Native plants thrive under local conditions and require less maintenance once established. That means less water, less fertilizer, and less pesticides which makes for a healthier Earth. Plant a butterfly garden, a rain garden, or a small prairie-like area to replace a bit of grass. You’ll reduce the area you’ll have to mow!

We have a wonderful group of local native perennials that will play well with the other plants in your mixed bed.  If you need to screen an ugly view or fill a big space with low maintenance plants, we offer the big guys and the spreaders, too. We have wetland natives that might reduce the amount of water in that low spot in your yard or thrive by your birdbath. And gravel prairie natives can be perfect additions to your rock garden or berm.

“In order to be successful, natives just like any other plant need to be planted in the right place,” says Perennial Plant Manager Kyle Lambert. “We have a wide range of native perennials, trees, shrubs and grasses for areas similar to a savanna, open woodlands, prairie, or bog. Native plants grow in nature in a wide variety of habitats, sunny or shady, wet or dry.”

Monarch Butterfly & Caterpillar on one plant

Many times the relationship between plants and animals is very specific. The Monarch Butterfly can only lay its eggs on Milkweed, and its larvae only eat its leaves. Incorporating Asclepias (Milkweed) into your landscape is essential to Monarch butterflies and provides a summer learning experience with nature.

We recommend intermingling plants with different bloom times, colors, textures, or structure. For example, plant Sporobolus heterolepis/Prairie Drop Seed with Geum triflorum/Prairie Smoke. These two plants have different heights and contrasting foliage. Prairie Smoke blooms early offering color and a smoky burst. Consider attracting birds into view over winter by leaving up Echinacea/pallida or purpurea coneflower seedheads.

Now is a good time to plant natives so that they can get established before winter. Signs on site clearly state which plants are native to our Chicagoland area. Our staff is happy to assist with your selection. Some natives reseed easily or can be aggressive spreaders.

Natives for Sunnier Areas

Allium cernuum, Nodding Onion
Amorpha canescens, Leadplant
Asclepias (incarnata, tuberosa), Milkweed
Echinacea (pallida, purpurea), Coneflower
Geum Triflorum, Prairie Smoke
Penstemon digitalis, Beard Tongue
Sporobolus heterolepis, Prairie Dropseed

Natives for Shadier Areas

Carex (plantaginea, muskigumensis), Sedge
Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich Fern
Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells
Phlox divaricata, Woodland Phlox

Visit our Learning Gardens for inspiration. Areas around the parking lot of our Montgomery Road location function as a rain garden and a prairie garden with natives featured in both.

Listen to The Conservation Foundation Talks on Natives this weekend at both of our locations!