Tammy Sons at TN Nursery

Creating a Vibrant Summer Garden with Native Plants and Perennials

A vibrant summer garden filled with native plants and perennials not only enhances the beauty of your landscape but also contributes to a healthier ecosystem” states Tammy Sons at TN Nursery. Native plants are well-adapted to local conditions, making them easier to care for and more resilient against pests and diseases. Combining these with perennials, which come back year after year, ensures a lush and colorful garden throughout the warm season. Here’s how you can create a stunning summer garden with these wonderful plants.

Understanding Native Plants and Perennials

Native plants are species that have evolved naturally in a particular region over thousands of years. They have developed unique adaptations to local climate, soil, and wildlife, making them an integral part of the local ecosystem. Using native plants in your garden supports local wildlife, including pollinators like bees and butterflies, which are crucial for the health of our environment.

Perennials are plants that live for more than two years, coming back each growing season. They establish strong root systems, which help them survive varying weather conditions and reduce the need for frequent replanting. When selecting perennials, choose varieties that thrive in your climate and soil type to ensure a robust garden.

Planning Your Garden

Start by assessing your garden space. Observe the amount of sunlight different areas receive, the type of soil, and the moisture levels. This will help you select the right native plants and perennials for each spot.

Sun-Loving Plants: For sunny areas, consider native species like Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa). These plants not only tolerate full sun but also attract pollinators.

Shade-Tolerant Plants: In shaded areas, native ferns such as Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) and Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) thrive. Pair them with perennials like Hosta and Astilbe, which add texture and color.

Moisture Preferences: Some areas of your garden might be more moisture-retentive than others. Native plants like Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor) are excellent choices for wetter spots, while drought-tolerant plants like Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) work well in drier areas.

Planting and Care Tips

Soil Preparation: Enrich your soil with organic matter like compost to improve fertility and drainage. This will provide a good foundation for your plants to establish themselves.

Planting: Plant in the spring or fall when temperatures are cooler. This gives plants time to establish roots before the heat of summer. When planting, ensure each plant has enough space to grow to its mature size without overcrowding.

Watering: While native plants and perennials are generally low-maintenance, they still require regular watering, especially during their first growing season. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth.

Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around your plants to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Organic mulches like shredded bark or compost are ideal as they also improve soil health as they decompose.

Fertilizing: Native plants typically need less fertilizer than non-native species. Too much fertilizer can lead to excessive growth and reduced stress tolerance. Use a slow-release, balanced fertilizer sparingly, if at all.

Designing for Impact

Color Schemes: Group plants with similar colors together for a cohesive look or mix contrasting colors for a vibrant display. For instance, combine the purple of Coneflowers with the orange of Butterfly Weed for a striking effect.

Height and Texture: Vary the height and texture of plants to create visual interest. Tall grasses like Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) can serve as a backdrop for shorter flowering plants, while the feathery fronds of ferns provide a soft contrast to broad-leaf perennials.

Seasonal Interest: Choose plants that bloom at different times to ensure continuous color throughout the season. Early bloomers like Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) can be followed by mid-summer stars like Bee Balm (Monarda) and late bloomers like Asters (Symphyotrichum).


Creating a vibrant summer garden with native plants and perennials is a rewarding endeavor that brings beauty and ecological benefits to your landscape. By selecting the right plants for your garden’s conditions and providing proper care, you can enjoy a lush, colorful garden that supports local wildlife and requires less maintenance over time. Embrace the natural beauty of native plants and the enduring charm of perennials for a garden that thrives all summer long.


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