Native Plants Blooming Schedule

Native Plants Blooming Schedule

We are grateful to Edamarie Mattei, founder of Backyard Bounty who is forever generous with her time and for providing us with this helpful information.

First Week in April

Amelanchier Arborea, Common Serviceberry

 

In bloom in the DC area this week, this native shrub//tree has flowers for pollinators and juicy berries for birds and humans. (The berries taste a lot like blueberries). 

 

There are lots of good reasons to plant a Serviceberry in your garden- It tolerates clay soil and air pollution,  has great ornamental value- pretty flowers and beautiful fall color, produces berries and is also a good food source for birds. 

 

One caution, this plant can get Cedar apple rust if you plant it close to Junipers which are alternate hosts for the disease.  Rust doesn’t usually kill a Serviceberry, but it tends to appear once the berries are set and make them inedible.  Learn more about the plant here.  

Second Week in April

Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells

In bloom in the DC area this week, this native ephemeral blooms in early spring and disappears by the end of June.  Native spring ephemerals are an important source of nectar for pollinators.  Sadly, they are being consumed by Lesser Celandine an invasive plant that many of our native pollinating insects can't feed on.  Lesser celandine overwhelms Bluebells.  

 

Want to learn more? Here's an article about the value of native spring ephemerals.  Here's a link to info about Lesser Celandine, an invasive that is overwhelming spring ephemerals everywhere in our region.

Third Week in April

Aronia arbutifolia, Chokeberry &

Aronia melanocarpa, Black Chokeberry

 

In bloom in the DC area this week, this native shrub has fabulous red fall color (plant this instead of the highly invasive Burning Bush, Euonymous alatus), white flowers in spring and berries that are edible to birds and people. Aronia berries are great for you.  They contain more antioxidants than any other fruit. However, because they are sour, you may want to add some sweetener to the fruit. 

 

Below is a recipe for a simple syrup from Aronia berries that you can stir into yogurt, seltzer or a cocktail.  Plant this shrub now for berries in the fall.  Young fruit shrubs are less productive than mature ones, so expect to wait a couple of years before your berries take off.

Aronia Berry Simple Syrup Recipe
 

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine:

  • 1 part fresh Aronia berries

  • 1 part sugar

  • 2 parts of water

 

Bring everything to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer until the berries burst. Keep simmering until the syrup is reduced by about half. Strain the syrup and allow to cool completely. 

Fourth Week in April

Phlox divericata, Woodland Phloxes &

Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phloxes

 

In bloom in the DC area this week, Woodland and Creeping Phlox are shade-tolerant plants with a lovely fragrance.  They mix beautifully with native ephemerals like May Apple, and other perennials and sedges. 

 

These Phloxes are an important early nectar source for a variety of pollinators including swallowtail butterflies, gray hairstreak butterflies, and western pygmy butterflies, hummingbird and clearwing moths, and hummingbirds. 

 

Plant these phloxes with ferns and sedges in your garden now, and then go out and see them in the wild while you can!

Last Week in April / First Week of May

Amsonia Tabermontana &

Amsonia Hubrechtii, Bluestar Flower

 

If there is such a thing as a foolproof plant, Amsonia may be it.  Amsonias tolerate drought, flooding, clay soil, sandy soil, and even part sun.  Their sap is slightly toxic to pests, so deer, rabbits, and insect pests leave it alone.

 

On top of adaptability and durability, these plants are stunning ornamental features in a garden - especially in the fall when the gold-colored foliage pops.  The blue flowers at the tip of the plan come early in spring and produce nectar for butterflies.  During the summer, the fern-like texture of the leaves contrasts nicely with plants that surround it.

You'll see Amsonia at the Lee Dennison Garden just before the stepping stone path begins.

Second Week of May

Silene Caroliniana, Wild Pinks

 

Have a dry, gravely spot on a sunny path that weeds want to take over?  Remove the weeds and plant wild pinks. Wild Pinks start to bloom as the Woodland Phlox begins to fade.

Its nectar feeds native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and nocturnal moths.  It has an alternate common name, "Stichy Catchfly" because it has sticky hairs on its calyx, which deter ants from climbing up this native ground cover and eating its nectar.

You'll find Silene along the stepping stone path in the Lee Dennison Garden.

Third Week of May

Sisryinchium Angustifolium, Blue-eyed Grass

 

Blue-eyed grass is not a grass, but a member of the Iris family. It grows in the wild at woodland edges, in sandy thickets along river banks, in moist meadows and along roadsides. It tolerates salt, part shade, and soils that are sandy, loam or clay.

 

Once established, it even can take some drought.  

Sisyrinchium starts blooming in May in our region and will bloom for a good two months.  Note that the flowers open in the day and often remain closed on rainy days.  

While this plant is highly adaptable, it does need good drainage to thrive.  It easily spreads by seed and can be divided every 2-3 years so it stays vigorous.

 

At the Lee Dennison Garden, Blue-eyed grass is planting at the edge of the pollinator meadow.

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