There are many fantastic natives that we see all the time in meadows and woods. Sometimes they are too big or difficult to grow in our garden and that is where cultivars come in. These are plants that have been bred from existing natives that show the traits we want in a plant. A more compact build, larger flower, and a myriad of other qualities.
I have chosen three natives that I love and the cultivars that I use. These are not the most common plants, but you can find them at good local nurseries.
Ironweed or Vernonia gigantea is a great late summer plant that I love. You can order seeds for it (and I am), but if its height of 5 to 8 feet is a bit too much you can purchase Iron Butterfly which has a more delicate foliage and compact height. Enjoy the deep purple flower on strong stately stalks.
Indian Pink is a fantastic native that only reaches 2’ tall and wide. The native plant lacks a bit of flower power so I am using the cultivar Ragin Cajun in my garden. The other popular option is Little Redhead which has flowers that are more red then the Cajun’s orange/red color. This perennial will tolerate wet soil and is a great solution for an area that is not full sun or shade but somewhere in the middle. It blooms in late spring to midsummer.
Culvers Root or Veronicastrum virginicum is a big and beautiful perennial that reaches up to 6’ tall with white flowers. It prefers full sun and does well in moist areas. The cultivar Lavender Towers is still large at 5’ tall and has lovely light purple flowers. They both get 2-3’ wide and add an architectural structure to a bigger bed in midsummer.