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Sunday - May 18, 2008

From: Fitchburg, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native plants for gravesite in North Central Massachusetts
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in North Central Mass. Would like to plant something on my parents gravesite that would not be invasive or require a lot of care. Any suggestions? I just took 2 shrubs out that had become way overgrown so don't really want any more shrubs.


We're assuming you did not want to plant trees there, and we don't know what the conditions are: wet, dry, sun, shade, etc. so you will need to click on the Latin name of each plant we suggest to see what conditions that plant can tolerate.

First, we're going to look for some herbaceous perennial plants that might work for you. You can look at the whole list by clicking on Recommended Species in the drop-down menu under "Explore Plants" and click on the state in the US map. Click on "Narrow Your Search", then Massachusetts and ask for herbs as the habit and perennial for duration. You can also designate amount of sun exposure and soil moisture, which we couldn't do. From this list, we selected eight, including a couple of ferns in case it's shady, that we thought would work for you.

Now, if you want something that will hold its place and have some appearance year-round, especially in Massachusetts, you might reconsider shrubs. Again, we'll go to Recommended Species and repeat the search criteria, this time asking for shrubs. We went through that list and chose five that are low growing and slow growing, and so shouldn't get out of bounds. Of course, we're recommending native plants because we already know they can grow there, and therefore, won't need as much care as imported exotics.

Finally, go to Suppliers in the same drop-down menu, type in the name and state you live in on the Location Search line, and you will get a list of native plant suppliers in your area.


Anaphalis margaritacea (western pearly everlasting) - 1-3 ft. tall, blooms June to October

Desmodium canadense (showy ticktrefoil) - 2-6 ft. tall, blooms June - September

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) - trailing evergreen, up to 2 ft. tall, blooms June to August

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) - 1 to 3 ft., blooms May to September

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern) - evergreen, up to 6 ft.

Phlox subulata (moss phlox) - evergreen, forms mat, blooms March to June

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) - evergreen, 1 t 2 ft. tall

Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) - evergreen, 2 to 8 ft. tall. Pictures of Ostrich fern


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) - evergreen, low and spreading 1 to 3 ftl tall

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil) deciduous, 3 to 4 ft.

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) - evergreen, 1 to 3 ft.

Rosa acicularis (prickly rose) - up to 4 ft. tall, deciduous

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry) - deciduous, 1 to 3 ft. tall

Anaphalis margaritacea

Desmodium canadense

Mitchella repens

Monarda fistulosa

Osmunda cinnamomea

Phlox subulata

Polystichum acrostichoides

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Gaultheria procumbens

Rosa acicularis

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus




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