Garden Photo of the Day

Favorite Natives of the Year

Beauties native to the Midwest

several monarch butterflies on goldenrods

Today’s photos are from Joseph in Indiana.

As we get into fall, I find myself always looking back on the plants I’ve seen that I’d like to add to my garden in the future. It is a lot of fun, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite plants of the year, specifically NATIVE plants. I garden in northern Indiana, so I mean native broadly to this part of North America.

close up of tiny pink flowersIn the spring, I see spring beauty (Claytonia virginiana, Zones 4–9) all over any wooded area, but I almost never see it in gardens. The individual flowers are small but are often produced in huge numbers, making a carpet of pink under the trees. I think a bunch of them under the big maple in my front yard would be perfect.

close up of small purple flowersAnother native woodland wildflower I rarely see in gardens is hepatica (Hepatica americana, Zones 3–9). It has beautiful flowers, and even better, unlike on most native spring bloomers the foliage stays up all summer so they don’t leave a blank spot in the garden. I finally planted a few of these at home, so I’m looking forward to seeing them bloom there.

close up of yellow trout lily flowersTrout lily (Erythronium americanum, Zones 3–8) is another wonderful little woodland ephemeral, with pretty speckled foliage and cheery yellow lilylike flowers.

close up of small white bloodroot flowersA final woodland spring ephemeral is bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis, Zones 3–8). The flowers don’t last long, but they sure are beautiful while they flower!

close up of hairy puccoonThis is a very special wildflower that I’ll probably never be able to grow at home but would love to find a spot for: hairy puccoon (Lithospermum caroliniense, Zones 3–7). It grows only in very dry, sandy soil, such as on the dunes next to Lake Michigan. I love seeing it flowering in the wild each spring.

close up of orange/yellow liliesLilies are a great part of any garden—so why not a native one? This is Lilium michiganense (Zones 3–8) with over-the-top brilliant red-and-orange flowers.

close up of Scarlet Bee balmScarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma, Zones 4–9) is very common in gardens, and for good reason—what a color! And why aren’t I growing it yet? I’m adding it to the list for next year, for sure.

close up of spotted bee balmSpotted bee balm (Monarda punctata, Zones 3–8) looks pretty different from the scarlet bee balm, but it is such a beautiful plant. While scarlet bee balm prefers wet soil, spotted bee balm thrives in dry spots. I think I have places for both of them!

several monarch butterflies on goldenrodsGoldenrods are underappreciated natives, and this is my favorite species, showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa, Zones 3–8). I love it because it is, as the name suggests, very showy. It also isn’t, in my experience, an aggressive spreader, so it fits better in a small garden. And finally, monarch butterflies just love it! I finally planted some at home this year, but this photo is from a wild population near Lake Michigan.

What natives looked good in your garden—or in the wild—this year? Send them into the GPOD. We’d love to see them!


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View Comments


  1. MohawkValley 10/05/2023

    I love the golden rod with the monarch butterflies !

  2. gardendevas 10/05/2023

    Thanks for sharing, Joseph! I was thrilled to have a Michigan lily show up on my northeast Ohio riverbank years ago. And we get plenty of goldenrod, asters, boneset, Joe Pye, rudbeckia galore, helenium, and glorious ironweed.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 10/05/2023

    An interesting post, I love Hepatica, but gave up on mine. Learned from you about Claytonia virginiana, which I have never-ever seen before- so pretty, and leaned that Monarchs like Golden Rod...never knew that until your post here!

  4. btucker9675 10/05/2023

    Love me some trout lilies! And that photo with Lake Michigan sparkling in the sun is gorgeous.

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