Home 9 Native Plant of the Month

High Plains Environmental Center

Monthly Native Plant Spotlight

Welcome to the Monthly Native Plant Spotlight! Each month we will feature a different native plant based on what’s in bloom and what’s valuable for wildlife.

Check out our ONLINE STORE to find out if we grow and sell it in our Native Plant Nursery!

JANUARY

Cornus sericea / Red Twig Dogwood

Family: Cornaceae (dogwood)

Characteristics: Also known as Red Osier Dogwood; upwards spreading shrub that is Native to much of North America’s swampy, riparian, or wetland habitat; create beautiful contrast with snow- great addition for those who want colors in their garden during the winter months.

Height: 6-9 ft.

Season of Bloom: May-July

Bloom Color: White, dense blossoms (drupes) followed by white berries.

Light Requirements: Full Sun – Partial Sun

Water Requirement: Medium – Wet

Eco-Relationships: Deer resistant, attracts pollinators, grows well in wet and clay soils

Life zone:  USDA Zones 3-8

Habitat: Wetlands, swamps, riparian zones, river edges, wetter climates.

FEBUARY

Clematis lingusticifolia/ Western Virgin’s Bower

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)

Characteristics: A woody perennial vine with small white flowers that bloom in clusters.Traditionally called Pepper Vine, and rumored to have been used by Native Americans to treat colds and sore throats.

Height: 12-36 feet

Season of bloom: Spring – Summer (April–August)

Bloom color: White/Cream

Light requirement: Full sun to shade

Water requirement: Medium to Less water

Soil requirement: Well-Draining soil

Eco-relationships: Flower heads attract a wide range of pollinators, especially birds; sub species can be poisonous; not deer resistant

Life Zone: USDA Zones 5-7

Habitat: Riparian Habitats; near running water and lake edges

MARCH

Erigeron speciosus/ Aspen Daisy
(Showy Fleabane)

Family: Asteraceae (sunflower)

Characteristics: Leafy stems with one thin, hairy, & purple petaled flower with a yellow center; grows in clumps or bunches called colonies that may need to be separated in a landscaping setting; highly adaptable to a range of sunlight & water availability.

Height: 1-3 feet

Season of bloom: Summer (June–October)

Bloom color: Very Light- Dark Purple

Light requirement: Full- almost Full Sun

Water requirement: Drought tolerant, but will tolerate watering.

Soil requirement: Dry to Moist soils; tolerant of varying soil conditions.

Eco-relationships: Flower heads attract and provide a landing platform for pollinators; attract a wide range of pollinators including true bugs, thrips, beetles, butterflies, moths, bees, and flies. Supports Conservation Biological Control (a plant that attracts predatory or parasitic insects that prey upon garden pests.)

Life zone: Zones 4-7; Foothills to subalpine

Habitat: Aspen groves, forest margins and openings at 6,000 to 11,000 feet

APRIL

Allium cernuum / Nodding Onion

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Characteristics: Herbaceous native umbel (umbrella) that flowers in a ball shape; edible, although not considered culinary; used medicinally by Native American tribes.

Height: 1-1.5 ft.

Season of Bloom: June-August (Summer)

Bloom Color: White – Light Pink – Bright Pink

Light Requirements: Full – Partial Sun

Water Requirement: Dry – Medium

Eco-Relationships: Deer & Drought resistant, attracts pollinators, especially bees & butterflies.

Life Zone: USDA Zones 4-8

Habitat: Open woods, meadows, glades, rocky soils.

MAY

Monarda fistulosa/ Bee Balm

Family: Lamiaceae

Characteristics: A fragrant, flowering perennial also called “Wild Bergamot”; supports a wide range of native insect pollinators; used medicinally (topically, teas) by Native American tribes.

Height: 2-4 feet

Season of bloom: Late June-September (Summer)

Bloom color: White-Light Pink-Bright Pink

Light requirement: Full to Partial Sun

Water requirement: Dry to Medium, good air circulation needed!

Soil requirement: Well-Draining soils

Eco-relationships: Flowers attract a wide range of native pollinators, especially bees & butterflies; Deer resistant.

Life Zone: USDA Zones 3-9

Habitat: Prairies, fields, rocky forests, dry climates.

JUNE

Penstemon strictus/ Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Family: Plantaginaceae (Plaintain)

Characteristics: Bright purple & indigo flower heads; blooms in Spring & Summer; prefers partial shade and dry, well-draining soils; Native to Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, & Arizona

Height: 1-3 feet

Season of bloom: Spring- Summer (May–July)

Bloom color: Royal Blue-Indigo-Purple

Light requirement: Full- Partial Sun

Water requirement: Low-Medium

Soil requirement: Dry, well-draining soils

Eco-relationships: Perennial that blooms Spring-Summer & attracts pollinators (specifically bumble bees & native bees), can tolerate wetter zones.

Life zone: USDA Zones 4-9

Habitat: Subalpine & Valleys; Conifer & Sagebrush forests.

JULY

Aquilegia chrysantha / Yellow Columbine

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)

Characteristics: A particularly showy species of native, perennial columbine; can rot in poorly draining soils & can suffer in extreme/excessive direct sunlight; Genus (Aquilegia) named because of the resemblance to the talons of an Eagle (Aquila in Latin).

Height: 2-3 ft.

Season of Bloom: May-August (Late Spring-Summer)

Bloom Color: Yellow

Light Requirements: Full – Partial Sun

Water Requirement: Dry – Medium

Eco-Relationships: Deer & Rabbit resistant, attracts pollinators, especially butterflies, moths, & hummingbirds.

Life Zone: USDA Zones 3-9

Habitat: Tolerates a wide range of soils; damp canyons & rocky areas in the SW, specifically in the Chihuahan & Sonoran Deserts.