Native Plant Guide
Pollinator-friendly and water-wise plants for use in the home landscape

Many Oklahoman's are realizing the importance of bringing conservation home to their own backyards. Using native and Oklahoma-adapted plants is one of the best ways to create a home landscape that provides food and habitat for pollinators and other native wildlife, increases water quality and efficiency, and builds healthy soil. Below you will find a list of plants (all either native to Oklahoma or adapted to Oklahoma's climate) that are suitable for landscaping purposes and provide some sort of benefit that most exotic landscape plants do not. Try to match plants according to the soil type, soil moisture, and light level of your landscape. If you are planting pollinator habitat, be sure to have several different types of plants that flower in each season when pollinators are active (spring, summer, fall).


Click here to view the Guide as a searchable database

Wildflowers

 

Grasses

 

Ground Cover

 

Shrubs and Vines

 

Beneficial Herbs

 

What should I plant if I have...

A dry, shady area? Dry shade is one of the most challenging environments for landscape planting. However, some Oklahoma native plants are adapted to these exact conditions, including:

  • Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus)
  • Wild Strawberry (Fragria virginiana)
  • Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Blue Mistleflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
  • Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)
  • Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Turk's Cap growing in a shady spot

A spot that stays very damp? While plants need water to survive, overly saturated soil will eventually kill most plants. Some native Oklahoma plants that love constantly-moist soils include:

  • Common Milkweed and Swam p Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca and A. incarnata)
  • Wild Bergamot and Eastern Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa and M. bradburiana)
  • Narrow-Leaf Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera ameriacna)
  • Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima)
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) - prefers very wet soil
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
  • False Indigo Bush (Amorpha fruticosa)

Hairstreak Butterfly on Wild Bergamot

A dry, sunny area? If you have an area of your garden that tends to be dry and sunny, that may be a good place to plant:

  • Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
  • Blazing Star (Liatris spp.)
  • Barbara's Buttons (Marshallia caespitosa)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Big Bluestem Grass (Andropogon gerardii)
  • Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
  • Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)

Clay soils? Dense clay soils make for difficult growing conditions for many exotic garden plants, especially when the soils have poor drainage. Fortunately, Oklahoma has several native plants adapted to these soils, such as:

  • Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
  • Compassplant (Silphium lacinatum)
  • Slender Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum tenuifolium)
  • Buffalo Grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)

Sandy soils? Sandy soils usually have poor moisture retention, so plants with low water requirements are a good choice for these soils. Some plants to consider are:

  • Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
  • Lanceleaf and Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata and C. tinctoria)
  • Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium)
  • Indian Blanket (Gailardia pulchella)
  • Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Sand Plum (Prunus angustifolia)

Indian Blanket (Gailardia pulchella)

Acknowledgments

Several resources were extremely helpful in compiling this information. The book Oklahoma Native Plants by Connie Scothorn and Brian Patric is an excellent guide to using Oklahoma native plants in ornamental landscapes. The book Native Plants for Native Pollinators in Oklahoma, by David Redhage and Maura McDermott of the Kerr Center provides a great guide to choosing plants that will benefit pollinators and other wildlife. And the website for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (wildflower.org) provides a wealth of information about the wildflowers of the United States. Their "Oklahoma Recommended" is an excellent searchable database, where you can filter plants by characteristics such as bloom color, plant height, moisture needs, and growth type. All three are highly recommended to any backyard gardener looking to make more use of Oklahoma's beautiful and beneficial native plants.