The Zinnia genus contains many species with flowers ranging in sizes and colors, including red, yellow, pink, orange, and purple. Zinnia is one of the easiest annuals to grow. Each brightly colored, daisy-like flower blooms on a single, erect stem. The flowers bloom from June to frost and attract many pollinators, including hummingbirds and butterflies. They also make excellent fresh-cut flowers. This annual will re-seed itself for next season. It is susceptible to powdery mildew; minimize overhead watering and wetting leaves to avoid this disease. Use Zinnia in mixed borders, beds, butterfly gardens, and for colorful accents around your yard. Smaller varieties can be used for edging and in containers.
Cranberry is a low-growing, woody vine with small, white-pink flowers, which bloom in abundance, May-July. The flower nectar offers a valuable food source for native bees. The edible, tart fruit, which ripens in September-October, is used in pies, muffins, sauces, and other dishes. The small green leaves turn bright red in fall. Cranberry grows in wet, boggy areas in the wild. It can be used as an evergreen groundcover in moist areas of your yard, or grow it as a specimen plant in your small garden. It is typically grown in a mass for commerical production.
Highbush Blueberry is a flowering deciduous shrub with edible fruit. It features white to pinkish-white flowers, which bloom in May, offering a valuable early nectar source for native bees. The edible fruit ripens June-July, providing food for birds. The berries are used in pies, muffins, and other dishes, and eaten fresh! Highbush Blueberry offers lush green foliage in the summer, and yellow, bronze, orange, or red foliage in fall. Reddish stems offer ornamental value in winter. Plant Highbush Blueberry as a shrub border, in a small garden plot, or in naturalized areas of your yard.
Lowbush Blueberry is a flowering deciduous shrub with edible fruit. It features small, white, bell-shaped flowers with pink/reddish edges, which bloom April-May, offering a valuable nectar source to native bees. The sweet and edible fruit ripens in summer and provides an important food source for birds. The berries are used in pies, muffins, and other dishes, and eaten fresh. Showy fall foliage is bronze, scarlet, and crimson. Plant Lowbush Blueberry along borders, as a tall groundcover, as small hedges, or in naturalized areas of your yard.
Goat’s Rue features attractive, yellow-pink bi-colored flowers, which bloom May-August. The nectar is a valued food source for native bees and butterflies. Goat’s Rue is a host plant for butterfly and moth larvae (caterpillars), including Southern Cloudywing (Thorybes bathyllus). The seeds are eaten by ground birds. The roots fix nitrogen in the soil; they also contain rotenone, which is toxic to insects and fish. Goat’s Rue can be planted by seed; plant it in meadows, borders, and naturalized areas of your yard. It is difficult to transplant once established.
Lamb’s Ear is grown for its fuzzy, soft, ornamental leaves. The non-descript flower is often removed by gardeners to enhance the appeal of the foliage. It prefers sandy, dry soil and full sun. Lamb’s Ear is susceptible to midsummer foliage decline in humid climates; pick off the browned leaves to stimulate new leaf growth. This hardy plant tolerates rabbit, deer, drought, Black Walnut, air pollution, and a range of undesirable conditions that deter many other plants from optimum growth. Use Lamb’s Ear along edges of walkways, in mixed borders to offer texture, or as a groundcover in a small area of your yard.
Prairie Dropseed is an ornamental grass with pink- and brown-tinted flowers blooming August-October. Prairie Dropseed provides nesting material and structure for native bees. It tolerates air pollution and Black Walnut, as well as a wide range of soils, including clay. Prairie Dropseed creates good groundcover for hot, dry areas, or use it as an accent plant around your yard.
Salvia,or Sage, is a large genus offering many species in various sizes and colors. Sage is a wildlife-friendly plant, which is very attractive to hummingbirds, numerous native butterfly species, native bees, bumblebees, and honey bees. Sage is typically a low-maintenance plant tolerant of dry soil. It offers consistent summer blooming. Use it in mixed borders and butterfly gardens, or to provide colorful accents around your yard.
Virginia Rose features pink flowers which bloom June-August. This plant provides a nectar source and nesting material for native bees and honeybees. Virginia Rose is valued by beneficial predatory insects, which prey on garden pest insects. The fruit, called “hips,” contain vitamin C. Fall foliage is purple, to orange-red, to crimson and yellow. The red fruit and canes can be attractive in winter. Use Virginia Rose in the back of borders, along foundations, and in natural areas of your yard.
Swamp Azalea’s fragrant clusters of white to pale-pink flowers with extended stamens bloom mid-May-July. The flowers have a clove-like scent, and the nectar is attractive to bumblebees. Swamp Azalea leafs-out before blooming. Its native New Jersey habitat includes swamps and bogs, so it prefers a moist substrate in a partly shady area in your yard. Swamp Azalea is flood-tolerant, but is intolerant of juglones (chemical in the roots of Black Walnut). Use Swamp Azalea in rain gardens, woodland gardens, shade gardens, and massed in shrub borders. As with many Azaleas and Rhododendrons, all parts of this plant are poisonous.