With hot, dry summers, the Southern Midwest has some incredible drought tolerant plants that are native to the area that are sure to make your landscape look even more stunning in the hot summer months. Today, we'll talk about five native plants from the Southern Midwest United States. Native plants are defined as plants that have been established in a given area for hundreds of years. This definition is often paired with a geographic location, like the Southern Midwest United States. It is challenging to pinpoint an exact geographical boundary, as plants do not follow the same boundaries people do, so we will just limit it to the southern portion of the Midwest in general - zones 6 through 11.
Evergreen - Eastern Red Cedar
With small blue berries on the female trees, eastern red cedar is a wildlife favorite. The shreddy red bark, often obscured by the branches until you get up-close and personal to it provides an interesting contrast while providing nesting materials. Growing up to 40 feet tall at maturity, Eastern red cedar is ideal for screening and protecting your property.
Deciduous Tree - Bald Cypress
At first glance, bald cypress looks like an evergreen in the spring and summer. With light green-feathered foliage, reddish-brown bark, and soccer-ball shaped seed pods, bald cypress makes an interesting addition to any landscape. But the interesting thing about bald cypress is that come fall, the leaves shed and the tree becomes bald the origin of the common name. A stunning tree at full maturity, bald cypress can reach up to 65 feet high, and will be sure to be an interesting talking point in your landscape.
Shrub - Coralberry
If you have ever wanted to have pink colors in your landscape in the winter, Coralberry is the shrub for you. Small pink fruits persist throughout the winter months, giving you something other than the evergreens and dormant plants to admire. While not edible, they do make a beautiful addition to any cut flower arrangement. In the summer, the bright green foliage contrasts with the small pink flowers. Planted individually or in masses results in a stunning display year-round.
Flowering Perennial - Liatris
Also known as gayfeather, liatris is a perennial that will not be ignored in the summer months. Tall purple flowers demand attention, and the green foliage provides that contrast necessary to make that purple pop. Planted in full sun, liatris will reach up to two feet tall when flowering, making it a beautiful addition to any landscape.
Grass - Northern Sea Oats
The flat seed heads of Northern Sea Oats dance in the summer breeze above bamboo-like foliage. A spreading grass, northern sea oats will provide both summer interest with the seedheads before turning a glowing gold in the fall. The seedheads are favored by birds, and also make a unique addition to a cut-flower arrangement. Dead-heading the grass before the seeds spread will help to prevent the spread of this grass.
Each of these plants would be an interesting addition to any landscape. Because they are native to the Southern Midwest, they are ready to withstand the hot, dry summers that are characteristic of that region. To see our favorite native plants for other regions, check out these articles: Native Plants for the Northeast Native Plants for the Southeast Native Plants for the Upper Midwest Native Plants for the Southwest Native Plants for the Northwest