If you’re planning a brand new garden this spring or looking to overhaul your current one, there’s no better choice than going for native flora. Choosing native flowers, shrubs, and trees can make caring for your garden easier since these plants are naturally adapted to your local climate. In addition, choosing native plants can provide extra living space for local wildlife, and you’ll have more opportunities to see them up close.
This is not an exhaustive list of native Maryland flowers, but it will hopefully be a good starting point for hopeful gardeners that want to keep native flora on their property. Choosing native flowers is a great option when you want to help support pollinators and other wildlife that have adapted to having these plants available.
The cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) blooms a stunning, vivid red from July through September. It can reach heights of 2-4 feet, and it prefers shade or partial shade and moist soil. The cardinal flower overwinters as an evergreen rosette of basal foliage, and it will die off if the rosette is covered by leaf litter, mulch, or other debris. These flowers excel at spreading themselves out, so leave some room during the first few years for more offsets to develop and bloom. Cardinal flowers are a great option for a pollinator garden.
The Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is another red beauty that blooms from April through July. It reaches heights of around 30 inches and prefers partial shade or partial sun and well-drained calcareous soil. These are another amazing option for pollinators. Their peak blooming season is during the time of year when ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in the state after a long migration. It is also a host plant for the Columbine Duskywing butterfly.
The Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) has a delicate white bloom from late May through June that will look stunning in any garden. While in full bloom, they can reach heights of up to 3 feet! They prefer full sun or light shade and can thrive in any soil type. The leaves of the foxglove beardtongue turn a lovely shade of red in the fall, so it will look stunning in your garden year-round. These flowers are preferred by bumblebees and other large bees, with the occasional visit from hummingbirds.
Great Blue Lobelia
The Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is another very delicate-looking flower that blooms in soft blues and violets from August through October. It can grow anywhere between 1-4 feet tall and prefers full sun to partial sun and wet soil. This delicate beauty mainly attracts swallowtail butterflies and bumblebees.
The Rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) is actually a flowering shrub with large white or pink blooms that have a vibrant red throat. It blooms from July through September and can grow between 4-7 feet tall. It prefers full or partial sun and wet soil. Rosemallow is a pollinator hotspot that is frequented by native Hibiscus Bees, hummingbirds, and orioles. It is also a host plant for many species of butterflies and moths.
Turk’s Cap Lily
The Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum) blooms yellow-orange or orange-red from July through August. It can grow 3-5 feet tall, prefers full sun to partial sun, and moist to wet soil. These flowers are frequented by hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies, but they are vulnerable to destructive wildlife—in particular, voles and deer. These animals have been wiping out native populations, so it’s best to keep these in a well-protected garden or enclosed greenhouse.
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