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Native Seed Exchange

The Best Plants for Your Landscaping

There are many compelling reasons to include native plants in your landscape. Native plants are uniquely adapted to a specific region’s climate, soil type, and growing conditions. The numerous beautiful native plants are easy to maintain, provide year-round interest and habitat in the garden and can make your property more resilient.

butterfly Native plants help maintain healthy soil, cleaner water and support more resilient landscapes. These plants have evolved to survive in the local conditions and are more disease resistant, cold-hardy, drought-tolerant and are often naturally deer resistant. The hardiness of native plants means that they require less intervention to maintain; less fertilizer, less pesticides, less water, less maintenance and they protect against erosion. The reduction in necessary chemicals means less pollutants enter our waterways keeping our rivers and oceans cleaner. Moreover, native plants are actually better at filtering the stormwater that flows over the surface into our rivers and oceans and recharges our aquifers with cleaner water. Learn more...

native vs non-native The root structure of a native plant can be anywhere from three to five times deeper than their non-native cousins. Unlike the less robust root structure of turf or many non-natives, these deep roots not only out-compete weeds and invasives, but they actually filter the water as it moves through the soil removing pollutants before they enter groundwater sources. Because deeper roots help tie the vulnerable topsoil and subsoil together, a strong root structure is more effective in preventing erosion.

Local wildlife depends on native plants for food, shelter and places to raise their young. Without them and the beneficial insects that co-evolved with them, the ecosystem is out of balance. For example, research by the entomologist Doug Tallamy has shown that native oak trees support over 500 species of caterpillars whereas ginkgo, a commonly planted landscape tree from Asia, host only five species of caterpillars. He points out that “when it takes over 6,000 caterpillars to raise one brood of chickadees, that is a significant difference.”

hummingbird Many developed areas remove the native groundcover, shrubs and trees and replace them with non-native species and turf which significantly undermines the health and balance of our ecosystem. Exotic plants and non-natives may offer a nectar source, but in many cases their leaves, fruits, pollen and nectar do not provide adequate nutrition, cover or breeding grounds necessary for local wildlife to thrive. Gardens that mostly feature non-native species of plants are often of little benefit to wildlife. The lack of proper habitat and food sources for native birds and insects is one factor in the decline of many of these species in the United States.

    For more information:
  1. 1 Audubon Society,
  3. Meet the Squad of Mosquito-Eating Species (pdf)

Ground Cover

Transitioning from lawn to native ground cover is a low maintenance way to incorporate natives into your property. Ground cover saves time, money and attracts a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Because they don't have to be mowed, ground covers reduce landscape maintenance and are especially useful in problem areas such as on steep slopes, under low-branched trees and shrubs, where the roots of large trees protrude and in confined areas where mowing is difficult—Bunchberry Dogwood (Cornus canadensis) does well in part sun-shade and Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) spreads easily. Learn more...

ground cover Converting an unused part of your lawn to ground cover saves time, money and attracts a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Because they don't have to be mowed, ground covers reduce landscape maintenance and are especially useful in problem areas such as on steep slopes, under low-branched trees and shrubs, where the roots of large trees protrude and in confined areas where mowing is difficult.

    For more information please visit:

Ground Cover Plants
Wild ginger (Asarum canadense): This attractive, low-growing ground cover is also deer resistant. It keeps its glossy leaves throughout the season and has an attractive dark red flower in spring. Many beneficial insects pollinate this plant, and its roots have traditionally been used as a substitute for ginger.

Bunchberry Dogwood (Cornus canadensis): Good for shaded areas, this plant has tiny greenish flowers in late spring through summer which are replaced by a cluster of bright red berries in fall. Bunchberry attracts butterflies and is deer resistant.


Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems that many animals rely on for food and shelter. In fact, birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. Most pollinators feed on specific plant species — hummingbirds sip nectar from long, tubular honeysuckle flowers, while green sweat bees prefer more open-faced sunflowers. Non-native plants may not provide pollinators with enough nectar or pollen or may be inedible to butterfly or moth caterpillars. Learn more...

native vs non-native Pollinators provide food for birds and insects as well as overwintering habitats. Pollinator gardens can be incorporated in existing beds or help to replace an area of lawn. Native pollinators for our area include Joe pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Hoary mountain mint (Pycnanthemum incanum), and Blazing star (Liatris spicata).

    For more information:
  3. Plants for Pollinators Brochure (pdf)
  4. Butterfly Nectar Plants NJ (pdf)
  5. Native Butterfly Plants NJNPS (pdf)
  6. Pollinator Meadows from Seed (pdf)


native vs non-native Landscaping choices have meaningful effects on the populations of birds and the insects they need to survive Perennial flowering plants can be the show stoppers in a native gardens. These flowers are also wonderful for attracting pollinators such as butterflies, including monarch butterflies which require Orange Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) to survive. Hummingbirds especially love Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) or Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Learn more...

Native plants are uniquely adapted to a specific region’s climate, soil type, and growing conditions. We are lucky in Rumson to have many beautiful native plants that are easy to maintain, provide year-round interest and habitat in the garden and can make our property more resilient. Here are a few of the many compelling reasons to include native plants in your landscape. Below are a few native plants to consider.

Flowering Perennials:
Orange Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa): The caterpillars of Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed as their only source of food and the flowers are essential to native bees. These are perennial plants (meaning they will come back year after year) and can be purchased as plants or grown from seed. Blooms May-September.

Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) or Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis): Ruby-throated hummingbirds love both of these elegant bright red flowers!  Bee balm and cardinal flower are both hardy plants with showy perennial flower that will bloom May-October and can be purchased as a plant or grown from seed.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): These beautiful flowers attract pollinators all summer long, and in the fall, you may see goldfinches feasting on the seeds.  Coneflowers are a perennial plant that will bloom from April to September, and can be purchased as a plant or grown from seed.

There are many ways to include these and other native plants into your property. They can be incorporated into existing garden beds or used to convert turf to a pollinator garden. If you are out of space some plants can even be grown in containers on a patio or porch. You have the power as an individual gardener to help build our local ecosystems!

    For more information:
  2. Monmouth County Native Perennials (pdf)
  3. Butterfly Nectar Plants NJ (pdf)

Ornamental Grasses

native vs non-native Native ornamental grasses are a natural replacement for invasive species. Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) is a tall, attractive, drought-tolerant native grass with colorful foliage and enormous benefits for wildlife. Perrenial Grasses are particularly good at preventing soil erosion along a riverbank or in troublesome spots in your yard. Learn more...

native vs non-native Native grasses are easy to care for and these grasses prefer dry, sandy, poor soil and are drought tolerant. Native grasses provide food and shelter for insects and wildlife and are deer resistant. Leave grasses up all winter for added interest and cut back in the early spring.

Native grasses are an ideal choice for a sloped area that is prone to erosion. As can bee seen in this illustration, like all natives plants, the root structure of native grasses reaches much much deeper than typical turf grass.. This not only allows plant to survive in more adverse conditions and improves soil quality, but it serves to bind the fragile top layer and sublayers of soil together, preventing erosion.

    For more information:
  2. Monmouth County Native Grasses (pdf)


native vs non-native Shrubs not only add structure to a garden but can provide fantastic year-round interest with flowers and leaf color. A great example of this is American Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana), one of the first flowers to appear in late winter/early spring and showing colorful leaves again in the fall. Shrubs can also be a source of fruit; Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) has delicious fruit as does Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia). For native evergreen shrubs, consider Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra) or Mountain Laurel. Learn more...

    For more information:
  1. Monmouth County Native Shrubs (pdf)
  2. Monmouth County Native Vines (pdf)


native vs non-native Native trees are a wonderful and long-lasting addition to any landscape. Trees such as the Red Oak (Quercus rubra) are a keystone species and support numerous birds, insects and mammals. The American Holly (Ilex opaca) can work well as a green fence between properties or along a busy road. If you are looking for flowering trees, Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) has lovely pink flowers in the spring and Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) is always a classic choice. Learn more...

Native Trees
    For more information:
  1. Monmouth County Native Trees (pdf)

Native Plants for Specific Growing Conditions

Native plants can solve many issues including shady areas and slopes. There are many that are deer resistant. And natives can be used as foundation plantings and as a living fence. Learn more...

There is no need to sacrifice color and interest in a shaded area in your garden. Some native plants that work well in shaded areas include Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucllaria), Trout lilly (Erythronium americanum), Asters and Goldenrod.

    For more information please visit:

You can take advantage of a sunny spot to feature many colorful native plants such as Redstem Dogwood (Cornus sericea) Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

The beauty of natives is that there are plants adapted to many conditions found in nature. If you have a particularly dry area there is no need to irrigate. The roots of native plants dig deeper into the ground than non-natives to access water. Good choices include Northern Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Grey Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) and Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).

As with dry conditions, there are also native plants that thrive in moist soil. Look for River Birch (Betula nigra), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia).

    For more information please visit:

A sloped area can be difficult to mow and prone to erosion, so why not turn it into a native meadow? Native perennials and grasses such as Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.) and Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) work wonderfully here.

Foundation Plantings:
Foundation plantings at the front of your home are a great place to consider native alternatives. Good options include Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) and Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea).

Living/green fence:
Green fences can divide properties, disguise pool equipment and act as a buffer from busy streets. Native plants to think about for this purpose are American Holly (Ilex opaca), Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

Native plants can even have a home in beautiful planters around your property. Consider flowering plants such as Coneflower (Echinacea spp.), Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Hairy beardstounge (Penstemon hirsutus) and Heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides).

Coastal Gardens:
Some residents may have gardens located close to the waterline, which have their own unique requirements. Native plants are perfect to handle these conditions! Beach plum (Prunus maritima), Prickly Pear cactus (Optunia), and grasses such as Sedge (Carex pendula) all are happy near the water.

    For more information please visit:

Deer Resistant:
Oh deer! Our resident white-tailed deer are abundant and love to munch their way through our gardens. Fortunately there are a number of native plants that are deer resistant including Anise Hyssop (Agastache), Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica) and Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum).

    For more information:
  1. Deer Resistant Native Plants (pdf)
  2. Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance (Rutgers NJAES) (pdf)

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