Top 10 Native Plants for Your Michigan Garden

Native plants require less fertilizing, watering and spraying are a welcome addition to any garden, so why don’t more people plant them? Most people are unaware of the existence of native plants, but a little research pays off big when planting Michigan native species.

Save Work Using Native Plants

Native plants have many benefits beyond labor saving, although that is the most immediate benefit to the gardener. Native plants are uniquely adapted to Michigan soil, climate and water levels, which means they are much more drought/freeze resistant. Their extensive root systems help break up clay, prevent soil erosion and water runoff, filter out pollutants, and rebuild soil. Furthermore, native plants require no fertilizer, winter protection, or additional watering after the first year. Native plants also stay green longer, thus slowing down wildfires.

Reduce Pests and Weeds 

Choosing native plants reduces the risk of non-native pests and invasive species entering the ecosystem. Native plants are less susceptible to disease and pest attacks and are much less invasive. Most common weeds are, in fact, non-native.

Support Natural Habitats

By planting native Michigan species, we support our unique natural habitats, biodiversity, and in turn support wildlife that depend on them. For example, a higher quality of food is provided for wildlife by native plants, leading to healthier wildlife. Many native wildlife species require very specific plants to survive, such as the Monarch butterfly, which needs several Milkweed species found in Michigan to live.


  • 01 of 10

    Butterfly Weed

    Butterfly Weed
    Derek Ramsey / Wikimedia Commons

    Showy bright orange flowers and dark green narrow leaves make Butterfly Weed a standout. It grows best in full sun, 18-36” tall, blooms early to mid-summer, and is drought and clay tolerant.

  • 02 of 10

    Joe Pye Weed

    Joe Pye Weed
    Liz West/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    A giant specimen for your garden, Joe Pye Weed grows 4-8’, with loads of mauve-pink blooms ​​late summer through fall. It prefers full sun and moist soil but is drought tolerant once established.

  • 03 of 10

    Purple Coneflower

    Purple Coneflower
    Duncan Harris/CC BY 2.0

    One of the best-known native Michigan plants, Purple Coneflower is also loved by birds for its seedheads, which should be left on the plant after blooming. It grows 2-4’, prefers full sun to light shade, and blooms early to late summer.

  • 04 of 10


    Christine Majul/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    This exotic-looking flower comes in many colors like blue, white, yellow and pink, and spreads quickly when in the right spot. Growing 9-36”, it prefers full sun or part shade, moist soil, and blooms in spring.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Bee Balm

    Bee Balm
    InAweofGod'sCreation/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    True to its name, this fragrant plant attracts lots of bees. Growing 2-4’, Bee Balm blooms in late summer with showy red/pink/purple flowers, prefers full sun or part shade and moist soil.

  • 06 of 10

    Black Eyed Susan

    Black Eyed Susan
    Jason Hollinger/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

    This garden staple is one tough plant. It blooms from mid-summer to the first hard frost with bright orange-yellow flowers and brown centers, tolerates any soil, and will grow in full sun or part shade. Many varieties are available in sizes ranging from 18” to 10’. Leave seedheads on for birds after blooming.

  • 07 of 10


    Eric Hill / Flickr/ Wikimedia Commons

    A pure-white spring beauty, Trillium is a rare find in other states. It is also protected, so buy Trillium only from a reputable nursery and do not gather from the roadside. It blooms in early spring, disappears for the rest of the season, and prefers shady, moist woodland settings. It grows 16-20”.

  • 08 of 10

    Evening Primrose

    Evening Primrose
    Arches National Park/Wikimedia Commons

    A staple in many gardens for good reason, Evening Primrose is hard to beat with clear bright yellow blooms, tolerant of poor soil and drought and spreads quickly. It blooms in early summer, grow 6-36”, and prefers full sun.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Michigan Rose / Rosa Rugosa

    Rosa Rugosa
    Michigan Rose/Andreas Rockstein/Flickr/CC by SA 2.0

    These roses are not high maintenance. Grown as a shrub 4-6’, they bloom all summer in shades of pink, red and white, are fragrant, and need no special care. They prefer full sun and are tolerant of most soil types.

  • 10 of 10


    Rosser 1954 / Wikimedia Commons

    A lush, large plant with fluffy white or pink flowers, Meadowsweet makes a big statement. They grow 2-8’, prefer moist soil and partial to light shade, bloom from spring to the first frost, and are very easy to care for.