We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

October Chesapeake Bloomers


Autumn is awesome in the Chesapeake!  And so it is also true for Chesapeake Gardens.  For those of us who desire year round garden interest, these nine native perennials are still doing their stuff in early October.  Sure, the blooms are more sparse and the flowers aren’t as vibrant but they still add color, structure … Continue reading October Chesapeake Bloomers

Joe Pye Weed


Joe Pye Weed is a plant in need of a rebranding! This perennial has a totally unfortunate name but many positive attributes.  It blooms in late August and September – always a good thing.  It’s easy to grow as long as it gets a couple of hours of sun a day.  It’s a pollinator magnet.  … Continue reading Joe Pye Weed

Clematis for the Chesapeake


In early September, small white flowers appear in clouds where Clematis Virginiana is blooming. The flowers create quite a scene en masse. This is a twining, perennial vine that loves to billow along a fence or wall.  It’s pretty easy to grow as it tolerates sun, part shade or shade and has average water requirements. There … Continue reading Clematis for the Chesapeake

Mighty Mountain Mint


Planting mint was one of the first things I did as a new gardener. Fun at first … it grew and grew and, then, as you probably know, oh no!  It went everywhere.  If you are looking for mint for your watermelon salad or iced tea, plant the herb in a container and enjoy.  For … Continue reading Mighty Mountain Mint

Hello Yellow


Yellow native blooms abound across the Chesapeake watershed in August. These are easy to care for, pollinator friendly perennials for sale near you that are fun to grow! The native perennial sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus) above is a loosely growing perennial that thrives in part shade and is tolerant of all sorts of soils.  It can grow … Continue reading Hello Yellow

Super Summer Sweet


Summer sweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a star for our Chesapeake gardens. This deciduous shrub blooms in the heat of summer with fantastic fragrance.  Summer sweet grows and blooms with white or pink flowers in full sun or part shade.  It’s easy care and rarely needs pruning.  It would make a handsome hedge. Bees and butterflies … Continue reading Super Summer Sweet

Astilbe: Plant This or That


In early June, spires of asian astilbes (Astilbe chinensis), above left and below, are majestic. The orderly whites, pinks and lavenders thrive in moist soil in shade. The native alternative has a slightly less regal name — goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus). Fortunately, the plant is far more inspiring than its name. Like astilbe, native goatsbeard, below, … Continue reading Astilbe: Plant This or That

Hydrangeas: Plant This or That


If you are gardening with natives, you have two hydrangeas to choose from: the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) and the smooth or wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). The smooth hydrangea is much more similar in shape and flower to the iconic blue and pink asian hydrangeas we all know. The blooms on the native smooth hydrangea … Continue reading Hydrangeas: Plant This or That

Hydrangeas: Plant This or That


May gardens in the Chesapeake watershed bring hydrangeas.  Blue, white and pink big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are beautiful ornamentals, native to Asia. Two hydrangeas native to the southeast are the oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) and the wild or smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Anabelle’).  Today, the oakleaf! Oakleaf hydrangeas are truly a four-season plant.  Pale, minty leaves … Continue reading Hydrangeas: Plant This or That

Siberian Bugloss: Plant This or That


Blue is a favorite early spring bloom color, whether it be Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), a favorite perennial at the top of the photo above, lungwort (Pulmonaria), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) or grape hyacinth (Muscari ameniacum) bulbs. Virginia bluebells (Mertensia Virginica), shown in the lower half of the photo above, are the native choice. Virginia bluebells … Continue reading Siberian Bugloss: Plant This or That

Barberry: Plant This or That


Barberries (Berberis thunbergii) have brilliant red fall color and, as a result, were widely sold and planted throughout the Chesapeake watershed.  They also escaped our gardens and are widely considered invasive. The good news is there is a terrific native alternative … the blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Atlantic’).  Blueberries have bright red fall color and more. Small … Continue reading Barberry: Plant This or That

Pansies: Plant This or That


March in Chesapeake country means pansies at markets, nurseries, and grocery stores.  Pansies were my grandmother’s favorite so I am partial to them too. Another option: take it up a native notch by using perennials and evergreens in containers to add flair and save effort over the longterm. The container above (and below) includes Christmas … Continue reading Pansies: Plant This or That

Plant This or That: Daffodils


Dare I say it … there is a native alternative to the daffodil (Narcissus)!  Yes, I know, I tread on dangerous ground now …lol. But, really, there are some great additions you can make to your Chesapeake spring garden. Early spring is one of those times when natives can be really critical … pollinators need … Continue reading Plant This or That: Daffodils

Forsythia: Plant This or That


As an early subscriber to Nuts for Natives, we value your interest and time dearly.  You likely received a random post this past Saturday about how much we want you to like native plants, which, of course, we do!  The post was inadvertently sent out as we tried to fix a technical issue.  Please accept … Continue reading Forsythia: Plant This or That

Pachysandra: Plant This or That


This is an easy one! As all gardeners know, the key to less work is to banish bare spots where weeds can emerge. Ground covers act like living mulch, preserving moisture and protecting soil.  When you get a ground cover that is happy and spreads, well, it’s pretty much gardening nirvana. Pachysandra is a very … Continue reading Pachysandra: Plant This or That

Cherry Laurel: Plant This or That


Winter is a great time to figure out if you need more evergreens in your garden. Without flashy flowers and foliage, any bare spaces really stand out. Evergreen cherry laurel, top left, is everywhere in the mid-Atlantic. It’s a vigorous grower, good for screening, hedges and foundations, and widely available. It flowers with white wands … Continue reading Cherry Laurel: Plant This or That

Witch Hazel: Plant This or That


For late fall and winter, gardeners look to create interest with structure, evergreens, berries, and interesting bark.  Very few plants, though, are actually flowering.  This is where witch hazel makes its entrance! These intriguing shrubs and small trees have a branching structure which can be quite architectural.  The fall color is gorgeous.  In our area … Continue reading Witch Hazel: Plant This or That

Cedar: Plant This or That


Cedars are seriously terrific trees — evergreen, stunning texture and usually fairly easy to grow. Blue atlas cedars (Cedrus atlantica) native to north Africa are common in our area.  They can grow to be huge specimens, like the one to the right at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.  The Chesapeake Bay region has its own magnificent … Continue reading Cedar: Plant This or That

Liriope: Plant This or That


In the dead of winter, and in the throes of summer, you can tie a garden together with evergreen grasses by planting in clumps, defining with edging, or covering the ground.  Liriope (Liriope muscari), left, is one of those grasses that is seemingly everywhere. Sometimes called lilyturf, it is hardy and hardly needs any care. … Continue reading Liriope: Plant This or That

Magnolia: Plant This or That


Magnolias are, indeed, magnificent. Fragrant blooms are literally frisbee size on some. On others, beautiful yellow or magenta flowers unfurl on bare branches in early Spring.  With hundreds of magnolias, there are so many possibilities. The Missouri Botanical Garden provides a great overview. The magnolia at the top on the left, and to the right, is … Continue reading Magnolia: Plant This or That

Boxwoods: Plant This or That


Boxwood (Buxus sempivirens) is a widely used evergreen shrub, particularly in formal settings and traditional plantings.  Often placed in rows along walkways, foundations or bed edges, non-native boxwood can be shaped into hedges and other shapes as seen below. In the mid-Atlantic, it is possible to find boxwoods that are more than a century old.  Boxwoods … Continue reading Boxwoods: Plant This or That

Dogwoods: Plant This or That


Native dogwood (Cornus florida) trees have it all: graceful, yet architectural, flowers unfurling as temperatures warm, seen above, an ability to thrive beneath larger trees and in shady spots, bright red, late summer berries that birds love, beautiful, subtle fall color also seen above, and winter interest in their fabulous arching structure that improves with … Continue reading Dogwoods: Plant This or That

Hollies: Plant This or That


Autumn brings the evergreen unveiling. As leaves fall, it seems as if evergreens magically appear front and center in the landscape.  Trees and shrubs that were backgrounders during warmer months are now “bones” giving the garden structure. In our area, hollies are easy to care for evergreens offering lots in the habitat department. There are … Continue reading Hollies: Plant This or That

DayLilies: Plant This or That


Daylilies (Hemerocallis), above left, are common. Cheerful color, unflagging reliability and endless variety make for their popularity.  A number of native perennials can match most daylily colors and most have a longer bloom period. Looking for orange? What about butterfly weed (Asclepius tuberosa), above on the right? Looking for yellows like the daylily on the … Continue reading DayLilies: Plant This or That

Azaleas: Plant This or That


In the mid-Atlantic, azaleas amaze every spring. Did you know that in addition to bright fuchsias, above on the left, and the pinks and clear whites from Europe and Asia, there are a number of native azaleas like the pale orange above on the right?  The contrast can be stark.  The subtleties of the natives, … Continue reading Azaleas: Plant This or That

Wisteria: Plant This or That


Chinese and Japanese wisterias (Wisteria sinensis and floribunda) are long time mid-Atlantic favorites. While the drape of the lavender flowers is short lived, they often evoke strong spring memories. If your Asian wisteria has taken off, you also know the effort involved to contain it. Importantly, the non-native wisteria has become invasive — from time to … Continue reading Wisteria: Plant This or That

Hostas: Plant This or That


Once summer hits its stride, it is great to have a couple of “workhorse” plants in your garden. These are plants that don’t wilt if we hit a dry spell and provide much needed color and texture;  flowers are a bonus. Hostas have been planted far and wide and it’s easy to see why. They … Continue reading Hostas: Plant This or That