Fall has arrived, and with its generous rain and cooler temperatures comes an ideal time to prepare your garden for its 2022 blooming seasons. As you plot the stars of next year’s garden, consider installing plants and shrubs native to Southern Indiana. Although they’ve recently become more fashionable, native plants have long been good to Tri-State soil and pollinators.
Native plant shows and shops are popping up around the Tri-State to help gardeners craft the perfect field of blooms. So clear that brush, prune your flowering plants, and start designing a garden that is friendly to birds, butterflies, and bees, and beautiful to behold.
New to native plants? Start by contacting Goldfinch Native Plant Nursery, a local native plant nursery which we wrote about in the September/October 2021 issue, for guidance. A tip: Look for plants and shrubs that include a USDA-designated hardiness level of 6b; Evansville sits in this plant hardiness zone.
Tradescantia ohiensis (Ohio spiderwort)
Despite deriving its name from its tendency to grow at an angle mimicking a squatting spider, Ohio spiderwort is a spring delight, blooming a divine, deep purple starting in late March and lasting through late summer. Be sure to enjoy it over your morning coffee; its flowers close in the afternoon. Ohio spiderwort likes a spot in the sun or part shade, with moist, even sandy soil. Mid-summer pruning is needed to encourage new growth. A fun fact: according to Purdue University Extensive Service, tradescantia ohiensis flowers can be candied for cake decorations, while the stem and leaves make hearty salad greens.
Liatris aspera (button blazing star)
This three-foot stalk blooms late, loves the sun, and is topped by cheerful purple blossoms resembling firework-like constellations springing forth from a quarter-size button. A great landing spot for pollinators, the blazing star plant performs well in dry to medium-dry areas, in shallow or rocky soil, and under summer heat and humidity — perfect for Southern Indiana’s menagerie of weather conditions.
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush shrub)
Looking for a conversation starter? Check out the buttonbush, a large shrub dotted with prickly white orbs that look like they’re stuck in Star Trek’s warp speed. Bumblebees are big fans of buttonbush, and so are amateur gardeners. The buttonbush is a pretty relaxed shrub, requiring little maintenance and adapting easily to different types of soils and surroundings, although it does best in full-to-part sun and moist soil. Look for buttonbush to bloom in June.
Lobelia Cardinalis (cardinal flower)
If you’re craving a pop of color in your garden, the cardinal flower is it. A perennial featuring breathtaking, fire-engine red spires, it blooms in late summer and does well in moist spots that often prove difficult for growing, such as ditches, marshes, and stream beds. A bonus: Lobelia cardinalis attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, two excellent pollinators.
Read more about native plants in our interview with Goldfinch Native Plant Nursery in the September/October issue of Evansville Living.
Photos by Goldfinch Native Plant Nursery