100 Easy To Grow Native Plants


Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young


Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows that I am very partial to native plants.  I have added many as I replace exotic non-performers and invasives.  There were many reasons for this conversion.  Bringing in more critters was first.  So I planted berry producing shrubs and perennials that produced seed for birds.  Then I added host and nectar plants for butterflies always keeping the pollinators in mind.

But one of the best reasons to plant natives is to reduce the maintenance of the garden while increase the health of its habitat.  Of course, some natives I planted did not do well as I planted them in the wrong conditions.  And some were overachievers taking over areas of the garden increasing the maintenance of my garden.

So I needed a resource that would help me find the best low-maintenance natives to plant in my region of the country.  When I found this book, it seemed like a dream come true.  Everything I needed to know in one handy little book.  So I am reviewing it for you in hopes that you may find it useful too.  I am joining in with Holley’s Garden Book Review which usually happens on the 20th.


100 Easy-To-Grow Native Plants: For American Gardens in Temperate Zones



Author:  Lorraine Johnson
Paperback:   160 pages
Publisher:   Firefly Books; Revised Ed. (February 6, 2009)
Amazon Price: $9.18






In A Few Words

This comprehensive little book actually profiles 101 different native plants.  These are divided into 3 ranges:  northeast, prairies and northwest.  There are many definitions of a “native plant”.  For purposes of this book, the author defines natives as those plants that grew here before the Europeans settled the US.

And the idea of “easy-to-grow” plants was determined by the author as those that require little watering, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, black eyed susanchemicals, money etc.  Johnson participated in a survey to determine how low maintenance her native plant garden really was.  After keeping track all season she determined she spent little money and time to keep her garden going.

There is a section in the beginning of the book that shows the reader how to use the information in the plant profiles.  You will learn both the common and botanical name; height, bloom period; soil, sun, shade, moisture requirements; plant’s native habitat and range; a description; how to propagate, companion plants and any related species. There are also 12 colorful plant charts showing regional plants, plants for specific growing conditions and those that attract butterflies.




What I Liked

I especially liked the idea of growing natives especially with the extreme weather we have been having.  My natives have fared well, and I like the idea of adding more that are low-maintenance.   While each plant is profiled with basic information, the details of maintenance, propagation and companions was even more useful to my future garden plans.  This info will help me determine which plants for my area to grow and how to start them from seed to save some money.  Many times you cannot find these gems as plants but you can get the seed.  And if I want some related species to add to my garden, these are listed too.

Each plant is represented with a great colorful picture, and there are several garden pictures depicting native plant combinations.  Many of these gave me great ideas.  Additionally there are photos of the plants in the useful charts at the end of the book.  It is hard to find plants that will grow well in dry shade or deep shade.  How about those areas that flood or where you may have had drought issues.  And I am looking at those native plants that I can add to my meadow so it will be filled with flowers and not invasive weeds.  These charts give you the names of the plants for those hard to plant areas so you can look them up in the book and find out more information.

One of the most useful sections in the book is a detailed explanation of how to propagate native flowers and ferns.  I can’t wait to begin experimenting next year.  I discovered a great way to do this outside so you can grow them from seed and then place the plants in the garden.  But this will wait until I have redesigned some areas next year.  I’ll share all soon.




Not So Much

There isn’t much not to like about this book.  One interesting section is at the end of the book.  It is the Ethical Gardener’s Guidelines.  While I agree with the premise of these guidelines (ex: don’t disrupt native plant communities, use natural means for fertilizing and weeding) there are a few that folks may not like or be able to adhere to (use plants and seeds that have originated from your bioregion).  I know how hard it is to find native plants and seeds around here so I do have to go elsewhere for these plants or seeds.  But I do try to stay local when I can.

But the ideas in these guidelines are important, and I was glad that the author included this section in her book about native plants.




Final Thoughts

Before I read the book, I wondered why the author chose only 100 plants as there are so many she could have chosen.  But as Johnson said:

I was guided , however, by the principle that, along with being easy to grow, all should be relatively easy to find in the nursery trade and most should be ones I’d actually grown.


I appreciate the idea that these plants should be easier to find because then it will make the plants easier to place in my garden.  So many people are looking for low maintenance and easy to grow plants now due to climate change and economics.  So I encourage you to check out this book to find some wonderful plants to grow in your garden that will encourage wildlife to visit, and at the same time be native to your area, not to mention look good too.


***All pictures are of native plants in my garden.  The names can be found when you place your cursor on the picture.

“Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.”
~R. Search

Seasonal Celebrations is coming December 1st.  I hope you will join in as we celebrate the changing of the season.  The Winter Solstice will be upon us here in the North and the Summer Solstice in the South.  Details below!


Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether winter or summer or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words starting December 1st.  I will post a bit early though around November 29th or 30th.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of fall here in the North and spring in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (the 20th of December).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create).  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!



Next up on the blog:  Monday is time for another Wildflower Tale. 

I wrote a guest post over at Vision and Verb.  I hope you will visit this wonderful website of women writers.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my next post on the 12th.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

sharetheloveI am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


73 Replies to “100 Easy To Grow Native Plants”

  1. The book is a great resource; the more I garden in a climate that is not easy the more I want to plant natives. A problem for UK gardeners is that everything grows pretty well making it hard to understand what are the ‘correct’ plants to grow. The US seems to have many books, some university or government issue that really deal well with this important issue.

    1. It is hard to know Christina. I think in the US we can identify a way to define the natives although it is still not universally accepted. And I think in every country it is important to identify problem plants and try to avoid them opting for plants that have been around a long time and can benefit the habitat.

  2. I love and use this book all the time. It along with William Cullina’s A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Flowers of North America and Harry Phillips, Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers have guided me through the process of learning to raise wildflowers from seed. Lots of fun and very rewarding!

    1. Beth I have Culina’s book as well and will look for Phillip’s book. Thanks for sharing that resource. It is fun and rewarding….I am looking forward to more fun this spring 🙂

  3. Our Audubon society near by sells this book and many of the plants to go with it and I plan to find your recommendation and do some more reading on the subject. I’m struggling with one thing though:loss of sun as trees on my property and neighbors’ grow up and block a lot of precious sunlight. This is going to involve re-thinking a lot of what I grow. It is so incredibly beautiful in the northwest, but man, you’ve got to love evergreens evergreens, everywhere! Berries too! This isn’t a bad thing, but i sure do miss some of sun-intensives.

    1. My last garden was all shade but one small square….but you can grow shade loving natives….of course you can take down some trees. With the loss of some of my trees, it has rejuvenated parts of the garden…but I hated losing my trees…good luck Susie and let me know if I can help!

      1. Unfortunately, it is the neighbor’s trees causing the problem! Huge cypress, pine, and big leaf maples. Gorgeous, but….shady! I do have a pretty good plot for veggies, but I’m even having to make some adjustments there. I may take you up on your offer sometime. I have a good selection of shade loving natives in the front yard. (north facing.)

        1. Oh I had that problem too…about 10-15 100 foot black walnuts sucked the life out of my garden before I knew about natives. You know anytime you need help I am here 🙂

  4. A challenge I find here too – the difference between ‘native’ ‘invasive’ and ‘weed’. Sometimes the fact that a plant originates in another climate helps contain it. That a plant feels at home sometimes means it feels comfortable enough to go on a rampage.

  5. Native plants are so fun! Oftentimes they are the ‘different’ plants that folks like in their gardens–something no one else has. I find that kind of funny but have no problem using them in my designs and my own garden.

    1. I think that is how I started planting them as they were not the usual plants you would find in the garden. Now they are right at home and I am having so much fun with my natives too!

  6. Since we moved into our house 18 mos. ago, I have learned gardening by trial and error. Should have bought a book! The previous owner has several large planting beds and most things she planted seem to thrive well, but also take over the bed–like Mexican heather, for instance. I hated the way they seemed to consume the garden so I pulled them up and planted gerbera daisies and hibiscus and gardenias. Although I love this set up, I have to do much more weeding and adding of mulch. So maybe the previous lady already had it figured out. I am going to take out the knock-out roses she put in. Those things have so many thorns and the blooms aren’t even pretty. Sorry for the ramble…had too much coffee, apparently. :/

    1. I loved the ramble Gail. It’s fun to hear how others are continuing to think about changes in their gardens…I still have so much more to do as I contemplate more natives…sometimes it is a lot of trial and error.

  7. I also think planting native plants is the key to success, as they thrive in their natural environment and support the native wildlife. Lovely photos, and I love that last quote Donna!

    1. I agree Cathy…natives are so important. That quote made me think how we can and should nurture a love of nature in our children.

  8. Excellent write-up on the book. I enjoy nature so much I will have to see if I can find this to read and gander at all her works/words. Thank you.

    Also, may I say I love your template for your blog…it’s so fitting for your subjects. Wonderful work.

  9. Great account of the book Donna! It sounds good and seems that it would be a great resource for me since I am just now getting more into native plants. I wonder if the effects of climate change have quite an effect on some of the native flowers. In other words, I’m wondering if growth habits, locations, etc… still hold completely hold true for the plants highlighted..???

    1. Andrea, I have found they do hold true and that as they grow with the climate change, they adapt or so that is my thought watching my natives….even with extremes they do fine.

  10. On my wishlist just in time for Christmas! I am going to need more room to grow a hundred plants – better start killing more lawn. Always enjoy your posts Donna. I look forward to seeing natives in your garden come Spring!

  11. Sounds like a really useful book, am not aware of there being an equivalent for the UK, though I suspect it would be harder to define “native” here too, plus many so-called exotics (including plenty of US natives) work really well in our gardens and are wonderful for wildlife.

    1. Janet, you do have a unique climate for gardens and it is nice that so many plants work well and behave for you. I bet it would be harder to have a native plant book for the UK.

  12. I admire what you have done with your garden. It seems to be “in” these days to criticize the movement towards growing natives, like the nonnative movement needs our help!!! Growing native plants to support the critters is the most important thing, but we are one of the critters being supported because without our habitat in tact we cannot survive.

    1. So very true Carolyn…planting natives ultimately helps us survive…we desperately need the critters especially the bees.

  13. Sounds like a fabulous book! I have found that natives thrive in some areas of my garden that have the worst soil, and because of that, they have convinced me that they are superior as far as needing less time and maintenance. But they can also be harder to find. Sounds like this book has taken both of those aspects into account. And growing natives from seed sounds like a fabulous idea, too! Thanks so much for joining in with another wonderful book, and for your consistent participation.

    1. Glad you liked the review Holley. I bet you might find some nurseries or can use some online ones to add those natives. They are so welcome in my garden because they are almost maintenance free.

  14. Thanks for the thorough review Donna. We have this book in our ‘library’ at our local Wild Ones chapter. I’m going to check it out next meeting. I’m also interested in more propagation techniques. Heather

  15. Sounds like a book I need to get! Thanks for the idea. I know–that guideline about getting local seeds and plants is tough. They mentioned that point at the Native Gardening Conference I went to this summer. It’s not too tough for me, with Prairie Nursery and Agrecol so close. And then Prairie Moon isn’t too far away, either. But sometimes it makes sense to go a little farther to get a native plant. Great post, and I’ll consider this book. Thanks.

    1. You are so very lucky Beth to be so close to all those native nurseries. I am trying to find and use more NY native nurseries this year.

  16. I actually got this book from the library a few weeks ago. It is such a good resource! I love how next to each plant it also gives some companion plants that grow well under the same conditions. I only wish it was bigger – I would have liked 200 Easy to Grow Native Plants!

  17. I picked this very book up the other day at a second hand shop, but haven’t had a moment to start reading it. The topic of native plants is of great interest to me and after reading your review I am really looking forward to reading it.

  18. Donna, I admire you for going “native”! The book sounds very interesting and what a logical approach to gardening!
    Although I do not grow many plants native to my area, I have begun incorporating plants that are friendly to pollinators. Thank you for a great book review.

    1. Once I grew more natives Dorothy I saw a huge increase in pollinators…now they are so numerous we can hardly believe it. Fun watching them pollinate my veg garden!

  19. It is nice to have a book to guide you as to what natives you should/could use in your garden. I just got a book on native plants by Allen Armitage. He is the Arbor Day speaker this year the first Friday in December. Just started reading the book. … no assessment yet.

    1. Would love to know how you like Armitage’s book Janet. I can never get enough native plant books…How lucky to have Allen as a speaker.

  20. I love the light on that pink cone flower, so pretty. It’s nice that you like to grow native plants, Donna. I still have so much to learn about gardening. I can’t believe seasonal celebrations is almost here. I have to come up with something soon to share! 🙂

  21. This book does sound like an excellent resource. I’ve found that “Easy to grow” and “native plant” work together well in my garden. The survey results were especially interesting in that the author concluded native plants actually were less maintenance over time.

    We are fortunate to have some great nurseries specializing in local natives in south Texas. It’s still fun to add a few (non-invasive) plants from elsewhere that work in my climate.

    1. I agree, Shirley. I do like to add a few non-natives but for easy maintenance and great plants you can’t beat natives…

  22. Thanks for reviewing this book. I had already decided native was the was to go for the large but unattractive areas leading up to the house. I’m buying the book now, I can’t wait until Christmas.

  23. I would like to get this book. I am very interested in putting more native plants in our garden next growing season. Thank you for sharing it and as always this is a wonderful post.

    1. That is possible Donna and why I warn folks that you better have room if you want to plant certain ones as they were meant to grow in drifts and look great that way.

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