Looking to create a sustainable landscape for your home? Populating it with plants native to your region is the way to go.
Native plants require minimal upkeep on your part. After all, these plant species have thrived in your locale for thousands of years, and therefore have adapted perfectly to the soil, weather conditions, and environmental balance of your particular area. Native plants also attract more beneficial insects that protect and pollinate your garden, a big win on the sustainable gardening front.
We’re delighted daily by the charming trees, flowers, and shrubs that call Tennessee their home-sweet-homeland.
Take a look below at 5 plants native to Tennessee and the surrounding region.
5 PLANTS NATIVE TO TENNESSEE:
The common yarrow is native to not only Tennessee, but most areas of North America. These care-free and colorful blooms provide nectar and pollen to a range of beneficial insects, like big-eyed bugs, brown and green lacewings, damsel bugs, hoverflies, minute pirate bugs, predatory wasps, and more.
Because it’s pest and drought-resistant, it is well-suited for gardeners who are still refining their green thumb skills. Keep an eye on this one, though, as its hardiness can also give way to taking over your entire garden—you’ll want to keep yarrow in check.
Yarrow is great for attracting beneficial insects to your fall garden. It blooms into mid-fall before the first frost hits. You can encourage later blooms through the process of deadheading.
Found in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S., this shrub’s crimson blooms add pops of color to your garden. While beautiful when blooming, the scarlet buckeye does drop its leaves come summer’s end, so for landscaping purposes, consider planting it in a place that showcases its springtime blooms, but is less conspicuous come late summer after its leaves drop.
Tennessee Purple Coneflower
While the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is native all across the eastern United States, Tennessee has its own unique home-grown coneflower: the Tennessee purple coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis). It is found naturally nowhere else on earth except in Middle Tennessee.
In fact, the Tennessee purple coneflower almost didn’t make it. This particular coneflower species spent 32 years on the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species list. Thanks to conservation efforts, it was removed from the endangered list in 2011.
The Tennessee purple coneflower is a full sun-loving flower that blooms June through September, attracting predatory wasps and parasitoid flies. They are drought-tolerant and practically pest-free, making it a great addition to your garden.
The tulip poplar, a member of the magnolia family, is not only Tennessee’s state tree (and the state tree of Kentucky and Indiana, too), but it’s also the tallest hardwood tree in North America. In fact, it’s able to grow up to 150 feet high. An overachieving tulip poplar in Kentucky measures at 168 feet tall. To put that height in perspective, your average 10-story building is around 100 feet tall. The tulip poplar can also grow to the wise old age of 200+ years.
In May and June, it blooms colorful orange and green tulip-shaped flowers, which attract pollinators. Come fall, this tree offers a treat of striking gold and yellow leaves.
The swamp holly is a shrub and ornamental plant native to Tennessee and surrounding states that adds pretty pops of red to the otherwise dull browns and greys of the winter landscape. These tiny red berries are favorite foods of possums, raccoons, deer, songbirds, gamebirds, and other mammal wildlife.
MORE NATIVE PLANT RESOURCES:
Tennessee Native Plant Society
This society seeks to educate and conserve the variety of plants that call Tennessee home.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
This center provides a list of native plants sorted by each state in the U.S., which it dubs “the most comprehensive database of native plants for North America.”
Find plants native to Tennessee at Tennessee Naturescapes.
Located just outside of Knoxville, TN, this nursery found its roots after its owner noticed that she couldn’t find plants native to Tennessee at her local nurseries.
This nursery offers both in-person purchases and mail order purchases to states east of the Mississippi River.