Native plants for a DC backyard?
August 1, 2010 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions needed for mid-to-low maintenance, ornamental, native plants that I can grow in D.C.

I have a small, shady backyard that I'd like to make a little more green and beautiful - I'm looking for some tough-but-attractive native plants that I can put in.

Nothing larger than a waist-high shrub is likely to fit, and 1/2 of it is pretty well shaded for most of the day. Flowering (esp. anything that will attract pollinators) would be a plus. Growing from seed is fine, but I'd prefer to be able to buy them as seedlings/transplants if possible.
posted by ryanshepard to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite has a clicky map that might give you some ideas.
posted by spilon at 11:47 AM on August 1, 2010

Best answer: Hostas are great as long as you don't live near one of the DC deer belts. The flowers aren't all that much, but there are hundreds of verities in every shade of green and with different height and shapes. To me, hostas and ferns scream "shade garden" and immediately make me feel cooler.

Add some heucheras too (also, more interesting for leaf colors than the flowers, and mine never naturalized but had to be replaced every few years). Astilbes are the best summer flowerers I found.

Azaleas and rhododendrons are the go-to shrubs for DC, I guess. Rhododendrons keep there flowers longer and aren't flowering at the same time as the fruit trees. I like acuba, but again, not much for the flowers.

These are all shade lovers because my garden was right under a giant beech.
posted by Some1 at 12:15 PM on August 1, 2010

Best answer: Your friends across the river in Virginia have some resources for you (use the info. for the Coastal Plain). See the tables and brochures at the right, etc.. Also, here is a list of nurseries from the Virginia Native Plants Society (it includes nurseries around the region, including VA, MD, WV, etc.).
posted by gudrun at 12:49 PM on August 1, 2010

I've found that Virginia Spiderwort loves the shade, has pretty blue or pink flowers, and is impossible to kill. (Our back yard is dark and has crappy clay soil, and the stuff still spreads like crazy.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:13 PM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - very helpful!
posted by ryanshepard at 9:15 AM on August 2, 2010

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