The Plant Native

Best native plants for Midwest gardens

Living in the Midwest want to start a native plant garden? Here is the garden inspiration you were looking for. These native flowers, shrubs, and trees are easy to find, easy to plant, and will look stunning in your garden.

What is a native plant?

A native plant is a plant that has grown in a region for thousands of years. Every drought, storm, blizzard, and heat wave they have lived through. These plants are made to thrive in your yard with minimal care. There are hundreds of plants that are native to the Midwest! 

Why plant native in the Midwest?

There are three big reasons to plant native:

  1. Native plants give bugs, birds, and butterflies the food and homes they need
  2. Planting native lets you be a lazy gardener: they rarely require water besides rain once they are established
  3. Native plants are gorgeous: your neighborhood or yard will look incredible

Now that we’ve touched on the benefits of planting native, let’s explore some showstopper plants that are native to the Midwest.

We’ve organized it by flowers, grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees. Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can find your favorites, no matter if you’re at the nursery or exploring a friend’s garden.

Native flowers for Midwestern gardens

Plant any (or all!) of these native flowers to give food to butterflies, hummingbirds, and pollinators.

Heuchera 'Green-Spice' by Patrick Standish

Alum Root (Heuchera)




Bee Balm


Black-Eyed Susan


Blazing Star


Blue Mistflower


Blue-Eyed Grass


Bluebell Bellflower


Cardinal Flower




Coreopsis (Tickseed)


Culver’s Root

Native grasses for Midwestern gardens

Grasses are NOT boring. Grasses are perfect drought-resistant pairings to help flowers pop. Leave the grasses exactly where they are throughout the winter to watch them turn into sculptures and while feeding songbirds.

Native shrubs and trees for Midwestern gardens

These native shrubs and trees are made for Midwest weather, seasons, and sunshine.

Plant all these flowers together for a stunning native garden

Obedient plant + black-eyed susan + rattlesnake master = instant amazing garden

All the plants here look amazing in Midwestern gardens! Every one of these plants is also a perennial, meaning they will come back year after year looking better than ever.

Every one of these plants is easy to grow. After their first year being established, each of these flowers will come back year after year and require nothing fancy to keep going besides rain. Planting native plants ensures our gardens look amazing and our water bills stay low. You don’t have to have a botany degree to have a garden! Plant these easy natives and enjoy a gorgeous Midwest yard all summer long.

Best native plant books for Midwestern gardens

The Plant Native has read a lot of books to create this website. Here our favorites for Midwestern gardens.

Got Sun? 200 Best Native Plants for Your Garden

Carolyn Harstad, 2013

Carolyn’s writing feels like you have a friend beside you, chatting over coffee. A great resource for Midwestern gardens.

Go Native! Gardening with Native Plants and Wildflowers in the Lower Midwest

Carolyn Harstad, 1999

Such a fun book to read, although with few pictures in color.


The Midwest Native Plant Primer: 225 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden

Alan Branhagen, 2020

Like the other books in this series, this offers photo-filled portraits of individual native plants. Good for easy inspiration.

We hope this got you excited and inspired to plant native in the Midwest! Explore our other native planting FAQs for native gardening or peruse the native plant library. Happy planting!

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