies as well as bees. The leaves are round, and the seed heads form small pods that dry up in weeks. It grows best in moist soils but will tolerate dry soil in the summer months if you water it regularly.

Yarrow

Though it is not native to Maine, this popular herbaceous perennial can become invasive in some areas. It prefers moist soil but will tolerate dry soil as well. The small white or pink flowers are followed by seeds that are used for medicinal purposes. It attracts butterflies and bees, and the flowers can be dried for later use.

Yellow Sweet Clover

A popular choice for a perennial ground cover, this clover is native to the U.S. and is not invasive. It grows quickly and gradually fills in areas that have been mowed or tilled. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well. Its flowers are followed by small edible yellow fruits that can be eaten fresh, dried, ground into flour, or used as an herb.

Queen Anne’s Lace

This herbaceous perennial grows in moist shade and water well. The leaves are smooth and velvety. The inflorescence blooms in midsummer to early fall, followed by the fruit that forms after a few months. The plant spreads rapidly through rhizomes and can become invasive when not managed well.

Goldenrod

An annual herbaceous perennial, this plant will not grow to maturity without being fertilized with rich organic matter such as manure and decaying vegetation. It is native to the U.S. and can become invasive when not managed well. The goldenrod grows best in partial shade but will also tolerate full sun. The leaves are arranged in terminal groups, and it is easy to tell which species of goldenrod by the color of the flowers, which fall off after they have opened.

Wild Onion

The wild onion is a perennial herbaceous plant, but it can be treated as an annual if you do not wish it to spread through suckers or seeds. It prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soil conditions as well. The plant can easily spread by rhizomes and will speed up if not kept in check by regular removal. It is best planted with an herbicide if you do not want it to spread. It rots rapidly when left in the wet, so keep it out of puddles or waterlogged areas in your yard.

Blue Vervain

This perennial herbaceous plant is native to the U.S. and grows best in full sun with well-drained soil. It is attractive to butterflies and bees and can be grown from seed or by transplanting rooted pieces. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a distinctive kidney shape. The blue flowers grow on stems above the leaves in late spring or early summer.

Porcelain Flower

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers to grow in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. It is a hardy plant that does not need to be watered regularly but needs the soil to be moist. It is native to the U.S. and grows best in acidic, chalky, or sandy soils. Small edible fruits follow the flowers, and pollen from the male flower is a great food source for honeybees. The leaves are edible and can be used fresh or dried out.

Wild Mint

This perennial herbaceous plant grows in moist to wet soil and prefers full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Native to the U.S., it will spread quickly by rhizomes and can become invasive if not managed properly. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and are perfect for drying on cranes. The blossoms are small, white, and tubular. They are good for Maine landscaping by attracting butterflies and bees.

Jewelweed

This perennial herbaceous plant is native to the U.S. and grows best in moist soils but can tolerate dry soil. It grows best in full sun or shade and does not require frequent watering. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and are used for dyeing wool blue or red. When dried out, the leaves make suitable mulches around vegetables, flowers, and trees to help reduce weeds and control pests. The flowers do not last long, but they attract butterflies and bees.

Goatsbeard

A perennial herbaceous plant, this beautiful plant will not tolerate drought well but does fine in wet winter soils with little to no summer drought conditions, or it may rot completely. It prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and give gray-green or gray-blue color. The stems are attractive to butterflies and bees, particularly when dried out.

Wild Peony

Another perennial herbaceous plant native to the U.S., this perennial plant grows best in moist soil with a lot of summer rainfall or humidity. It is a hardy plant that will not tolerate drought well but can tolerate dry soils if it has enough moisture to survive the dry months. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dissected into smaller leaves by mowing them down with a lawnmower. The flowers are white, pink or purple and only last a day.

Purple Loosestrife

This is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows best in full sun to partial shade but will also tolerate very dry soil. It is native to the U.S. and will grow in wet soils but does not need to be watered regularly if mulched with leaf litter or compost regularly. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a silvery-green appearance when dried out by mowing them down with a lawnmower. The flowers are purple-pink and attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds when they bloom in mid-summer.

Wild Lettuce

This perennial herbaceous plant grows best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. It is native to the U.S. and will spread quickly by rhizomes if not managed properly. It does not need to be watered regularly but can become invasive where favorable conditions allow it to grow rapidly and form a thicket over time. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. It requires rich soil but dries out quickly due to its high water content.

Stinging Nettle

This perennial herbaceous plant is native to the U.S. and is probably the most well-known invasive plant to avoid when it comes to Maine landscaping. They are very common natural growths in grassy areas, but they self-seed rapidly, can be difficult to control, and spread quickly if not kept in check. It has white flowers and stinging hairs, but these are easy to avoid once you learn how. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem, have a green appearance when dried out, and are used for dyeing wool red or yellow.

Monkshood

This perennial herbaceous plant requires moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun and does not need frequent watering. It grows best in acidic, chalky, or sandy soils. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are white, yellow or pink and only last a day. They are edible but make your skin itch, so they should not be eaten raw.

Field Bindweed

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. Native to the U.S., it has a fast growth rate and is difficult to control, even if it is not a fast-growing invasive weed. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. It requires rich soil but dries out quickly due to its high water content.

Common Mullein

This perennial herbaceous plant grows in full sun but tolerates partial shade. Native to the U.S., they will spread quickly by rhizomes if not managed properly. They do not need to be watered regularly but can become invasive where conditions are favorable for their rapid growth and spreading over time. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. They are edible but taste awful in your raw state, so they should not be eaten raw.

Alpine Clover

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun and does not need frequent watering. It grows best in acidic, chalky, or sandy soils. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs or as an organic fertilizer for gardens and lawns. The flowers are purple and only last a day.

Evening Primrose

This perennial herbaceous plant grows best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. Native to the U.S., they will spread quickly by rhizomes if not managed properly. They do not need to be watered regularly but can become invasive where conditions are favorable for their rapid growth and spreading over time. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are yellow or white and only last a day.

Autumn Saffron

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well. It is native to the U.S., but the plant can be invasive in U.S. states where it has been introduced. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are purple and only last a day.

White Bracted Pincushion Flower

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well. It is native to the U.S., but the plant can be invasive in U.S. states where it has been introduced. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are white and only last a day.

Purple Coneflower

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It is native to the U.S., but the plant can be invasive in U.S. states where it has been introduced. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a glossy appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers can be white or purple and only last a day.

Dogbane

This perennial herbaceous plant requires moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun and does not need frequent watering. It grows best in acidic, chalky, or sandy soils. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. They are edible but taste awful in your raw state, so they should not be eaten raw.

Summer Pulsatilla

This perennial herbaceous plant grows best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. Native to the U.S., they will spread quickly by rhizomes if not managed properly. They do not need to be watered regularly but can become invasive where conditions are favorable for their rapid growth and spreading over time. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are red and only last a day.

Woodland Cinquefoil

This perennial herbaceous plant grows best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. Native to the U.S., they will spread quickly by rhizomes if not managed properly. They do not need to be watered regularly but can become invasive where conditions are favorable for their rapid growth and spreading over time. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are pink or white and only last a day.

Wild Indigo

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. Native to the U.S., it has a fast growth rate and is difficult to control, even if it is not a fast-growing invasive weed. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are blue and only last a day.

Red Clover

This perennial herbaceous plant prefers moist soil but tolerates dry soils. It grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade as well. It is native to the U.S., but the plant can be invasive in U.S. states where it has been introduced. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are white and only last a day.

Marsh Jasmine

This perennial herbaceous plant grows best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. It is native to the U.S., but the plant can be invasive in U.S. states where it has been introduced. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs on the stem and have a fine appearance when dried out as mulch leaves around flowers, lawns, or shrubs. The flowers are green and only last a day.