5 Incredible Native Plants to the Northeastern USA

5 Incredible Native Plants to the Northeastern USA

5 Incredible Native Plants to the Northeastern USA

The Northeast US is home to many amazing places and incredible scenery! It's also home to some amazing native plants! Today, we'll talk about five native plants suitable for the Northeastern US.

Composed of 14 states, the Northeast holds Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Check out the third of six in a Native Plant series for each region of the US and learn more about Nature Hills' Top Five Astounding Native Plants for the Northeastern USA!

Northeastern Native Plants

New England has a humid continental climate with cold winters and heavy snowfall from December to February. Coastal areas are typically warmer but Nor’easters and higher rainfall

For this article, we are defining native plants as plants that have been established in a given area for hundreds of years or are indigenous to an area. This definition is often paired with a geographic location, which for the Northeast is USDA zones 3 to 7.

Native trees, shrubs, perennials, and other plants are not only well-adapted to their environment and support their local pollinators, beneficial insects, songbirds, and wildlife!

Birch Tree

River Birch and Sweet Birch trees (Betula) are classic icons of the Northeastern forest and are making a comeback after the Birch dieback and Bronze Birch Borer. Also known as Black Birch, now there are many resistant varieties on the market! Find native and improved River Birch and Sweet Birch Trees, and native and resistant forms of Paper Birch here at Nature Hills! Best planted in a cool, moist soil location or on north-facing banks to keep them stress-free.

  • Growing Zones 2 to 9
  • Smaller, Toothy Pointed Leaves
  • Great Golden Fall Color
  • Ornamental Peeling Bark
  • Male & Female Catkins and Seeds
  • Bird-Friendly Trees!

These are outstanding unique specimens, look great in groupings, and provide light, dappled shade trees for your landscape. Find Birch Trees for your region here!

American Cranberrybush

American Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) is a flowering and fruiting deciduous shrub that also features incredible fall color! Varying in size, the mophead and lacecap flowers are pollinator favorites, and the developing red fruit is beloved by humans and wildlife alike!

  • Growing Zones 2 to 7
  • Colorful New Growth & Amazing Fall Color
  • Pointed-Lobed Maple-Leaf Like Foliage
  • Bright White Flowers
  • Red Edible Berries

From the small Spring Red Compact and Spring Green Compact to the large American Highbush Cranberrybush and Wentworth, and every size in between is available for your native landscape!

Canadian Hemlock

The soft and pendulous Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) are arching 60-70 feet tall coniferous Evergreens that are dense and full at maturity. Canadian Hemlock is a gorgeous evergreen tree to include in your landscapes and prominent wildlife and songbird habitats. The strong, pyramidal shape, dipping lower branches, and dark foliage provide an excellent backdrop year-round.


  • Growing Zones 3 to 8
  • Pendulous Pyramidal Evergreens
  • Soft Dark Green Needles - 60-70 Feet Tall
  • Handles Some Shade
  • Loves Cool Moist Forests
  • Prominent Wildlife & Songbird Friendly Trees

The Hemlock are long-lived trees that can live for hundreds of years. You'll cherish this tree as it adds a visual element of strength and grace to your landscape.

Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium) is an upright perennial Ornamental Grass with a bluish hue to the blades in the spring and transforming to an orange tint in the fall. No landscape is complete without Little Bluestem Grass. Topped with small white seed heads in the fall that last until spring, Little Bluestem seed heads provide winter interest and can be used in floral arrangements. Standing about two to three feet tall, it is ideally suited for landscape use.

  • Growing Zones 3 to 10
  • 2-3 Feet Tall Perennial Ornamental Grass
  • Moderate To Low Moisture Needs Grass
  • Also Known As Bearded Grass
  • Tall Prairie Grass With Silvery Blue Blades & Orange Fall Color

There are many native and cultivar forms of Little Bluestem, all of which vary in size and color available today. These highly adaptable native grasses can be found frolicking throughout most of the eastern two-thirds of the US!

Dutchman’s Pipe Vine

The Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia durior) is a gorgeous climbing and groundcover vine with truly unique flowers and lush green, heart-shaped foliage! Named for the exotic-looking flared trumpets that form in the late spring to early summer, the flowers are greenish yellow and shaped like their namesake, but the flared opening can be purple or burgundy speckled with green throats. They resemble tropical carnivorous Pitcher Plants! Dutchman's Pipe is also a beneficial Host Plant for the Swallowtail Butterfly, providing food for its larvae, while offering up protection and food for other pollinators!

  • Unique Flared-Trumpet-Shaped Purple/Burgundy/Green Flowers
  • Fast-Growing Vine or Groundcover
  • Sun to Part Shade & Likes Average to Moist Soil
  • Growing Zones 4-8
  • Mature Height 20 - 30 feet
  • Mature Spread 10 - 20 feet

Pipe Vine can also be used in containers as vertical, climbing elements, or let sprawl over an unsightly fence for some fairly fast coverage. Native Pipe Vines have even been known to be evergreen in frost-free climates. Fast-growing and non-invasive, this native ornamental vine won’t get into trouble in your garden or your ecosystem!

Honorable Mentions

  • Sassafras Tree With bright yellow flowers in the spring, and red-orange leaves in the fall, Sassafras provides seasonal interest year-round. Reaching anywhere from 40-60 feet tall, Sassafras has been used for ages for a wide variety of culinary, herbal, medicinal, and artistic uses.
  • Honorable MentionsAutumn Brilliance Serviceberry Standing about 15-20 feet tall when fully mature, Serviceberry has something for everyone. In the spring, small white flowers appear in a very short window, followed by small, blueberry-like fruits loved by both people and animals.
  • Late-season sun perennials, the New England Aster with airy foliage and branching, are pollen and nectar-laden perennials with sunny yellow centers and lavender to purple rays of slender petals that butterflies and bees adore! These perennials are an autumn boon to migrating pollinators.
  • Sugar Maple Trees are among the showiest fall color Maples with a range of yellow, orange, purple, and red hues each autumn! Plus tasty Maple Syrup and lush shade!
  • Northeastern Native Wildflower Seed Mix - a collection of nine wildflowers that are typically found growing throughout New England.

Supporting Plants in the Northeastern US Climate

How can you help your plants along in the New England climate? There are quite a few tips and tricks that you can use to give your new plants the best start and keep them growing beautifully.

There may be other environmental conditions to take into account when choosing plants. One good thing about the Northeastern area is the amount of fertile soil and ample moisture access. You also need to take into account the cold, snowy winters and drying northern winds.

  • Choosing The Right Plants
  • The Right Location
  • Good Drainage or Raised Beds
  • Proper Way To Water
  • Mulch Mulch Mulch!
  • Nature Hills Root Booster

Choosing native plants that grow in your Growing Zone and weather, means they will not require as much care once established. Ensure they can handle the sunlight quality and quantity in your planting area, then find your Hardiness Zone. Then find more information on choosing Perennials and Shrubs for your area.

The higher rainfall, air humidity, and heavy wet snow can sometimes lead to plants struggling with powdery mildew and other fungal problems. So selecting a planting site that gives them plenty of air circulation and has access to the morning sunlight that dries leaves of dew, is vital.

Natives vs CultivarsWhen you can’t plant in your landscape’s soil due to it having poor drainage or being soggy - instead grow up! Raised beds, berms, and large planters allow you to control the soil your plants are in, and pinpoint water the plants without having to water an entire area.

Rain splashing on soil causes dirt to cover leaves and infect them with potential mold and fungal issues. In the higher humidity and rainfall that is common in the Northeastern US, you need to water at the roots of your plants, spread mulch around their root zone to stop splashing mud, and use the Finger Test method to ensure whether they need moisture or not. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses installed beneath the surface of the soil and mulch layers help save you time!

Speaking of mulch, this 3-4 inch deep layer of shredded bark, compost, and/or arborist mulch will make or break any success you have with your landscaping! Mulch holds moisture in the soil by preventing evaporation, and keeps roots insulated from heat and chill, while slowly breaking down and enriching the soil by adding organic matter to improve soil health.

Using Nature Hills Root Booster when planting helps you and your plant roots harness the power of mycorrhizal fungi that have a symbiotic relationship with feeder roots for the life of the plant! This living support network lives underground and helps roots take up moisture better and break down nutrients faster!

Tough Native Roots & Hardiness

Using Native plants in your landscape will not only echo the beauty of the native Northeast US but these plants are already adapted to the soils and climate of the area, increasing their chances of success.

Try seeing if you can find a place for each of these plants in your landscapes, and be amazed at how, with the right care and placing, they thrive.

Nature Hills ships plants with mature root systems that establish faster in your landscape and pump out bigger and more bountiful blooms year after year!

Search for native plants for your state on the NatureHills.com site, or you can contact your local County Extension Office for more localized information and support in choosing plants for your immediate area! They are a wealth of information at your fingertips!

Happy Planting!

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