Top 10 Native Plants for Your Michigan Garden

Purple coneflower plants in garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Native plants require less fertilizing, watering, and spraying—making them a welcome addition to any Michigan garden. Native plants have many advantages beyond saving labor, although that's the most immediate benefit. They're uniquely adapted to Michigan soil, climate, and water levels, which means they're much more drought and freeze resistant. Their extensive root systems help break up clay, prevent soil erosion, filter out pollutants, and rebuild the 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.

If you're just getting started adding native plants to your yard, the following flowers make perfect first additions to Michigan gardens.

  • 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, will reach up to 36 inches tall, blooms early to mid-summer, and is drought and clay tolerant.

  • 02 of 10

    Joe Pye Weed

    Eupatorium maculatum
    karma_pema / Getty Images

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

  • 03 of 10

    Purple Coneflower

    Purple coneflower plants with butterfly in center of flower closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    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 up to 2 to 4 feet, prefers full sun to light shade, and blooms early to late summer.

  • 04 of 10


    Blooming Blue Columbine Wildflower
    tvirbickis / Getty Images

    This exotic-looking flower comes in many colors like blue, white, yellow, and pink, and spreads quickly when in the right spot. Growing up to 36 inches, 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


    fotolinchen / Getty Images

    True to its name, this fragrant plant attracts lots of bees. Growing 2 to 4 feet, 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 inches to 10 feet. Leave seedheads on for birds after blooming.

  • 07 of 10


    White trillium


    db_beyer / Getty Images

    A pure-white spring beauty, Trillium is a rare find in other states. It's also protected, so buy Trillium only from a reputable nursery and do not gather from the roadside. It blooms in early spring and then disappears for the rest of the season. It prefers shady, moist woodland settings and it will reach up to 20 inches in height.

  • 08 of 10

    Evening Primrose

    Evening primrose

    Petegar / Getty Images

    A staple in many gardens for good reason, the Evening Primrose spreads quickly, tolerates poor soil and drought, and features clear bright yellow blooms. It flowers in early summer, grows 6 to 36 inches, and prefers full sun.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Michigan Rose / Rosa Rugosa

    Wild Rosa Rugosa Rose
    KenWiedemann / Getty Images

    These roses are not high maintenance. Grown as a shrub, they reach up to 6 feet, bloom all summer in shades of pink, red, and white. They are very fragrant, prefer full sun, and are tolerant of most soil types.

  • 10 of 10


    Pink Astilbe

    Roxiller / Getty Images

    A lush, large plant with fluffy white, pink, or red flowers, Astilbe makes a big statement. They grow 2 to 8 feet, prefer moist soil, partial to light shade, and bloom from spring to the first frost. They are very easy to care for and do not require any special treatment.

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. Planting native Michigan species supports the state's unique natural habitats, biodiversity, and wildlife. For example, a higher quality of food is provided for local animals by native plants, leading to improved overall health. 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.