Best Bets: Plants for Particular Uses

Right Plant + Right Place = Success

Based on the fact sheets highlighted in our Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic library, Best Bets fact sheets recommend groups of plants well suited for a particular use, a special purpose, a distinct set of conditions. These lists are not exhaustive but they reflect the local experience of our Master Gardeners. For more information about how the fact sheets have been updated and tips on their use, read: Updated Website Resources on Best Bets for Particular Uses.

Tried and True Cover Crops

Cover crops are often transition plantings used in crop rotation or before establishing more permanent landscaping to improve soil texture, water infiltration, or fertility. They can be used in barren areas where soil is depleted, compacted, or eroded, but they also can serve as green mulch in beds. Many store nitrogen in soil, which promotes growth of later plantings.

Best Bets to Enrich Soil

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Tried and True Native Plants

The pdfs listed below link to individual Tried and True Native Plant fact sheets. For Best Bets to replace exotic invasives, visit Invasive Plants and Better Alternatives. Those pdfs describe problems posed by exotic species listed as invasive in the City of Alexandria and Arlington County, Virginia. They recommend native alternatives, with links to the Tried and True Native Plant fact sheets, that possess similar characteristics to the invasive plants but that provide benefits for wildlife

Best Bets for Dry Conditions Best Bets for Wet Conditions Best Bets to Attract Pollinators
These plants adapt to drier, well-drained sites and can tolerate local rain shortages. Most thrive in sun and heat, although a few prefer locations with some shade. Some also grow well in exposed areas or on slopes.
These plants help control storm water runoff and ponding by absorbing excess moisture. They are well-suited to conditions in rain gardens, in low spots that collect water, near downspouts, or along water’s edge.

These plants attract myriad beneficial insects. The red and blue superscribed numbers after particular species reflect the rankings for total pollinator visits and for pollinator  diversity over  3-year period during which Penn State Extension monitored 86 native species, e.g., Pycnanthemum muticum was ranked #1 for visits and #2 for diversity.