Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 97: Native Alternatives to Common Plants

Video by Danielle Sherry and Carol Collins. Edited by Kara Demos.

Here at Let’s Argue About Plants, we’re big fans of native plants. Our gardens are filled with them, and for good reason: native plants are essential to the preservation and health of the local ecology. Aside from their benefits to the environment, many native plants are built to thrive in the conditions where we live. Today we’re talking about native alternatives to certain less-desirable plants. These undesirables might be invasive, or spread obnoxiously, or perhaps they are just prone to certain insects and diseases. For each, we’ll give you a native plant that is a far superior option. And don’t be fooled by our Connecticut location—we feature plants suitable for locales outside of the Northeast.

Expert testimony: Ulrich Lorimer is the director of horticulture for the Native Plant Trust in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Danielle’s Plants

Native: Eastern thimbleberry
Native: Eastern thimbleberry (Rubus odoratus, Zones 3–8)

In place of: Butterbur
In place of: Butterbur (Petasites japonicus, Zones 5–9)

 

Native: Trumpet honeysuckle
Native: Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens, Zones 4–9)
In place of: Trumpet vine
In place of: Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans, Zones 4–9)

 

Native: Bearberry
Native: Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Zones 2–6)

In place of: Rock cotoneaster
In place of: Rock cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis, Zones 4–7)

 

Carol’s Plants

'Amethyst Falls' American wisteria
‘Amethyst Falls’ American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens ‘Amethyst Falls’, Zones 5–9)

'Amethyst Falls' American wisteria on Catharine Cooke and Ian Gribble’s pergola
‘Amethyst Falls’ American wisteria on Catharine Cooke and Ian Gribble’s pergola

In place of: Chinese wisteria
In place of: Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis, Zones 5–8; pictured) or Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda, Zones 4–9)

 

Ginger Wine® ninebark
Ginger Wine® ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘SMNPOBLR’, Zones 3–7)
Ginger Wine® ninebark flower
Ginger Wine® ninebark flower
In place of: Burning bush
In place of: Burning bush (Euonymus alatus, Zones 4–9)​

 

Undaunted® ruby muhly grass (credit: Plant Select)
Undaunted® ruby muhly grass (Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘PUND01S’, Zones 5–9). Photo: Plant Select

In place of: Miscanthus
In place of: Crimson fountain grass (Cenchrus setaceus syn. Pennisetum setaceum, Zones 9–11) or similar seedy, nonnative species

 

Expert’s Plants

Ulrich Lorimer is the director of horticulture for the Native Plant Trust in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Mapleleaf viburnum (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)
Mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium, Zones 4–8). Photo: Ulrich Lorimer. In place of: (Euonymus alatus, Zones 4–8; pictured above)

 

Downy serviceberry (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)
Downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea, Zones 4–9). Photo: Ulrich Lorimer. In place of: Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana, Zones 5–9; not pictured)

 

Big bluestem (credit: Ulrich Lorimer)
Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii, Zones 4–9). Photo: Ulrich Lorimer. In place of: Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis, Zones 4–9; not pictured)

 

View Comments

Comments

  1. abbasi 10/24/2021

    Hi, amazing episode,
    Can you help me with finding a plant with low light needed?
    please please contact me on https://foodtouriiran.blogspot.com

  2. EcoSpeaker 10/30/2021

    Hi Folks!
    Great episode! I love that you're bringing attention to Wisteria frutescens. It's been lovely in my garden for years. I checked the USDA map, and, as I suspected, there are actually native pockets of it up into Illinois and over to Pennsylvania! Also, in my Milton, Ontario garden, I never needed to water it. While it might not be 'desert' drought-tolerant, it's certainly not a thirsty plant.

    Keep up the good work!

    Sean James

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Video

View All