Native Plants

Native Plant List – Kentucky and Tennessee

This is a "starter" list of native plants for Kentucky and Tennessee. It is intended for residential or commercial landscapers who want to create attractive and varied native landscapes.

Kentucky and Tennessee Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Soil Moisture Heights     Comments
Red Maple Acer rubrum F W- D 50-75' Buds and young twigs are red; Great fall color
Downy Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea F A-D 15-25' Yellow - orange, red fall color, white flowers (Apr)
River Birch Betula nigra F W-A 40-70' Yellow fall color
Hickory Carya spp. F A-D 50-80' Rich gold fall color; Nuts eaten by mammals and birds
Redbud Cercis canadensis F A-D 20-30' April cluster of rosy pink flowers line branches and trunk
Yellowwood Cladrastis kentukea F A 40-60' Flowers after 12-18 years, fragrant and white
Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida F-P A-D 20-30' White or pink flowers Apr-May
American Beech Fagus grandifolia F-P A 85+' Nut in fall attacts birds, mammals, humans
American Holly Ilex opaca F-P A-D 20-40' To insure fruit, 1 male neededper 2-3 females
Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana F A-D 40-50' Offers nesting and cover to birds
Sweetgum Liquidamb. styraciflua F W-A 60-85' Brilliant scarlet-red to red-purple fall cover
Tulip Tree, Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera F A 70-90' Large tulip-like flowers are yellow- green-orange May-Jun
Blackgum Nyssa sylvatica F A-D 30-60" Scarlet red autumn color
American Hophornbeam Ostrya virginiana F A 25-40' Fall foliage is pale yellow
Oak Quercus spp. F Var. 35-80' Human, birds, mammals, butterflies enjoy oaks
Carolina Buckthorn Rhamnus caroliniana P-S A-D 20' Yellow-green flowers in May; berries eaten by birds
Rusty Black. Viburnum Viburnum rufidulum F-S A-D 20-25' Creamy white clusters of flowers in May

Kentucky and Tennessee Shrubs

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Soil Moisture Heights     Comments
Red Chokeberry Aronia arbutifolia F W-A 6-11' Red berries on shrub eaten by mammals and birds
Beautyberry Callicarpa americana F A 3-6' Lav-pink flowers, purple berries; yellow color (fall)
New Jersey Tea Ceanothus americana F-P D 3' Short spikes of tiny white flowers in June
Buttonbush Cephalanth. occidentalis F-P W-A 5-12' Spherical white blossom heads
Sweet Pepperbush Clethra alnifolia F W-A 5-10' Sm. white fragrant flowers in Aug; yellow-orange (fall)
Strawberry Bush Euonymus americanus P-S A 4-6' Purplish flowers (May); red seed pods attract birds
Wild Hydrangea Hydrang. arborescens P-S A 3-6' Clusters of greenish-white flowers Jun-Jul
Oakleaf Hydrangea Hydrangea quercifoia P-S A 3-6' Reddish-orange to purplish-brown color in Autumn
Shrubby St. Johns Wort Hypericum prolificum F A-D 1-4' Bright yellow flowers
Possumhaw Holly Ilex decidua P-S W-A 12-20' Red berries eaten late in season by birds
Winterberry Ilex verticillata F W-A 6-12' Red berries feed birds through cold season
Virginia Sweetspire Itea virginica P-S W-A 4-10' Fragrant white flowers; leaves red to purple in Autumn
Spicebush Lindera bezoin P-S A 6-12' Tiny yellow flowers (fragrant); berries for birds
Ninebark Physocarp. opulifolius P-S W-D 5-10' Yellow fall color; berries for birds; white flowers
Piedmont Azalea Rhododend. canescens P-S A 6-15' Fragrant white to pink flowers Apr-May
Pinxterbloom Azalea Rhod. periclymenoides P-S W-D 4-6' Large clusters of pink to purple frag. flowers Apr-May
Fragrant Sumac Rhus aromatica F D 2-6' Bright scarlet, orange, purple fall color; Aromatic
Carolina Rose Rosa carolina F W-D 3-4' Yellow-orange-red fall color, pink flowers May-Jul
American Bladdernut Staphylea trifolia P-S W-A 8-14' Drooping racemes of green-white bell-like flowers (May)
Farkleberry Vaccinium arboreum P-S D 20' Twisted branches; Crimson fall color; Black. berries
Arrowwood Viburnum Viburnum dentatum P-S W-A 6-12' Flowers May-Jun; Small blue-black berries in fall

Kentucky and Tennessee Perennials - Sun

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Soil Moisture Heights     Comments
Bluestar Am. tabernaemontana F-P A 3' Small pale blue flowers in May; butterflies
Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa F D 1-2' Clusters of brilliant orange flowers Jun-Aug
Aster Aster spp. P-S A-D 1-5' Will grow in low nitrogen soil; Attracts butterflies
Tickseed Coreopsis spp. F-P A-D Var. Bright Yellow Flowers
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea F A-D 3-5' Purple, long- lasting flowers summer-fall
Joe-Pye-Weed Eupatorium spp. F A 5-9' Attracts butterflies
Purple-hd. Sneezeweed Helenium flexuosum F A 1-4' 1" flowers; purplish-brown disks
Swamp Sunflower Helianth. angustifolius F W-A 5-7' 3" yellow rayed flowers
Blazing Star Liatris spp. F D 2-5' Liberally set with purple flowers
Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa F-P A-D 3-4' Pink-lavender clusters; tubular florets Jun-Jul
White Beard-tongue Penstemon digitalis F A-D 3+' Pale lavender to white flowers May-Jun
Summer Phlox Phlox paniculata F-P A 2-4' Magenta, pink, or white flower clusters May-Jun
Silverleaf Mtn. Mint Pycnanthemum incanum F A-D 2-4' Small purple flowers above whitened upper leaves
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia fulgida F A 2-3' Deep yellow flowers with dark brown disks Jul-Aug
Wrinkle-leaf goldenrod Solidago rugosa F W-D 3-7' Do well in any well-drained soil
Ironweed Vernonia gigantea F W-A 7' Large, loose clusters of red-purple flowers

Kentucky and Tennessee Perennials - Shade

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Soil Moisture Heights     Comments
White Baneberry Actea pachypoda P-S A 1-2.5' White flowers in spring; poisonous berries Aug-Sep
Wild Columbine Aquilegia canadensis P-S A-D 1-2.5' Unique red and yellow flowers attract hummingbirds
Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum P-S A 12+" Spathe in Apr-May; red berries late sum-fall
Wild Ginger Asarum canadense P-S A 4-6" Dense creeping deciduous ground cover
Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum P-S A 1-2' Pink-lavender 5-petaled flowers Apr-May
Alumroot Heuchera americana P-S A-D 2' Light-green foliage with bronzy veining & edges
Crested Iris Iris cristata P-S A-D 4-8" Pale lavender-blue crested flowers Apr-May
Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis P-S W-A 2-4' Brilliant red tubular flowers adorn stem Jul-Sep
Wild Blue Phlox Phlox divaricata P-S A 12-18" Fragrant lavender-blue flowers Apr-May
Jacob's Ladder Polemonium reptans P-S A 12-18" Terminal clusters of blue bell-shaped flowers in April
Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum P-S A 18-30" Small white-green bells hang from leaf axles
Solomon's Plume Smilacina racemosa P-S A 1-3' Plume of tiny starry flowers in May
Wreath Goldenrod Solidago caesia P-S A 2-3' Tiny golden flowers on bluish-cast stem
Foamflower Tiarella cordifolia P-S A 6-12" Evergreen ground cover; feathery white flowers (Apr)

Sun Exposure Soil Moisture Drought Tolerance
F = Full Sun W = Wet E = Excellent
P = Part Sun A = Average G = Good
S = Shade D = Dry M = Moderate
P = Poor