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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Want Perennials? Try Native Plants

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

For low-maintenance perennials, go native! Butterfly weed, swamp milkweed, and Joe Pye weed thrive in the Mid-Atlantic, and draw butterflies and pollinators.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

By Julie Martens Forney

If you want some low-maintenance perennials for your Mid-Atlantic landscape, check out native plants such as butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Its bright-orange blooms fill summer with bold color mobbed with pollinators, including honeybees and butterflies.

Like many native plants, butterfly weed isn’t bothered by deer or rabbits, and it doesn’t require any special care to thrive. It’s a true low-maintenance perennial. This beauty is native to the Mid-Atlantic and grows 12–30 inches tall.

Growing Tip: Butterfly weed is a slow riser in spring. Mark its location with a permanent stake so you don’t accidentally disturb it.

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

This native plant is a cousin to butterfly weed. Pink flower buds open to reveal pink blooms.

Swamp milkweed seedpods

While deer leave swamp milkweed alone, pollinators keep blooms buzzing. This native plant hails from the Mid-Atlantic and grows 48–60 inches tall, but doesn’t need staking.

Growing Tip: Swamp milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars. Plant a few clumps to encourage monarchs to reproduce.

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum or Eupatorium purpureum)

Tuck this native plant into the back of the border, where its towering stems can soar. Joe Pye weed grows 60–84 inches tall, with strong stems that don’t need staking.

Fuzzy, pink flowers open in midsummer and linger into early fall. Blooms beckon pollinators big-time. Use Joe Pye weed in a butterfly or rain garden. It prefers humus-rich soil on the moist side. Deer leave this Mid-Atlantic native plant alone.

Joe Pye weed pruning

Growing Tip: To reduce the height, cut back stems by one third or more by July 1. Stems sprout numerous shoots, each flowering. This height-reduction technique yields more flowers that open nearer to August.

Try adding native plants to your garden. You’re rewarded with low-maintenance beauty, and pollinators aplenty.