From milkweed to cardinal flower to blue aster, discover the best native plants for your area and learn how to plant and care for them in your own wildlife-friendly garden. We’ve gathered the top picks from all 50 states plus D.C.
The fascinating spherical white blooms of button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) are irresistible to pollinating insects, including butterflies and native bees. Button bush is native to moist, boggy sites across Eastern and Central North America. This species makes a fantastic statement plant, especially when covered with creamy white, golf ball-sized flowers. While the straight species can grow up to 12 feet tall, there are much smaller cultivated varieties available from the nursery industry. Button bush needs consistent moisture to thrive.
Runners-up: Sea myrtle (Baccharis halimifolia) is tolerant of sandy soils and salt spray, making it a great choice for coastal gardeners. In the fall, sea myrtle shrubs are cloaked in white flowers that provide pollen and nectar for native pollinators. The flowers mature into equally attractive silvery seedheads. Scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is a hardy perennial hibiscus that produces enormous, 6-inch-wide carmine flowers. Unlike other hibiscus, the petals of scarlet hibiscus don’t usually overlap, which gives the blooms a starrier appearance. According to the National Wildlife Foundation, up to 32 species of butterflies and moths in Georgia rely on scarlet hibiscus as a caterpillar food source, including the stunning io moth.