Maryland Native Plants

plants native to maryland

It’s hard to believe that the landscapes of Maryland are so diverse. From the rocky shores of Ocean City, where sea oats and marsh grasses grow in the salty air, to the Chesapeake Bay watershed where bald cypress and water lilies thrive in the brackish waters, to the woodlands of Silver Spring, with its towering tulip trees and carpets of ferns, you can find just about any kind of vegetation you might be looking for.

Maryland is a naturalist’s dream. It’s also a gardener’s paradise, thanks to the wide variety of native plant species that call the state home.

Keep reading to learn more about some of our favorite Maryland native plants and find out how you can use them in your landscape!

Groundcovers & Ferns

With their lush, green foliage and ability to thrive in shady areas, groundcovers and ferns are a great way to add color and texture to your landscape. They’re also perfect for filling in gaps between trees and shrubs or covering large land areas.

Some of our favorite groundcovers and ferns include:

native maryland plants christmas fern

Christmas Fern

Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) are hardy, evergreen ferns that can be found throughout Maryland. They thrive in shady areas, making them the perfect choice for under trees or in woodland gardens.

The Christmas fern got its name because it stays green right through the holiday season. It’s a robust, leathery fern with glossy, green fronds. Fertile fronds are taller. The once-divided fronds with pointed pinnae result in a coarse texture. The silvery fiddleheads emerge in early spring.

The Christmas fern is a plant that thrives in cool, moist, well-drained soil in the shade. It needs a cool, wet, well-drained ground. It may be an excellent evergreen boundary or accent plant in the correct location.

native maryland plants foamflower

Foamflower

Foamflowers (Tiarella cordifolia) is a type of wildflower found throughout Maryland. They have delicate, fragrant white flowers that bloom in the spring, and their leaves resemble foam or bubbles.

Foamflowers are hardy plants that can tolerate a variety of soil conditions. They grow best in moist, well-drained soil, but they can also take dryer conditions.

Foamflowers are an excellent choice for shady landscape areas, such as under trees or in home gardens. They can also be used as a groundcover or as an accent plant.

golden groundsel

Golden Groundsel

Golden groundsels (Packera aurea) are a type of wildflower found throughout Maryland. They have bright, yellow flowers that bloom in the summer, and their leaves are covered in a golden fuzz.

Packera, also known as Groundsel, is a native perennial that is fast-growing and produces a lot of blooms in the first months of summer. The ground cover’s lush rosettes of heart-shaped leaves with purple undersides are appealing all year round. The central stalk is mainly naked, giving plants a solid vertical line.

The plant grows in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Groundsel is an excellent selection for use as a ground cover or meadow perennial.

native maryland plants green and gold chrysogonum virginianum

Green and Gold

Green And Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) is a perennial that grows close to the ground. It has deep green leaves that are triangular in shape and are about 2 inches long. The flowers are bright yellow and star-shaped. They bloom from late spring to fall. The flowers are held in clusters and have five rounded and slightly notched petals. They are about 1/2 inch wide.

Green and Gold is a hardy plant that can tolerate various soil conditions. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil, but it can also tolerate dryer conditions.

Green and Gold is an excellent choice for shady landscape areas, such as under trees or in woodland gardens. They can also be used as a groundcover or as an accent plant.

native maryland plants lady fern Athyrium filix femina

Lady Fern

Lady ferns (Athyrium filix-femina) are hardy, evergreen ferns found throughout Maryland. They thrive in shady areas, making them the perfect choice for under trees or in woodland gardens.

Lady Fern is a fern with delicate, light green fronds that grow slowly. It can reach up to 5 feet tall when cultivated well; while growth is sluggish and generally compact, it may spread 3-7 feet if not controlled. Lady Fern prefers complete shade to dappled sunshine and rich, moist, well-drained soil. Due to its shallow root system, it is best to keep the fern away from walkways or other areas where foot traffic is likely.

native maryland plants plantain leaf pussy toes

Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)

Pussytoes are a member of the Aster family that may be found across much of the eastern half of the continental United States, from Minnesota south to Texas, east to Florida, and north to Maine. Other popular names include Woman’s Tobacco and Plantain-leaved Pussytoes.

Pussytoes are typically grown for their velvety leaves, rather than the white to pale pink flowers. The late spring flowers look like tiny cat’s feet, thus the name. These plants can reach up to about a foot in height, but the leaves grow at ground level. They are spread by rhizomes and provide a good ground cover for dry areas, such as rock gardens. Parts of the plant are poisonous, so deer, rabbits, and other small animals won’t touch them.

native maryland plants sensitive fern

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Sensitive Fern has large, lobed leaves that are light chartreuse in color. It thrives in shady, wet places and is native to clay soil. In other garden soils, it grows nicely as long as there is enough moisture and the soil isn’t allowed to dry out. Sensitive Fern grows quickly via rhizomes in ideal conditions and can reach 2-3 feet in height.

The plant gets its name because its leaves will curl up and turn brown when exposed to frost. The fern will often die back in the winter, only to return in the spring.

Sensitive Fern is a good choice for gardeners looking for a fern to grow in wet, shady areas. It is also a good choice for gardeners who have clay soil. The fern can be used as a ground cover or an accent plant.

native maryland plants canadian wild ginger

Wild Ginger

Wild ginger plants (Asarum and Hexastylis species) are 6 to 10 inches tall (15-25 cm.) with a spreading growth range of 12 to 24 inches (31-61 cm.). Wild ginger plants grow moderately slowly and are non-invasive, with evergreen, kidney-shaped, or heart-shaped leaves.

Ginger is a tough, adaptable plant that grows in diverse locations and seasons. Growing wild ginger as a shade ground cover or in large groupings is a fantastic option for a woodland garden and an excellent choice for a sunny border. The beautiful spring blooms of wild ginger plants (April through May) are located at the plant’s base on the undersides of the leaves and are often overlooked.

The plants have a ginger-like scent when the leaves are bruised. Local wildlife will appreciate the cover and food that wild ginger provides. Give this plant plenty of room to spread. Division of clumps is easy, or new plants can be grown from root cuttings taken in late winter.

Now, let’s take a look at some grasses, sedges, and rushes to the native to the Maryland area.

Maryland Grasses, Sedges & Rushes

There are many native kinds of grass, sedges, and rushes that can be found growing in Maryland. These plants offer a range of textures and colors, making them ideal for creating an organic look in any garden.

In addition to their aesthetic value, native grasses, sedges, and rushes also provide habitat to support local wildlife. So if you’re looking for an easy way to add some interest to your garden while also helping out the local fauna, consider using some of these native plants.

native maryland plants blue sedge

Blue Sedge (Carex flacca)

Blue Sedge is one of our favorite native plants and is prized for its soft blue foliage. This beautiful sedge forms a slowly spreading clump of narrow, arching leaves, blue-green above and glaucous-blue beneath.

It bears inconspicuous, slender, brown flower terminal spikes in early summer, upright at first then slightly nodding over. Reminiscent of the garden carnation foliage, Blue Sedge is an excellent choice for naturalizing since this species spreads steadily to form a dense, fine-textured groundcover.

Blue Sedge will grow quickly to about 6-12 inches tall (15-30 cm) and 12-18 inches wide (30-45 cm). This plant will spread over time by rhizomes to form a dense ground cover. It enjoys full sun to part shade and thrives in medium to wet soils.

It is drought tolerant once it becomes established. It is a perfect plant to use along streams, in rain gardens, or in naturalized areas. The soft blue foliage can brighten up any garden!

native maryland plants wool rush grass

Wool Rush or Wool Grass (Scirpus cyperinus)

Wool Rush or Wool Grass (Scirpus cyperinus) is a  graminoid of the sedge family found throughout Maryland. It gets its name from the wooly, cinnamon-brown mass of seeds that ripen in summer.

The plant is characterized by its full sun to light shade preference, moist to wet soil requirements, and its ability to form dense clumps 2-3 ft in diameter.

Wool Rush is excellent for providing textural contrast and movement in the garden and is especially well-suited for the Maryland climate. The attractive basal foliage remains attractive well into winter, making it an excellent choice for dried arrangements.

It is also the host plant for various beneficial insects, including butterflies such as the Dion Skipper and the Eyed Brown, making it the perfect addition to any butterfly garden.

native maryland plants little blue stem schizachyrium scoparium

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

The Blue-green leaves of Little Bluestem, a native grass with an upright form and brilliant blue-green color, are highly decorative. The foliage is beautiful all year and serves as the perfect backdrop for prairie flowers. By autumn, when it becomes a striking crimson brown, densely mounded Little Bluestem reaches a height of three feet or

This grass is a valuable food source for many animals, including deer, rabbits, quail, and songbirds. Little Bluestem also provides excellent nesting cover for these and other birds. The nectar-rich flowers attract bees and butterflies, while the seeds are enjoyed by goldfinches, sparrows, and other small birds.

Little Bluestems are perfect for anyone seeking to watch birds and other animals in their natural habitat from the comfort of their backyard.

This native grass is an integral part of the Maryland ecosystem. It stabilizes the soil and provides food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife. Little Bluestem is also a hardy plant, tolerant of drought, poor soils, and extreme temperatures. It is an excellent choice for landscaping in difficult areas for these reasons.

native maryland plants yellow indiangrass

Yellow Indiangrass (Andropogon nutans, Sorghastrum avenaceum)

Indian grass is a tall, plume-like, soft, golden-brown seed head with narrow blue-green blades and broad dark green leaves. This spectacular perennial has a rich orange to purple fall color.

The grass is lovely, with a golden sheen to its flowering parts. It is a critical component of tallgrass prairies and is eaten by livestock. It seems to be favored by periodic flooding and recurring burning, and it sometimes grows nearly pure stands in the lowlands. 

Yellow Indiangrass is the perfect grass for a sunny, dry spot in your garden. It is drought-tolerant and adds a touch of color to your landscape in the summer and fall. This grass also provides food and shelter for wildlife.

Now that we’ve covered native grasses let’s move on to flowers!

Maryland Wildflowers

Some of our favorite native plants, wildflowers, add color and beauty to the landscape. They are also an important food source for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds.

Many native wildflowers are well-suited for landscaping in Maryland. Below are some of our favorites to help you choose native plants that fit your tastes:

gaillardia pinnatifida yellow blanket flower

Blanketflower (Gaillardia pinnatifada)

The Hopi blanketflower, also known as the red dome blanketflower, is a perennial sunflower (Asteraceae) native to northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Sonora) and the southern United States (from southwestern Kansas south to central Texas and west to southern Nevada).

Galardia pinnatifida is a perennial plant with hairy, wavy to lobed leaves up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) long that grow halfway up the stem and have a solitary flower head on top with 7-12 yellow ray flowers and numerous densely packed orange-brown to purple disk flowers. The ray flowers are usually sterile, and the disk flowers are generally bisexual. The plant blooms from May to October.

This drought-tolerant plant is an excellent addition to any garden, especially in dry, sunny areas. It is also a valuable food source for pollinators, making it a perfect choice for a butterfly or bee garden.

Blanketflower is a beautiful addition to any landscape. It is drought-tolerant and provides food for pollinators. This native wildflower is an excellent choice for a sunny, dry spot in your garden.

native maryland plants alumroot Heuchera americana

Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii)

Prairie Alumroot is a tiny plant with evergreen rosette leaves that grow to be one foot tall. Each leaf is 3-5 inches broad and long, has a hairy top and lower surface, and resembles a heart with five shallow lobes and fine teeth on the margins.

The leaves are held up by 6-12 inch hairy leaf stalks (petioles). The petioles attach to the plant’s central stem. The stem never grows more than an inch tall and is connected to a very fibrous root system.

The leaves shrivel in the fall and revert to green in the spring, appearing orange or brownish. In June, the flowering stems (inflorescences) grow to two to three feet and produce tiny 1/8 inch yellow-green blooms.

Prairie alumroot is a perennial herb that grows in damp to dry soils in grasslands, savannas, and woodlands. It thrives best on slopes or poor, rocky soil with less competition from taller plants. It can grow in various soils (including rich soil) if they are properly drained and in full sun to partial shade.

Because of their small size, alumroot plants are perfect for use in rock gardens or as edging along pathways and walkways. They are also a good choice for container gardens.

native maryland plants rudbecki ahirta black eyed susan

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

The ordinary Black-Eyed Susan may be found throughout the state of Maryland. It is most likely to appear in areas where the soil has been disturbed, such as dirt roadsides and ancient fields. R. hirta var. hirta, another variant, inhabits Western Maryland into the prairie states, where it can often be found in areas where the soil has not been disturbed.

All three varieties of Black-Eyed Susan grow to about 2 feet tall and have similar-looking blooms. The ray flowers of the blossom are bright yellow, while the disk flowers are black. The plants typically bloom from July to September.

Black-Eyed Susans provide essential nectar and pollen resources for bees, wasps, butterflies, and other insects. These pollinators, in turn, spread the pollen of the flower, allowing the plant to produce seeds. The seeds are an essential food source for various birds, such as goldfinches, and small mammals, such as chipmunks and mice, making them the perfect addition to any backyard wildlife habitat.

native maryland plants blue wood aster Aster cordifolius

Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius)

The blue wood aster is a perennial herb found in damp to dry soils in grasslands, savannas, and woodlands. It thrives best on slopes or poor, rocky soil with less competition from taller plants. It can grow in various soils (including rich soil) if they are properly drained and in full sun to partial shade.

The plant has hairy leaves that bloom in August and October and violet flowers. The plant attracts bees and other insects.

The blue wood aster is an excellent plant for rock gardens or edging along pathways and walkways. It is also a good choice for container gardens. The plants provide important nectar and pollen resources for various bees, wasps, butterflies, and other insects.

native maryland plantsbutterflymilk weed

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a stunning wildflower that grows up to 3 feet tall. It has a long bloom period, from June to September, and thrives in well-drained soils. While it does require some maintenance, like other milkweeds, it is also susceptible to attack by the invasive oleander aphid; it is an excellent cut flower.

The showy blooms of the flower are orange and clustered tightly along the stem. Each flower is about an inch across, with five petals arranged in a star shape. The leaves are long and narrow and grow up to 6 inches in length. The foliage is a bright green color and is covered in tiny hairs.

This wildflower is tolerant of drought and can reseed itself, making it a good choice for xeriscaping. It is also deer resistant.

Some of the best nectar plants for various pollinators, the flowers provide food for adult butterflies and are the host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars. When planting any milkweed species) to attract monarchs, be sure to plant several specimens or add additional milkweed species to your garden.

This wildflower is perfect for adding to garden beds, xeriscaping, roadsides, dry meadows, rock gardens, pollinator gardens, and monarch waystations. It also does well on steep road cuts and at the top of south-facing stone walls.

native maryland plants lobelia cardinalis

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) is found in wet woods and meadows throughout Maryland. The plant grows to a height of 2-4 feet and blooms intensely velvety red flowers from July to September. Cardinal Flower prefers shade or partial shade but can grow in full sun if the soil is consistently wet. The plant does best in rich, moist soils of any texture.

Gardeners can also sow the seeds directly into bare soil wherever they would like to see flowers the following year. A few plants will flower the first year, with more blooming in subsequent years.

Because of their ability to thrive in moist environments, cardinal flowers are a popular addition to shade gardens, pollinator gardens, hummingbird gardens, and damp/wet locations.

native maryland plants eastern columbine aquilegia canadensis

Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a beautiful and popular wildflower that blooms in the spring. It prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil and grows to a height of 2-3 feet. The plant produces red and yellow flowers in late spring and early summer.

Eastern Columbine is an excellent choice for butterfly gardens, hummingbird gardens, and rock gardens.

The flowers are long-lasting, making this plant a good choice for cut flower arrangements.

native maryland plants fox glove beard tongue

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is a beautiful wildflower that blooms at the end of spring and the beginning of summer. The plant grows to a height of 2-3 feet and produces pink, tubular flowers. Foxglove Beardtongue prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.

This wildflower is a good choice for butterfly gardens and hummingbird gardens. Plus, the flowers are long-lasting and make excellent cut flowers.

native maryland plants great blue lobelias iphilitica

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Lobelia siphilitica is a beautiful wildflower that blooms in late summer and early fall. The plant grows to a height of 1-4 feet and produces blue to violet flowers. It’s easy to grow and prefers full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.

This wildflower is suitable for gardens, moist or wet meadows, and perennial beds.  The blooms also attract swallowtail butterflies and bumblebees.

native maryland plants joe pye weed eutrochium fistulosum flowers

Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium fistulosum)

Joe Pye Weed is a 6-foot-tall wildflower that blooms from July to September. The plant produces lavender flowers and prefers full sun to partial sun and moist soils. Joe Pye Weed is an excellent choice for backyards because the flowers attract swallowtail butterflies and bumblebees.  Deer have been known to eat this plant, but it recovers quickly.

native maryland plants new york ironweed

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

This plant is easy to grow and has a strong clumping habit. It is a perennial, so you can plant it in your garden, and it will come back every year. It grows well in average soil (but not dry soil). If you have several plants, you can trim them back in May or June to make them bloom for a more extended period.

New York Ironweed is a beautiful wildflower that blooms in late summer and early fall. The plant grows to a height of 3-8 feet and produces deep lavender flowers. New York Ironweed prefers full sun to partial sun and moist to average moisture soil.

This wildflower is suitable for perennial beds, specimen plants, native meadows, screening, ditches, and roadsides. The flowers are long-lasting and make excellent cut flowers. Deer have been known to eat this plant, but it recovers quickly.

native maryland plants rosemallow hibiscus moscheutos

Rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Rosemallow, also known as Hibiscus moscheutos, is a beautiful perennial wildflower found in wet meadows, pond edges, fresh and brackish marshes throughout Maryland. This flower typically grows 4-7 feet tall and features tropical-looking white or pink blooms with a dark red throat from July to September. Rosemallow prefers full sun to part sun and wet to moist, coarse, or loamy soils with organic matter.

Despite their bushy habit, Maryland species of Rosemallow are actually herbaceous plants, which means they die back to the ground each winter. Like other perennial wildflowers, it may be divided when the clump becomes too large or if new plants are desired.

In summer, invasive Japanese beetles may attack leaves and flowers, but this is uncommon and easily managed with a bucket of soapy water. In winter, the strong stems and interesting seed heads add structure to the garden and are useful in dried arrangements. Some gardeners trim old stems back in late spring once the new growth emerges.

Because the blooms are pollinated by larger bees, especially our native Hibiscus Bees., they are perfect for hedges, wet meadows, shorelines, pollinator gardens, and foundation beds. 

native maryland plants turkscap lily bugwood

Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum )

If you’re looking to add a bit of excitement to your garden, why not try hardiness zones for garden phlox range from 4 to 8 feet. Do a soil test before planting Turk’s Cap Lily? This perennial forb is a beautiful addition to any landscape and will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Keep in mind that this plant can be challenging to care for, so make sure you’re up for the task before you plant it.

Turk’s Cap Lily is a perennial forb found in wet meadows, stream banks, and throughout Maryland. This plant typically grows 3-5 feet tall and blooms with beautiful yellow-orange to reddish-orange flowers from July to August. Turk’s Cap Lily prefers full sun to partial sun and moist to wet soil, perfect for gardens with damp soil or those near a stream.

native maryland plants wild bergamot monarda fistulosa

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is a perennial forb that grows in poor, dry soils. It attracts diverse pollinators and deer and is rabbit-proof. If you are looking for a plant that will not take over your garden, this is the plant for you!

It blooms in  July and August and can be found in light shade to full sun. It grows up to 4 ft tall and is a member of the Mint family. This plant is native to Maryland and can be found throughout the state.

Because they attract diverse pollinators, they are great for gardens.

That covers all of the wildflowers; now, let’s discuss some of the native plant species in the shrub category.

Maryland Shrubs

Many types of shrubs can be found in Maryland, each with its own unique features and benefits. These shrubs include the Hillside Blueberry, Inkberry Holly, Leucothoe, Northern Bayberry, Red Chokeberry, Virginia Sweetspire, and Winterberry Holly.

Let’s take a closer look at these native plants.

hillside blueberry

Hillside Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum)

Hillside blueberry is a low-bush variety of Vaccinium (a genus of flowering plants in the heath family) that grows naturally throughout Maryland. The plant, also known as dry woods or barrens blueberry, has found use in pollinator gardens and landscaping due to its ability to thrive in various soils and light conditions.

Hillside blueberry typically grows 1.5-2 feet tall, with white to pink blossoms appearing from April to May. The plant prefers full sun to shade but can tolerate a range of soil textures. If left un-pruned, Hillside blueberry will form colonies that carpet the forest floor. The plant’s fruit is consumed by various wildlife, including orioles, box turtles, and black bears.

Bumblebees and hummingbird moths pollinate the flowers. At the same time, chalcid wasps and several species of butterflies use Hillside blueberry as a host plant, making this shrub perfect for those interested in attracting wildlife to their garden.

native maryland plants ink berry holly berry Ilex glabra berries

Inkberry Holly (Llex glabra)

Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra) is an evergreen shrub native to the eastern United States Coastal Plain. It grows naturally in sandy woodlands, at the edges of swamps and bogs, and on sandy dunes. Inkberry tolerates periodic flooding, droughts, and salt exposure. It is adaptable to all soil textures, including clay. Inkberry grows slowly and spreads gradually by root suckers (rhizomes).

This is a dioecious species, meaning there are female and male flowers on separate plants. Small black berries will form only on fertilized female plants. ‘Compacta,’ ‘Densa,’ ‘Shamrock,’ and ‘Nigra’ are among the female cultivars available.

There are no specific male cultivars. The Holly Society of America noted in 2020 that some inkberries might have self-fertile flowers, or they may be pollinated by other Ilex species, such as Ilex crenata. This may account for berry production without a male inkberry.

Inkberry is deer-resistant and can be used in a hedge, foundation plant, privacy screen, pollinator garden, or anywhere else you want to add a little flavor.

native maryland plants leucothoe

Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana (Highland doghobble) or L. axillaris (Coastal doghobble))

Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana (Highland doghobble) or L. axillaris (Coastal doghobble)) is a 2-4′ high by 3-6′ wide shrub that is native to swamps, moist woods, and thickets in the coastal zone. It has urn-shaped, 1/4 in. long white flowers that develop in 2-3 in. long pendulous clusters or racemes in late spring. 

The flowers are fragrant but not generally considered a pleasing aroma. In winter, the foliage turns bronze to purple and is leathery with long lustrous leaves. It prefers a primarily shady location and moist, acid, well-drained soils. It is well suited for naturalized plantings and develops a graceful arching habit. It is also a good evergreen facer plant to hide leggy branches of taller shrubs planted behind it. The flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies, making them excellent for wildlife gardens.

native maryland plants northern myrica berries

Northern Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica)

Northern Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica) is a native plant found in marshes, tidal areas, dunes, swamps, and coastal plains. It can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the individual plant’s genetics and the impact of extreme weather in the winter. The leaves are very fragrant when rubbed or crumbled. Small waxy gray berries are produced on female plants only; a male plant is needed for pollination. The fragrant berries are used to make bayberry candles.

It might be challenging to discover nursery plants labeled as male or female. Some cultivars of this species are difficult to come by in shops or online, but they include Morella pensylvanica ‘Morton Male,’ M. pensylvanica ‘Morton,’ and M. pensylvanica BobbeeTM (female).

It can be challenging to find nursery plants identified as male or female. Cultivars of this species may be difficult to find in stores or online, but some examples include Morella pensylvanica ‘Morton Male’, M. pensylvanica ‘Morton’ (female), and M. pensylvanica Bobbee™ (female).

Rhizomes are the method by which this plant spreads. It’s excellent for screening, informal hedges, slope erosion control, wet ground, and salt-spray-exposed locations. Once established, it is drought tolerant.

The berries are consumed by various birds, including Yellow-rumped Warbler, Mockingbirds, Catbirds, Thrashers, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and Bluebirds. It is used as a food plant by moths from multiple families, making it an excellent choice for butterfly gardens.

native maryland plants red chokeberry aronia arbutifolia closeup

Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

Do you want a shrub that looks great all year long? Consider the Red Chokeberry. It offers interest from March to May with its white flowers, then in the fall and winter with its orange-red berries. The best part is that you can find it right here in Maryland, which means you don’t have to travel far for this beauty.

The Red Chokeberry is a deciduous shrub that reaches 1.5 to 13 feet in height. It’s part of the Rose family, and it thrives from full sun to partial shade. The soil can be any texture—even clay—and it prefers dry, moist, or wet growing conditions. As for its pH level, the Red Chokeberry can tolerate acidic soil that has a pH level lower than 6.8.

Not only is the Red Chokeberry easy to take care of, but it also provides many benefits for your garden. For example, it’s perfect for hedges, screening, and forest edges. It can also be used in bird gardens, slope erosion control, and pond or stream edges.

Additionally, the Red Chokeberry spreads by suckering (sending up new shoots near the base), so you can always keep it looking full and healthy by pruning out one-third of its oldest stems each year.

native maryland plants winterberry holly Ilex verticillata

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

The Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous shrub found in swamps and forested wetlands in Maryland. This shrub loses its leaves in the fall, revealing bright red berries that persist and provide beauty in the winter months. 

This shrub is often used for hedges, borders, foundations, rain gardens, and bird gardens due to its attractive berries. The berries have high value as a food source for birds such as American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Gray Catbird, and Eastern Bluebird. This also is a host plant for several moths, including the Sphinx Moth.

If you want to add this shrub to your garden, it is essential to know that it prefers full sun to mostly shade and any texture soil as long as it is moist with high organic matter. The pH range it thrives in is 4.5-6.5. Lastly, this shrub is native to the Coastal Plain but can also be found in Maryland’s Piedmont and Mountain regions.

Now for our last category of native plants, trees.

Maryland Trees

Trees are one of the most critical parts of our ecosystem. They provide shade, improve air quality, and help regulate temperature on a hot summer day. Trees also make for a beautiful backdrop in any garden or yard. You might have noticed an abundance of trees native to Maryland. Here are 3 of our favorite native trees:

native maryland plants blackgum tree leaf

Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Blackgum, a member of the dogwood family, is a large tree that can grow up to 90 feet tall. The blackgum is found in forests across Maryland and is known for its pollinator-attracting flowers, beautiful fall color, and unique alligator-hide bark.

This tree is also popular among wildlife for its fruits consumed by songbirds, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, squirrels, foxes, and bears. If you are looking for a large tree to add to your garden or yard, the blackgum is a great option as long as you have full sun to shade, wet to average moisture, and your soil has a pH of 6.5 or less.

native maryland plants eastern redbud cercis canadensis

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a  deciduous tree found in Maryland Piedmont, Mountain, and Coastal Plains. It typically grows 20’ to 35’ tall and has light pink to lavender flowers that bloom from April-May. The leaves turn yellow in the fall. This tree prefers full sun to partial shade and moist-to-occasionally dry soil. It is susceptible to Verticillium wilt, Botryosphaeria canker, and leaf anthracnose.

Eastern redbud makes a great small specimen tree for yards, woodlands, or pollinator gardens. It typically grows 20-30 years. Many bees are supported by the nectar and pollen provided by the flowers of Eastern redbud.

Some butterflies will feed on the nectar as well. This is a host plant for several species of moths, including the Io Moth and the White-Marked Tussock Moth. Some songbirds, such as Northern Cardinals, eat the seeds. 

With an Eastern Redbud, you can simultaneously have a beautiful yard and support wildlife.

native maryland tree white oak

White Oak (Quercus alba)

Lastly on our list of native plants to Maryland is the White Oak. The White Oak is a deciduous tree in the Beech Family. It can be found in Maryland’s moist to dry woodland areas and grows 60-100 feet tall. It blooms inconspicuously from March to May and prefers full sun to shade, although the growth of saplings is slow in full shade.

The soil it prefers is medium to dry and can be found in all textures. It is also acidic, with a pH below 6.5. Some good uses for the White Oak are as a specimen tree or group it into small stands, wildlife plantings, and reforestation. Do not plant into situations where soil compaction, fertilization, or other landscape activities will damage the root system and its mycorrhizal partners. For maintenance, consider the shocking option of not raking up the leaves; they serve many functions left in place.

Prune winter through spring if needed. The majestic White Oak is Maryland’s official state tree. Wildlife that benefits from this tree include songbirds, woodpeckers, bobwhites, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and even people.

It is also the host plant for many insects, including walking sticks and several butterfly species. Young trees are susceptible to damage by deer and rabbits.

So as a Maryland native, you should consider planting a White Oak in your landscape. It is a beautiful and majestic tree that will provide shade and shelter for many years to come.

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Hire a Professional Landscaping Company

Now that you know the most common Maryland native plants, it’s time to learn how to take care of them! The best way to ensure your plants are healthy and will continue to thrive is by hiring a professional landscaping company.

At Great American Landscapes, we have a team of professionals who can help you with all aspects of plant care, from planting to maintenance.

Growing native plants that thrive in our native Maryland landscape is what we do best.

If you’re looking for a professional landscaping company to help you create and maintain a beautiful outdoor space, look no further than Great American Landscapes. We can help you find native plants that will make your yard a masterpiece.

We offer a wide range of services to meet your needs and are dedicated to providing the highest quality workmanship possible. Contact us today to learn more about our services or get a free consultation!

Great American Landscapes

Great American Landscapes

Great American Landscapes makes your dream design a reality. Our designers can help you get the most from your home and garden by designing an area that is both functional and beautiful.

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