Using Native Plant Materials for Landscaping

This fall I made a trip to the Botanical Gardens at Asheville for my landscape architecture licensing continuing education. This botanical gardens sole focus is to study and promote native plants and habitats of the Southern Appalachians. The nature walks there is home to over 600 native plant species that offer great insight into their cultivation and habitat. I spent several hours there walking the trails and observing the native plant species. My goal is to encourage other landscape architects and designers to integrate more of these native plant materials into their designs. These plants are naturally acclimated to our climate, are more disease resistant and drought tolerant than other non-native species.

The benefits of using native plants are:

  • Native plants are hardier and can withstand our climate extremes (when planted and sited correctly.)

  • Promotes the conservation of our natural resources.

  • Provides food and shelter for native wildlife.

  • To educate and help prevent invasive plant introductions.

Here are some native plant recommendations (believe me, this is not an exhaustive list!)

Small Trees- Up to 25' in height

  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

  • Paw Paw (Asimina triloba)

  • American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)

  • Eastern Redbud (Cercis cancadensis)

  • Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Large Trees- Over 25' in height

  • Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

  • Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum)

  • Yellow Birch (Betula allegheniensis)

  • River Birch (Betula nigra)

  • Yellowood (Cladrastis kentukea)

Low Shrubs- Under 4' in height

  • Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

  • Shrubby St. John's Wort (Hypernicum prolificum)

  • Drooping Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontainesiana)

  • Carolina Rose (Rosa paslustris)

  • Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Medium Shrubs- 4' to 6' in height

  • Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

  • Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

  • Cinnamonbark (Clethra acuminata)

  • Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

  • Large Fothergilla (Fothergilla major)

Large Shrubs-Over 10' in height

  • Mountain Winterberry (Ilex montana)

  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus inodorus)

  • Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)

  • Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)

  • Silky Willow (Salix sericea)

  • Arrowood (Viburnum dentatum)


  • Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

  • Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans)

  • Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

  • Climbing Hydrangea (Decumania barbara)

  • Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)


  • Lady Fern (Athryrium felix-femina)

  • Marginal Wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis)

  • Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

  • Broomsedge (Andropogon viginicus)

  • Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

  • Little Bluestem (Schozachyrium scoparium)

  • New England Aster (Aster novae angliae)

  • Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)

  • Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

  • Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)

  • Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

  • Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hitta)

You can see the list of native plant bloom times by checking out this link:

You also can obtain more information on gardening with native plants by using the link below:

About the Author:

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 29 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites:





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