Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Chrysogonum virginianum, Green-and-Gold Ground Cover Height: 1⁄2–1 foot Spread: 1–11⁄2 feet Bloom Color: Yellow Characteristics Mat-forming, herbaceous perennial Oval and toothed, velvety, medium green foliage Starry yellow flowers from March to June, then sporadically summer into fall Each flower is a button of small disc flowers surrounded by five bright yellow rays Spreads by rhizomes and sometimes self-seeds Attributes Tolerates limited: drought, flooding, and foot traffic; no serious pests or diseases; deer seldom severely damage Spreads steadily to form broad, virtually weed- free mats; spread easily controlled Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Average to rich, well-drained Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Dry, Moist Prefers dappled shade; the more sun it receives, incl. afternoon sun, the more moisture it needs Susceptible to crown or root rot if soil is poorly drained, overwatered or heavily mulched Remove spent flower stems for best appearance Use as a path edging or ground cover in rain or woodland gardens It is native to DC. It is absent in DE. It is native in all NoVA counties but Arlington. It is endangered in PA. It is present in Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties in WV. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5–9 Excellent Replacement for Hedera helix - English Ivy Ranunculus ficaria - Lesser CelandineThe Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic fact sheets were originally created to support a public education program, Making Your Yard Sustainable, developed by a team of the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (MGNV) and first offered to the public in January/February 2013. They were later incorporated into a Digital Manual of Sustainable Gardening, used in an October 2013 MGNV program, Designing a Sustainable, Maintainable Yard. These programs were based on the Landscape for LifeTM curriculum developed by the U.S. Botanic Garden and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas, among others. This set of nationwide teaching materials emphasizes the benefits of sustainable landscape design.

Vernonia noveboracensis (New York Ironweed) Perennial Height: 31⁄2–8 feet Spread: 3–4 feet Bloom Color: Red-violet to purple Characteristics Several erect stems arise from a single crown Rough, lance-shaped leaves grow on sturdy stems Brilliant composite flowers in terminal clusters on branched stems bloom from August to October Flowers followed by rust-color seed clusters Spreads by rhizome and seed Attributes Tolerates clay soil and wet soil; no serious pests or diseases; deer rarely damage Stout stems often persist throughout the winterEthnobotanic usesAttracts bees and butterflies to the flowers and birds to the seed heads; larval host to American Lady butterfly Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Slightly acidic loam Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Plant height can be reduced by cutting back stems nearly to ground in late spring Remove spent flower heads to control self-seeding Use at the back of borders and in butterfly, meadow, and rain gardens Despite its name, it is not abundant in NY. Rather, it is primarily concentrated in NY’s Hudson Valley Region, NYC and Long Island and absent in much the rest of the state. In PA, it is absent in the northern counties bordering NY. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5–9 Excellent Replacement for Buddleia species - Butterfly Bush Lythrum salicaria - Purple LoosestrifeIn June 2013, MGNV’s sustainable landscape education program received the Search for Excellence Award in the “Community Service Category” at Master Gardener (MG) College. MG College is an annual five-day event held at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, that provides continuing education to certified Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners.

Since the initial programs, the number of native plant fact sheets has grown and along with the companion Best Bets: Plants for Particular Uses and Invasive Plants and Better Alternatives (originally Problem Plants and Better Alternatives) have become important additions to the MGNV Web site to promote the use of native plants to a wider audience. Again, in June 2014, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia were recognized at MG College with a Search for Excellence Award. Their work on the native plant fact sheets earned a first place in the “Innovative Projects” category.

In 2015, MGNV announced the process of updating the native plant fact sheets with easier-to-read format, added information, and new images of plants that (mostly) can be visited in local public gardens. To supplement the individual plant fact sheets, a How to Use the Fact Sheets guide walks through the format line-by-line, explaining what kind of information is provided and defining many common gardening terms. The Sources and References section lists on-line materials that were invaluable in preparing the fact sheets and that you might want to visit for more detailed information.

The first video promoting a plant featured in the fact sheets debuted in 2016. Videos show how the featured plants perform attracting pollinators, how insects and other wildlife interact with those plants, or how plants transition from season to season.

Cephalanthus occidentalis, Buttonbush Shrub Height: 6–12 feet Spread: 6–10 feet Bloom Color: Creamy white Characteristics Deciduous shrub with rounded, irregular form Oval, glossy, medium green to dark green leaves Fuzzy white, fragrant flowers from early to mid- summer develop into ball-like fruits Dried clusters of hard nutlets usually remain through winter Inconsequential yellow autumn foliage Attributes Tolerates floods (up to 36”); intolerant of drought No serious pests or diseases Deer occasionally severely damage Attractive winter silhouette Attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, song- birds, waterfowl; larval host for Hydrangea and Titan sphinxes and Beautiful Wood-nymph moth Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Average to rich Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade, Shade (but needs sun to flower) Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Fast-growing and can be heavily pruned to control height and spread Reshape in spring and remove any dead growth Use in shrub borders, rain gardens, or naturalized It is mostly frequent-to-common throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region except in some of the northern counties of PA. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5–9 Excellent Replacement for Buddleia davidii and hybrids - Butterfly BushAlso in 2016, George Mason University chose MGNV for its Go Gaga for Green Organization and People’s Choice awards. The native plant fact sheets that provide homeowners with detailed information on how to incorporate native plants into the home landscape was cited as an example of successful efforts to educate the public about sustainable landscape management practices.

MGNV won first place at VCE Master Gardener College for its public education efforts through digital media in June 2017. Again the native plant fact sheets, one of which is featured every week on, played an important role in these efforts and continued to be the top pages visited on the Web site.

Calendar year 2019 began with the native plant fact sheets reformatted and updated with added information and new MGNV-generated images. Currently plans include adding a few new fact sheets to the Tried and True native plants database and a few new videos to supplement the fact sheets each year going forward.