6 Native Flowers that Grow in New York


Native flowers are low maintenance, resistant to local pests, and adapted to the local weather. Which native flowers should you consider growing in New York?
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Over thousands of years, native flora has adapted to New York’s hot, humid summers and cold winters. They’ve also developed resistance to local pests, soil, and erosion.

New York is home to various native mosses, ferns, grasses, sedges, rushes, wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and vines. They are low-maintenance and provide fresh air, clean water, soil stability, flood mitigation, and habitat for wildlife.

Native plants are essential to healthy, functioning ecosystems and are the cornerstone of our biological diversity. These plants are beneficial to your home garden or landscaping. 

1. Smooth White Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Smooth White Beardtongue is a clump-forming native perennial that produces nectar and pollen at the beginning of spring.

It is a low-maintenance perennial that grows best in full sun and well-drained soil, which can be dry loam or clay. Showy white tubular flowers emerge in late spring and early summer, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.  

Penstemon digitalis is an excellent plant for rain gardens and naturalized areas. It is free of any significant diseases or pests.

white beardtongue flower with a hint of purple

2. Northern Blueflag (Iris versicolor)

You can find Blue Flag (Iris versicolor) in nearly every county in the state’s eastern region; however, it grows abundantly in upstate New York. Homeowners will find it easy and rewarding to cultivate this plant near water features. 

It blooms with stunning violet-blue flowers in early summer. The violet sepals are adorned with yellow and white veins, and the flowers measure 2-4 inches across.

Blue Flag has thin bluish-green leaves that grow 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves have veins and appear to fold in the middle. 

northern blueflag iris versicolor flower

3. Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.)

Joe Pye Weed is a pollinator-friendly plant suitable for any New York garden. These hardy perennial flowers can withstand various environmental circumstances, including dry summers and low moisture levels. 

In the wild, they prefer damp soils and thrive in wetlands. The flowers appear in late summer after many other flowers have faded.

beautiful baby pink joepye weed flowers

4. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)

Milkweed gets its name from the milky white latex it produces when cut. Its round, dark green leaves are six to eight inches long.

Milkweed is a vital wildflower. Over 450 native insects consume the plant’s nectar, sap, leaves, and flowers. It’s also an essential source of nutrition for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

Eleven different wild species of Milkweed have been discovered in New York City. Three species are common, four are extinct, and the remaining are rare.

5. Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Great Blue Lobelia blooms early to midsummer with showy tufts of powder blue tubular flowers. It is an excellent plant for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.

The average plant has a one-foot spread and matures about three feet tall. It prefers moist to wet soil with plenty of drainage and nourishment.

Lobelia siphilitica grows well in partial shade or full sun and requires relatively little maintenance. It can even withstand moderate urban pollution.

Blue lobelia flowers  blooming in the garden

6. Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Monarda fistulosa, popularly known as wild bergamot or bee balm, is a common and prolific native plant throughout most of North America. It is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and has mint-scented leaves.

The scented flowers of wild bergamot attract hummingbirds and insects. The plant is commonly used as a honey plant, medicinal herb, and garden decoration. 

It has stunning pink to lavender flowers that bloom in the summer. Fresh and dried bee balm leaves can be used to make tea. The fresh flowers’ spicy flavor also makes them excellent for use as a spice or garnish. 

They make excellent cut flowers and are ideal for floral arrangements.

red wild bergamot flower
Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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