Department of Environmental Sciences

Commonly Used Species

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Grey Headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) - Forb, Full/partial sun, Mesic-Dry Mesic, attracts pollinators and good for landscaping. Also known as Yellow Coneflower. 

Gray Headed ConeflowerHeaded Coneflower has large yellow petals hanging below the oval cones that turn gray and disintegrate through thewinter months. Although Gray-headed coneflowers struggle to compete with dense native grasses, in well drained soil it can quickly fill in a plot, especially when the plantings are disturbed.

 Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) - Forb, full/partial sun, Mesic to Wet, blooms July through September, attracts pollinators

Prairie Dock Prairie Dock has large green leaves with short hairs that keep cool air against the leaves. The large leaves also provide shade for the flower stem that grows taller than the leaves. The bloom stalk,  although leafless itself, produces bright yellow rayed flowers. 

 Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) - Forb, full/partial sun, Mesic to Wet, blooms July through September, attracts pollinators. Also known as Marsh Blazing Star 

Dense BlazingstarDense Blazing-star forms a wand of purple flower heads that thrive in wet soils including rich garden soil and rain gardens.


 Flat Top Aster (Doellingeria umbellata) - Forb, full/partial sun, Mesic to Wet, blooms July through September, aggressive in landscaping, rhizomatous.

Flatop AstersFlat Top Asters are an early bloomer, with white colored petals and yellow centers. As the plant matures, the colors dull to a tan to red shade. Flat Top Aster is a favorite of many insect pollinators while larger animals like turkey and deer enjoy the foliage.

 Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium) - Forb, Full Sun, Dry Mesic to Wet Mesic, Blooms July through September. Also known as Button Snakeroot, Yucca-leaf Eryngo, Corn Snakeroot, Water-eryngo, Rattlesnake Flag, and Rattlesnake Weed.

This small, clustered white domed flower is a favorite of insect pollinators, both bees and butterflies.

Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) - Forb, Full/Partial Sun, Dry Mesic - Wet Mesic, Blooms July-August. 

Nodding Onion

Nodding onion, is an aggressive low-growing plant that competes well with dense prairie grasses on moist soils. The bulb head is edible and can be used as an onion substitute, while the pink flowers bloom early in wet woodland areas where fewer plants flower.

Stiff Goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum) - Forb, full/Partial Sun, Dry to Wet, Blooms August to October.

A favored of pollinators, stiff goldenrods can grow in any soil regardless of the quality, and still provide food for insect pollinators and songbirds. The yellow colors last through fall and then turns to shades of orange and red.

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) - Forb, full/partial sun, Wet Mesic to Wet, Blooms July-September.

Cardinal FlowerThe bright red Cardinal flower is a favorite of Ruby-throated hummingbirds, the primary pollinator, which makes this a perfect plant for hummingbird gardens. Cardinal flower’s ability to grow in wet soils, makes it a favorite for rain gardens. The short blooming season occurs in the fall during hummingbird migration season.

Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) - Forb, Full/partial sun, Dry Mesic to Wet, Blooms June - September.

Virgina Mountain Mint

A favorite of insect pollinators makes the Virgina Mountain Mint a great flower for any garden.


 Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) - Forb, Full/Partial Sun, Dry to Wet Mesic, Blooms June-October

Black Eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan, a common wildflower is a great beginner plant for native gardens because they work as a cover crop and then get out competed as other species get established


Gray Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) - Forb, Full/Partial Sun, Dry to Dry Mesic, Blooms August to October.

Also known as Old Field Goldenrod, Grey Goldenrod is a good plant for beginning gardens in poor soil because it is capable of growing anywhere, but prefers well-drained soils.

Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) - Forb, Full/partial sun, Dry to Wet Mesic, Blooms May-July. 

Ohio Spiderwort

A favorite on sunny mornings, the Spiderworts’ purple blooms are fantastic to look at but not touch as a closed bloom can stain clothing. The pollen is collected by pollinators but there is no nectar for them to eat.



Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) - Grass, Full/Partial Sun, Dry to Mesic, Blooms July-October. 

Little BluestemLittle Bluestem can grow in any well-drained soil with full sun and self-sows, which makes it a good plant for landscape gardening. This grass, along with many other grasses, turns golden shades in the fall, and Little Bluestem can hold its gold colors well into the winter season



Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) - Grass, Full/Partial Sun, Dry to Wet Mesic, Blooms August-September.

Although a hard grass to control for landscape planting, Indian Grass is a great grass to grow for warm colors in the fall among prairie plantings.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) - Grass, Full/Partial Sun, Dry to Wet Mesic, Blooms July-August  

Switchgrass can grow almost anywhere with full but can become aggressive in cultivation.  

Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix) - Grass, Partial Sun-Partial Shade, Medium Dry to Wet, Blooms September-October.

Bottlebrush Grass

Bottlebrush Grass grows in dry, woody areas but grows in almost any soil condition in cultivation. These tall, narrow plants, clump together and provide late season color and interest.


Shrubby St John’s Wort (Hypericum prolificum) - Shrub, Full/Partial Sun, Mesic to Wet Mesic, Blooms in June-August.

A favorite of pollinators, bees, caterpillars and a dislike of deer and rabbits, Shrubby St John’s Wort is a plant that can grow almost anywhere and can be pruned to different shapes, making it a favorite in landscaped gardens.


Last Updated: 5/27/20