Spring is officially here and it is time to start planting your home garden. In order to have a beautiful, healthy and flourishing garden, it’s important to get started early in the spring season.
When considering what to plant, gardeners should stick to plants that will thrive in our climate. Of course, there are also other considerations. Is your garden area sunny or shady? What is your soil make up, is it mostly sand or clay, etc? How is the irrigation and drainage in that area? Will the plant behave and thrive with other plantings in the garden or could it become invasive?
We recommend, instead of starting the search with plants you like, to find out which plants are best-suited for your garden area and then select your favorites from there. A bonus to selecting native plants is that not only should it provide you with a lower-maintenance garden, native plants will provide food and pollen for native birds and insects.
Listed alphabetically below are options which are perfectly suited for Long Island gardens. While the list certainly does not contain every native plant, it offers a decent selection to choose from. It is recommended to get these plants and flowers in the ground in the next few weeks.
This flower blooms all summer long in a bright, sunny location in soft shades of purple, pink and white.
These beauties provide lush, beautiful blooms in hanging baskets, mixed containers and large landscape plantings. Great in sun or shade. They do not attract insects and do not require a lot of water. They’re available in different colors: pink, red and white.
Despite its garish name, bloodroots are actually quite innocent in appearance. They resemble daisies except they are white with little dots of yellow. They grow in March and their bloom lasts until the end of the spring. They grow in shaded areas and since springtime is not always sunny, they are perfect flowers for planting. Bloodrots prefer moist soil and can grow up to six inches tall.
Butterfly weeds come out a little later in season, they don’t bloom until June. They are worth the wait as they offer bright colored flowers, and true to their name, they do attract butterflies. Butterfly weed requires full sun and does not like to be disturbed as they have very deep roots.
This tender perennial tropical foliage plant is great in shade but even does well with more sun. There is wide diversity of colors available, and different shapes and patterns of leaves. Coleus mixes in well with other plants, so they are good to use to fill in between plants in containers and in garden beds.
This new spin on the azalea is called the encore series and it blooms three times a year. It has nice, large flowers. The first bloom is the heaviest. The second one is not as floriferous, but it’s still a nice show. And the third bloom is in late fall. It’s available in different pinks, lavender, magenta and white. And it is comfortable in sun to shade.
Flowering native dogwood
This plant is a great early spring flower and typically blooms before May. Corniflorida blooms before the leaves emerge so you get the full power of the blossoms. They definitely like the moist, well-drained soil and can handle some shade.
Grand Maitre Crocus
The beautiful, delicate purple flowers of the crocus heralds the end of winter and beginning of spring. Of course, there are other colors you can select from as well; including, pink, yellow, and white. In order to grow to a full six inches, the crocus requires full sunlight and well-drained soil.
Hellebore’s are resilient, elegant and can even survive the frost in the winter. On average, they are expected to grow up to 12 inches tall. They can take dry shade. Its foliage is clean and green and strong. They also make beautiful cut flowers and are deer-resistant. Some gardeners recommend growing Hellebores with ferns, such as the maidenhair fern listed below.
Whether you wish to grow a shrub or a tree, your lilacs will grow provided they are given plenty of sunlight and drained soil. Keep in mind, blossoms prefer to bloom on old wood, so do not to prune the tree or shrub until after the blossoms have died off. With its sweet smell and beautiful color, lilacs are the perfect cure after a dark and dreary winter.
This native fern is also deer-resistant. It has an ethereal, airy quality with delicate green ferns on black stems. It’s a great companion for anything in the shade garden. It’ll take anything but sunlight and likes moist, well-drained soil.
Since pansies prefer the cool weather, they can be planted soon after the snow has cleared. Pansies grow best under the sun or in partly shaded area, and prefer their soil to be moist and well-drained. These flowers can grow up to be 10 inches tall and provide a nice splash of color.
Prickly pear cactus
The Prickly Pear cactus is our only native cactus. It produces a beautiful red, small fruit which can be uses to make jams and jellies. It grows on the dunes in really hot, sandy, dry sites, and doesn’t like to be cared for, so a lot of people like to put it near end of the driveway or by the mailbox- where other things won’t grow or you don’t want people to walk.
Puschkinia comes in different colors and once its petals open, reveals a beautiful striped color pattern. They grow best in sunlight and partly-shady areas and can grow up to eight inches tall and six inches wide.
Summersweet Clethra alnifolia
This native shrub does well in most situations. It can survive in straight sun or shade, in wet soil or dry soil. It’s sweetly fragrant flowers bloom in August in either pink or white. They provide multiple seasons of interest, changing from flowers and green foliage in summer to yellow foliage in fall. They are extremely adaptable and work well with perennials, shrubs and trees.
Tulips are one of the best known spring flowers. They come in many beautiful colors and varying sizes. Tulips do best with plenty of sunlight. These flowers are perfect to add color to a small garden area.
Yellow trilliums have rich thick green leaves that are spotted with silver and are topped with bright yellow blooms.Yellow trilliums will in bloom in April, but tend to die out by June. They prefer well-drained, moist soil and mostly shady conditions.