Native plants are ideal for creating a perfect place for birds, butterflies, bees, and all pollinators to flourish. Native plants also are hardier and more disease resistant. Here are 9 beautiful ones for the Midwest that you want in your yard.
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9 Beautiful Native Plants You Need for Your Midwest Garden
Native plants are almost always preferred by butterflies, bees, birds, and other pollinators. They are the toughest, most disease-resistant, and will withstand the sometimes-harsh Midwest winters.
This is why we have annuals. They aren’t native, so they can’t withstand the entire year here. Native plants are also adaptable and able to make the changes they need to survive in the Midwest weather. Let’s dive in!
1. Mountain Mint
I feel this is a bit of a secret, and what a glorious, beautiful secret it is!
The Mountain Mint plant is a pollinators’ dream!!
This plant can grow a couple of feet tall and wide and is filled with tiny white or off-white flowers. These flowers are literally FILLED with bees, butterflies, and other pollinators all day long.
The amount of pollinators attracted to this plant is so vast that I’ve made quite a few videos to show my friends how many love mountain mint!
It’s visited by many honeybees that are undoubtedly using this sweet nectar for their honey. It’s an amazing, hardy, clump-forming growth plant that is also drought tolerant.
It also appears to be deer and bunny resistant. We have plenty of critters around here, and none of them have even sampled my four different mountain mint plants.
I grew three of these from seed, so they are fairly easy to start. You may also find the plants at your local native plant sales, which is how I got my first one.
If you do grow these from seed, I suggest protecting them until they get bigger, though. I grew two of these plants for a friend and gave them to him when they were only a couple of inches tall.
He reported to me that they were dug up and eaten, most likely by his local chipmunks or maybe squirrels. So be aware of that if you plant them very small.
They are glorious, and I highly recommend them to every garden lover who wants to attract pollinators. 🙂
This is another plant that I have taken videos of because it’s filled with bees.
These charming flowers will close up at night and last quite a while. They are also very hardy and drought-tolerant (even though they prefer not to dry out). Even in our driest Midwest summer, I barely water these.
Mine gets partial sun and thrives. I’ve never had to feed them, and they have barely spread out much beyond the area I have them, although I wouldn’t mind if they did.
Their leaf and body shape reminds me of a smaller day lily with the grass-like leaves. Mine are only about a foot high and wide, although they can grow a little taller.
The flowers have three petals, and you can get them in a couple of different colors, mine are a deep lavender color.
This would be a good beginner’s flower, as they are quite forgiving yet very giving to pollinators. Such pretty native plants!
3. Butterfly Weed
Ahh, the gorgeous bright orange flowers of the butterfly weed!
I almost always see a bee, butterfly, or other pollinators of some kind on it. And they are so pretty!
The butterfly weed is a hardy native to the Midwest that will also host the Monarch butterfly larvae. So if you see caterpillars on it, chances are you are supporting this delicate butterfly’s population! This is wonderful!
It’s drought, pest, deer, and disease resistant, so it’s a very hardy, forgiving plant to have around.
Plus, it’s beautiful. It’s cheerful flowers almost smile at you when you walk past these prairie native plants.
They don’t spread as the common milkweed does, but you can harvest the seed pods from them in the fall. Stored properly (they need cold-stratification), and you can plant more in the spring! I’m all about free plants!
Its flowers stay orange, while it’s leaves stay green. This is a super pretty, must-have native to have in your Midwest garden!
This plant isn’t a weed at all, but an incredible life cycle for the Monarch butterfly and countless other insects.
Beneficial Ladybugs and Lacewings will gladly lay their eggs on this plant, as they know there is plenty of food on it for their babies!
It’s a pollinators’ heaven!
The sweet-smelling flowers are full of nectar. These native plants will always have butterflies and bees all over the flowers, not to mention countless other pollinators.
The best native varieties of the milkweed include the swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).
Swamp milkweed won’t spread as the common milkweed will, and both are easily transplantable. You can also harvest the seed pods of both varieties easily for spring planting.
Common milkweed flowers smell like lilacs and are a pretty pink color. Swamp milkweed flowers are a deeper pink and bloom a couple of weeks later than most common milkweed. So both are great to have in your garden!
Support the Monarch and enjoy these beautiful native plants!
I think most of us are familiar with the beautiful coneflower! Seen in gardens everywhere, it attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators alike.
It’s a drought-tolerant plant that will reseed itself, although in my experience doesn’t seem to “take over” a garden.
You can also collect seeds yourself from this flower, but be aware that most plants started from seed won’t grow flowers until the second year.
The coneflower is native to the central Midwest and will add a splash of color and beauty to any garden.
Just don’t make the same mistake I used to make with these pretty native plants. When they came up in the spring, I would mistake them for weed and pull the poor little beauties out and toss them. So sad. Now I mark them or put a cage around them, so I don’t make that same mistake.
You can’t go wrong with this plant. Butterfly approved! 🙂
6. Bee balm
Bee balm is also known as wild bergamot, and is a definite welcome to any garden!
These native plants are a favorite of hummingbirds. I often see them going from bloom to bloom, especially on my red variety.
Butterflies and bees also love them and will always stop for a visit. Leave the spent flowers, and birds will eat the seeds in fall and winter.
This plant can get tall, so it’s easy to see its visitors. It also likes full sun and some air circulation around it. If it’s packed in too tight with other plants, it could get powdery mildew.
It’s pretty hardy, and I’ve never seen any deer or bunnies nibbling on it. It will also spread readily, so you’ll have more plants the following season to transplant if wanted. My small bee balm has definitely taken over a bigger spot in the past couple of years, but that’s fine for me!
Sitting on the deck watching the hummingbirds drink nectar from it is a peaceful, welcoming way to unwind after a busy day. 🙂
Choose your color and bring in the pollinators!
Gayfeather is also known as Liatris, Blazing Star or Blazing Meadow Star. This beautiful plant has a stalk of tiny flowers that stands out above the rest of it.
It’s almost like it’s raising its hand, telling all the pollinators and hummingbirds that it’s here to feed them!
It flowers from top to bottom from about the middle of summer to early fall. It has pretty, dark green foliage that never seems to get yellow or brown, even in the driest of summers. The leaves turn a rich bronze color in the fall, it’s so pretty!
It thrives in full sun, is mostly pest-resistant, disease-resistant, and the deer leave it be.
Seeds are easy to save, and plants are easy to grow from seeds.
These native plants are a nice addition to any yard!
The goldenrod has a bad rap as a weed. Yet it’s beautiful buttery yellow blankets meadows and fields everywhere from mid-summer into fall.
This gives migrating Monarchs and other pollinators nectar to live on long after many other flowers die back for the season.
I allow several patches of this pretty yellow flower in my yard and enjoy watching butterflies and bees visiting it.
Almost the entire plant is covered in tiny, bright yellow flowers, and it survives in almost any soil or location. However, it prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
There are dwarf varieties that can be purchased as well. I bought some of these as seeds, and they stay small and compact.
Consider adding these native plants to your yard. Then sit back and enjoy flowers and butterflies in the fall!
Baptisia, also known as false indigo, are beautiful native plants of North America. Their very deep and long root system helps them successfully survive Midwest winters.
These beautiful plants have long-lasting flowers that bloom from late spring into summer. Attractive seed pods follow the flowers, and the foliage stays true to color all season long.
It doesn’t take a lot of work to make this plant happy, although it flowers best in full sun.
Baptisia tends to be bush-like, so give this beauty a lot of room. Although it may take a year or so to establish, it’ll be around for decades to make you smile each year.
It’s also deer resistant, and yes, the pollinators like it. This plant reminds me of lupine, it’s so pretty. You won’t regret adding some to your yard! Bluestone Perennials have great selections of Baptisia!
Seriously so much beauty you can add to your garden, all while keeping it native! I’m in love with these flowers! They make me smile every time I walk by them and see butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators enjoying them.
An important note, I do not use any pesticides of any kind on my property. It’s a natural, beautiful full circle where birds eat insects, insects eat other insects, and beneficial insects eat the “bad guys.”
It’s amazing how it all evens itself and gives you one beautiful, happy, nature-filled oasis filled with native plants and other favorites alike.
I hope you found some ideas to add to your flower garden! Which one are you considering? Please share with me by leaving a comment below! 🙂
I grow all of these in my yard and over 50 more natives including shrubs and trees.
Teresa Parker says
I like the selection because it covers Spring, Summer and Fall blooming periods. Natives help the caterpillars and pollinators survive. The birds need the caterpillars to feed their fledglings.
Everyone please plant three natives for Spring, Summer and Fall even if just one. It will be part of a vast needed highway that connects all of us…
Christine Becker says
Thank you so much! I agree; all seasons are SO important! 🙂