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Three Tested, Tried and True Top Native Perennials

Maryland Native Plants & Virginia Native Plants - Three Tried and True Top Natives

These three native perennials are iron clad.  They practically have a money back guarantee! But of course they don’t because they are plants. Each has a long season of interest, is widely available and is easy to grow.

Number one is Zizia.

Maryland Native Plants & Virginia Native Plants - Zizia

Zizia (Zizia aurea), also called golden alexander, is a spring blooming 3 foot high perennial with yellow flowers that look just like dill you may have grown as an herb. You only need a few of these as they do a nice job of spreading, but not crazily.  They bloom in April, May and June. Flower heads will dry and remain for most of the summer. Their foliage stays lush and strong and turns partially to a burgundy color in late fall.  This plant does well in full sun and part shade. It prefers moister soil but will do well in average soils as well.  They crowd out weeds very nicely.

Number two is Baptisia.

Baptisia (Baptisia australis), sometimes called false indigo, emerges in April and by June, spikes of graceful blue flowers bloom for a couple of weeks. The flowers are beautiful but Baptisia’s true value is its 3 to 4 foot high silvery blue foliage that stays strong throughout our humid and hot summers. In the fall, the seed pods turn black and can be quite interesting. Baptisia needs full sun to bloom profusely but will also be ok in part shade. It easily tolerates clay soil and is drought tolerant once established.  There is only one rule with this plant – you can’t move it once you plant it. It grows a deep root system and, if you move it, you will be disappointed. Other than that, it is very easy to grow.  It is truly gorgeous. If you have tried growing lupine or delphinium for the color without success, this is the plant for you.

Number three is Heuchera “Autumn Bride.”

I mention this heuchera (Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’) often and for good reason.  It grows well in dry shade.  It blooms in August and is nearly evergreen. emerges early in spring filling your garden with robust yellow green leaves.  It grows easily and, once established, you can divide to create more plants. It grows 1 to 2 feet high and up to 3 feet wide. I have had no problem growing it in sun, shade, deep shade, moist soils, dryer soils and in among the root base of huge old trees. It is really a great plant for troubled spots.

These three perennials pop in nicely in any garden.  If you have a bed with bare spots in sun, fill-in with zizia and baptisia. If you have a shady spot that needs a spark, adding heuchera will light it up with graceful flowering wands of what flowers in August.  These are low maintenance reliable wonder plants! They should come with a money back guarantee.


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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