Use Indigenous Arkansas Plants to Enhance Your Landscaping

For many homeowners, spring brings thoughts of landscaping.

Is this the year you’d like to rejuvenate your front or back lawn? Maybe find ways to reduce the maintenance time and work without sacrificing the beauty of a well-kept yard? Regardless of the look you want to achieve, you can’t go wrong with native plants. Arkansas offers an amazing range of foliage to help you create a more manageable and eco-friendly vista.

Why Indigenous (Native) Plants? 

The U.S. Forest Service provides many reasons that point to the benefits of indigenous plants: 

  • Thanks to their adaptation to local temperatures and soil conditions, they thrive in areas where they naturally occur
  • They are the natural providers of nectar, pollen, and seeds that feed native butterflies, insects, birds, and other creatures
  • They rarely, if ever, require fertilizers, and the use of pesticides is greatly reduced
  • Native plants help reduce air pollution by removing carbon from the air
  • Since native plants can be landscaped in ways that do not require mowing, carbon emissions caused by gasoline-powered lawn tools are lessened

In addition, natural landscaping can help stop erosion along waterways, lakes, and reservoirs.

Before you begin your natural landscaping journey, an informative resource to check out is the Wild Ones Handbook: Landscaping with Native Plants – 4th Edition, providing a great start to your natural landscaping journey. 

We highlight below a few popular native Arkansas plants to consider if you’d like to try your hand at natural landscaping. 

Black Willow Tree

The black willow tree not only provides shade for Arkansas homeowners during our warm spring and summer months, it is also an important environmental component, as it serves as one of the earliest sources of pollen for honeybees. Considered a medium-sized tree, It can grow as high as 35 to 100 feet, but its slender branches won’t let it dominant your yard. This is also a good tree to plant if you have a sloping area with problematic runoff water, as it can help to bind the soil. 

Carolina Allspice

Calycanthus (also called sweetshrub or Carolina Allspice) is most well-known for its strong, spicy fragrance that comes from its purple flowers. This large shrub does well in both full sunlight and partial shade. It can grow to a height of about eight feet. 

Ozark Mock Orange

The Ozark mock orange shrub is a deciduous plant with eye-catching four-petaled white flowers that derives its name from its similar appearance to orange blossoms. A notable feature of this variety is its cascades of large blossoms in gardens or natural areas. This shrub typically reaches about eight feet, but can grow as tall as 12 feet or more. Its best flowering occurs in full sunlight. 

Northern Maidenhair Fern 

The graceful northern maidenhair fern thrives in shade. It’s known for broad, circular fronds, its ability to shed raindrops, and leaflets that are somewhat shaped like tiny feet. A perennial, its most common habitats are in rich, deciduous woodlands. For landscaping, this slow-growing fern blends well in a woodland, rock, or naturalistic garden, and is suitable for singular or mass-planting. 

Early Buttercups

Early buttercups are among the first heralds of spring, usually beginning to bloom around mid-March, with a very fragrant scent. They often attract bees, butterflies, and birds, and they like full sun just as much as partial shade. Beautiful in garden beds, framing property lines, or strewn along fences, they prefer well-drained soil.

Purple Coneflowers

Colorful purple coneflowers are considered a garden classic for Arkansas residents. They grow well while fitting into any landscaping design. A perennial, its stout stems support showy petals (sometimes found in white) and a spiny cone-shaped center. This flower is drought-resistant and does well in direct sunlight. Known as a hardy plant, it also attracts butterflies and bees, and enjoys a blooming season that typically runs from May to July. 

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