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Best PA Native Plants

Best PA Native Plants

PA native plants have been around long before people arrived, and they thrive in their natural environment. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, "Native plants include ferns; grasses and sedges; annual, biennial and perennial wildflowers; trees, shrubs and vines that covered 'Penn's Woods' when settlers brought their agricultural plants to the colony."

Incorporating native plants into your landscaping plan has many benefits, including lower maintenance, lower required resources, and better support for local wildlife. Utilizing native plants is one of the best ways to conserve Pennsylvania's plant heritage. Bringing in non-native plants, even within small landscaping projects, can diminish the natural plant life and require much more pesticides than native vegetation does. Here are some of the best choices of native plants for Pennsylvania.

Trees & Shrubs

Pennsylvania, when discovered, was almost entirely forested. The term Pennsylvania is the Latin term for "Penn's Woods" and describes the vast woods that spanned the state at the time. There are hundreds of native trees within Pennsylvania, and the varying climates within the state allow for a wide selection of thriving species.

pa native tree red maple in carlisle farm field on a sunny but cloudy day

Red Oak - Provide food and shelter for many birds and mammals and support for over 34 species of moths and butterflies. Red oaks require full sunlight.

Black Birch - Provide a source of food for small mammals and birds, specifically through seeds and buds. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Black Cherry - Grows quickly and supports birds with fruit supply. Also supports over 400 species of moths and butterflies. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Black Oak - Provides food for wildlife via acorn supply. Medium-sized shade tree that prefers full sunlight.

Shagbark Hickory - Peeling, grey bark with yellow-green leaves that turn yellow in fall. Provides shelter for wildlife and attracts butterflies. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Eastern Redbud - Smaller tree with pink flowers in the spring. Large, heart-shaped leaves that turn yellow in the fall. Prefers partial sunlight.

Eastern White Pine - Evergreen tree with soft, long needles. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Flowering Dogwood - Medium-sized tree that provides food and shelter for many local birds. Gorgeous white flowers in the spring. Prefers full sun, partial sun, or partial shade.

Red Maple - Grows rapidly and provides cover and shelter for many local birds. Supports over 200 species of butterflies and moths. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Best PA Native Plants

Lowbush Blueberry - Bell-shaped flowers that fruits in the summer. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Purple-Flowering Raspberry - Large leaves and purple flowers that fruit in summer. Prefers moist soil and partial shade.


Perennials are plants that can survive cold weather and will typically return each year in the spring. Perennials can live for years, but their lifespan is dependent on the care they receive. Perennials may be a bit more expensive upfront, but they will continue to bloom for years to come making them a better long-term investment.

Best PA Native Plants

Black Eyed Susan - Golden blooms with brown centers. Shorter lived than other perennials, but the plant self sows. Prefers partial sunlight.

Canada Violet - White flowers with yellow centers that bloom in the spring on into summer. Great for wildlife and ground cover. Prefers partial shade and moist soil.

Wild Ginger - Deer-resistant and easily maintained. This plant has maroon blooms that prefer partial shade.

Meadow Phlox - Pink or lavender flowers on large stems. Attracts butterflies and prefers partial sunlight or morning sunlight.

Butterfly Weed - Bush-like plant with small and compact orange flowers. Supports butterflies and lives for a significant amount of time. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Best PA Native Plants

Ostrich Fern - Bright green ferns. Low-maintenance and deer-resistant, prefers partial sun or shade.

Purple Bergamot - Magenta flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Deer resistant and prefers full to partial sunlight.

Sensitive Fern - Light green fern that spreads quickly to establish a colony. Lasts until the first frost. Works well as a ground cover and is low-maintenance. Prefers partial shade.

Virginia Bluebells - Pink buds turn to blue clusters of blooms in the springtime. Works well with other ferns and is relatively low-maintenance. Prefers partial shade to full shade.


Native PA grasses can provide food and shelter to local wildlife and reduce soil erosion and runoff. Selecting the appropriate native grasses to Pennsylvania for your landscaping project is a great way to conserve and support the local Pennsylvania ecosystems.

Best PA Native Plants

Pennsylvania Sedge - Tufts of grass that work well in dry or shaded areas. Do not require cutting, and is deer-resistant. Prefers partial to full shade.

Switchgrass - Grass forms in clumps and varies in size. Stems can provide food and shelter for wildlife even through the winter months. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Indiangrass - Tall copper colored deer-resistant grass. Prefers full sunlight.

Wild Rye - Stiff grass that grows in tufts. Naturally deer-resistant. Prefers full to partial sunlight.

Riverbank Wildrye - Wide leaves and tufts that turns tan in the fall months. Prefers moist soil near ponds or streams and partial sunlight.

Working with a professional landscaper is the best way to find native plants for your landscaping project or location that you will enjoy for years to come. There is nothing better than a beautifully landscaped space that gives back to the environment and preserves local ecosystems. To learn more about how a professional landscaper can help you select the right plants for your area, send us a message.


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