Here in midsummer, we find ourselves at the height of activity for pollinating birds and insects. While there is a plethora of plants that will attract them to your yard, the cry to use more native plants is beginning to make sense to more and more of us. Native plants are those found to grow naturally in our area, attract more varieties of wildlife, and are more adaptable to the soil and climate of where we live. And most are deer resistant! Here are five native shrubs to get you started:
You may already be familiar with serviceberry trees but not so familiar with their native, low-growing cousin. Running Serviceberry (Amelanchier stolonifera) grows 4-5’ tall and forms a 4-5’ wide colony. Showy, white flowers turn to showy, edible fruits that birds love (also good for pies). On a full sun to part shade location, use this native shrub for a slope, as a low hedge, in a woodland planting or to naturalize an area.
If you love butterfly bushes but have had trouble with them surviving our winters, then Meadowsweet (Spirea alba) is a great substitute. Butterflies love the long panicles of white flowers, songbirds feast on the seed heads, and it’s 3-4’ height makes it perfect for any garden. Plant Meadowsweet in a sunny location.
Witherod Viburnum (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides) The best feature of this large-size shrub (8’+) is the pink fruits which eventually turn blue-black. White flowers appear in late June when pollinators are at their busiest. Doing its best in full sun to part shade, Witherod can be used in a border, as a screen, or any difficult spot. It attracts birds and pollinators.
Downy Viburnum (Viburnum rafinesquianum) is a native shrub for the shade, especially dry shade. White spring flowers, that are a favorite among pollinators, turn to purple fruits in summer that attract songbirds and other wildlife. Growing 6-10’ tall, this native is at home in a woodland garden.
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) This interesting shrub (shown in the first photo of this post) has a lot going for it. It is quite happy in wet soils, along streams and ponds, but does well without excessive moisture. It’s white, fragrant, sci-fi flowers are a source of nectar for butterflies. The native species can grow up to 12’ so you may want to opt for ‘Fiber Optics’, a sunny, compact version that grows 5-6’ tall. Use it for naturalizing, to attract wildlife, and in rain gardens.
Horticulturist and General Manager of Burlington Garden Center
where you can find these and more native plants.