Virginia’s rich and diverse ecology almost compels you to incorporate native plants into your landscape. Local plants offer more support to wildlife, maintain biodiversity, and are adapted to the climate. They require far less care than their exotic counterparts and save you time and money with their minimal demands. Here is an introduction to just a few of the native plants for Richmond, Va.
Eastern Rose Mallow
A salt marsh and wetland species, these elegant beauties (pictured above) flower over a long period in the late summer to early fall. The creamy-white flowers have a deep red center and are a favorite of hummingbirds. They put on an impressive show, standing from 3-8 feet tall and performing well in sun or part shade. Rose mallow can be grown easily from seed, and will usually come back each spring after being cut back to a few inches from the ground.
Eastern Red Columbine
This short-lived perennial thrives in part shade and blooms from April to May. A favorite of hummingbirds, the bright, tubular flowers add vibrant cheer in spring. This lovely native plant for Richmond grows from one to three feet tall and will self-sow seeds each year, so you never need to worry about replanting.
Of the many dozens of varieties of milkweed, only four are native to Virginia. If you only choose one, Asclepias tuberosa is a good choice, as it’s a host plant for monarch butterfly larvae. This cheerful, orange bloom proliferates from June to August, and keeps a low profile, growing 12-30 inches tall. This is a flexible species, performing well in either sun or part shade and requiring no care to thrive.
Growing 4-8 feet tall, this is the largest and most impressive native lily in the region. A single plant has been recorded with up to 40 blooms. This lily loves to bask in full sun and bursts into bloom from July to September. The distinctive blooms are impossible to ignore and make great showy cut flowers indoors.
In a region sometimes plagued by deer and rabbits, the Christmas fern offers striking texture in the shade that is resistant to these midnight munchers. It stays green through Christmas, hence the name. This is a perfect plant to use in masses on slopes to prevent erosion. As long as there is some shade, it will perform well and reproduce slowly, over time.
This deciduous shrub has loose, gracefully arching branches and bright, green foliage. It erupts into stunning clusters of purple berries in fall and winter, providing visual interest and forage for wildlife. American beautyberry performs best in full sun to part shade, making it an ideal understory shrub or edge planting. This small shrub requires almost no maintenance and provides a splash of color when most deciduous plants are going dormant.
This is but a small sample of the many species native to our area. For a more comprehensive list, explore some of the resources provided by the state. Remember, a native landscape is one that gives more than it takes, providing you with more time spent enjoying your yard than maintaining it.
Looking to learn more about lawn care and gardening in Richmond? Visit our Richmond. Va., lawn care page.
Main image credit: Paul VanDerWerf, Flickr