Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - March 12, 2009

From: New Buffalo, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Native plants for backyard in Michigan
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

I am an inexperienced gardener but would love to know the best plants/bushes to plant in my backyard. I would love floral and fragrant. I am in Southwest Michigan, near New Buffalo and since this is my second home I am usually only here 2 to 3 days a week. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

Welcome to gardening! The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center seeks to foster the use of native plants. We encourage using species that are native to your area. They are well-adapted to their local growing conditions, require less fertilizer and maintenance. A good way to start is by reading our How-To Article Native Plant Gardening.

Without knowing a little bit more about your site, our ability to suggest specific plants is limited. You can use our Native Plant Database to pinpoint species that should thrive for you. Select Michigan, the plant habit and duration, and specify the the sunlight and soil moisture levels that match your site. The tentative suggestions below are based on three searches of Michigan natives, one of shrubs, one of herbs (herbaceous, or non-woody plants), and the other of vines, and using part-sun and moist soil requirements. Since you are sited so close to the Indiana state line, you might also search the database using Indiana. I did, in fact, check the choices I made in another database - USDA Plants - which is accessible via a link in the Native Plants species pages. By clicking your state on the distribution map, you can see in which counties the plant is reported. You may wish to consult local growers and nurseries who specialize in native plants and seeds and will have detailed knowledge about the growing requirements and conditions in your area and their familiarity with local species is very useful. We list local providers on our Explore Plants page under Suppliers

Below are my suggestions. Most have flowers. Some are fragrant. Colorful fall foliage or fruits characterize a number of them. I have also given you a link to a previous question sent to us from a fellow New Buffalo resident which includes recommended plants for a dune ecosystem. 

Shrubs

Diervilla lonicera (northern bush honeysuckle)

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Hibiscus moscheutos (crimsoneyed rosemallow)

Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)

Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)

Viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum)

Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Johnswort)

Perennials

Campanulastrum americanum (American bellflower)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine)

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed)

Campanula rotundifolia (bluebell bellflower)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Vines

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)

Vitis riparia (riverbank grape) - pictures

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
August 26, 2009 - We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would gr...
view the full question and answer

Texas Sage in Indiana
September 14, 2005 - I was living in Texas and now I have moved to Indiana. I would love to have some Texas Sage here. is it possible?
view the full question and answer

Perennial summer blooming plant for Livonia, MI
May 22, 2009 - I want to find a plant that I can cut back in the fall, will come back in the spring, flower throughout the summer, be a medium size plant, no taller than 48", about 36" in diameter. It would get f...
view the full question and answer

Are Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurels native to the Texas/Mexico Border?
July 05, 2012 - I'm trying to determine whether Rhododendrons, azaleas and mountain laurel grow around the Texas/Mexican border. Are they native to this region?
view the full question and answer

Shade loving plants with color for Irving, Texas
July 01, 2010 - Looking for shade loving perennials or annuals with color - native and low water. Live in Irving, Texas.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.