Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

What are your favorite native plants?


Given the number of native plant species that are available for purchase, I figure it will help most all of us to have a place to look for ideas. Plus I find that I often get into the most problems when I buy something I know nothing about! So I thought it would be great if people visiting this website have a spot to make recommendations based on their experiences. It would especially help people who are just getting started. If you have one or more favorite species–flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses–please take a moment to add a comment, list your species and add a few words about why you like it. Thanks!

3 responses to “What are your favorite native plants?

  1. joystewart July 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Wild Stonecrop flower close-upSedum ternatum groundcoverI already posted a blog on this website, “My Top 10 Native Plants” in 2012 but I have a couple more plants I can add that I have learned about since then. One is WILD STONECROP, a native sedum (SEDUM TERNATUM). I don’t usually think of sedums being native to Tennessee so this is kind of special. It grows in light to medium shade, blooms with white flowers in May and only gets 2-4 inches tall. It is a great groundcover for shade, and when it blooms in mass, it is pretty much of a knock-out. You don’t need that many plants to get started, and after a few years you have plenty extras to move to other sites (very easily done). Not too common on the market but I bought mine mail-order from Missouri Wildflowers Nursery in Jefferson City, MO. at $2.50 or less apiece. The mass planting photo is from my yard, and the flower photo is courtesy of Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

  2. joystewart July 17, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Lyreleaf Sage leavesLyreleaf Sage flowersAnother plant that I have had fun with is LYRELEAF SAGE (SALVIA LYRATA). A girlfriend dug some up for me on her property and gave them to me. The leaf has a wonderful striking pattern, and the salvia flowers attract lots of pollinators. I especially like it because it has such an unusual light tolerance, everything from heavy shade to full sun, and because it spreads so nicely by re-seeding on its own. So far, every time I see a new one, I say “Oh, good!” Maybe I will eventually reach a point where I say “Oh, no!” But it is a small plant that doesn’t bury everything around it, so I suspect it will be awhile before I am unhappy to see more. A bit hard to find at nurseries although I see that Prairie Moon Nursery sells seeds. Plus you can contact me (joylarry@btes.tv) and ask me to dig up & mail you a plant, provided the timing works. The leaf photo is mine; the close-up (enlarged) flower photo is from Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.

  3. joystewart September 29, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I hope others will add their favorite plants so I am not the only one posting. In the meantime I can’t resist adding one more flower. It is an annual so it is not in the database but it is a Tennessee native. It is SHOWY PARTRIDGEPEA (CASSIA FASICULATA). I think it is a charming, smaller (2 ft. tall) legume with pretty yellow flowers. It re-seeds itself so readily and comes up so quickly in the spring that it feels like a perennial. It blooms from June to October, needs full sun, and tolerates drier soils. It is supposed to prefer sandy to sandy loams soils but it is doing fine in my heavier clay soil. According to the US Forest Service it has some great characteristics—provides excellent erosion control, improves soil fertility & is very good at fixing nitrogen in the soil, and provides cover for birds, small mammals, and waterfowl when grown in dense stands. It is also larval food for the Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly. I think it is a charming, dependable addition to my native plantings and I am planning on getting more seed. The close-up photo is courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; the other photo is mine.

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