Transition to a low-maintenance but high-impact garden by incorporating native plants.
Looking to make your yard more low maintenance but just as stunning as ever? Then incorporating native plants is the answer! While they’re generally known for their ability to adapt to an area and spread their seeds all on their own, some plants native to Iowa are suitable for small spaces.
Benefits of Growing Native Plants
Native plants are those that naturally occur in the area. They are perfectly suited for the area since they have adapted to the local conditions for centuries. Some pollinators have even evolved with native plants, which is why native plants are a go-to food source for them. Besides pollinators, native plants also provide food and shelter for other wildlife, so you’re doing your part to give back to nature!
Since native plants grow naturally in the region, they require very little input from you — once established, you won’t have to worry about watering or fertilizing them, plus they are resistant to most pests and diseases. Since native plants grow in your yard all year, they also add interest to your landscape in the winter.
Native Plants for Small Spaces
If you’re interested in trying natives small areas in your yard, here are some of the best native plants that call Iowa home. Also, while these occur naturally in the wild, don’t take them directly from nature. Rather, stop by a garden center. Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias) is an incredibly important plant for Monarch butterflies — Milkweed is the only food that Monarch caterpillars eat! Butterfly Milkweed grows up to two feet tall, while other species of Milkweed grow bigger. The bright orange flower clusters bloom from June to August and make perfect landing pads for butterflies. It does well in dry soil and is resistant to deer and rabbits. Plant several types to attract monarchs and other species.
Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) has light pink flowers that bloom through summer into fall. It’s tolerant of drought, heat, poor soils; you name it! Grow in full sun for the best blooms. For the most impact, grow massed with other taller native plants, like Prairie Dropseed. Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus) adds beautiful, soft texture to your landscape, without taking over your garden. This grass grows up to three feet tall and up to three feet wide, creating a fountain-like mound. In fall, the foliage turns bronze. Use it in borders, meadow-like beds, or as a filler between other perennials.
Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago) has golden-yellow flat-topped flower clusters that brighten up any space and bloom from late summer to fall. Preferring full sun, it can grow up to four feet tall and spreads about two feet, which means it doesn’t cover as much area as other native plants, making it great for smaller spaces. In fall, the foliage turns shades of red and orange. While sometimes blamed for hay fever, Stiff Goldenrod isn’t the plant at fault — most likely, the reason for your sneezin’ is ragweed.
Little Blue Stem (Schizachyrium) Another ornamental grass, this native adds vertical height and texture. The tall bluish colored blades also add some graceful movement to gardens. The best part of this grass is the brilliant fall colors that show through as the weather cools. Just because you have a small space to work with doesn’t mean you have to shy away from incorporating native plants! If you have any questions about getting started on your low-maintenance but high-impact native landscape, let us know!