Native Plants for Easy Gardening in Bridgeport, Conn.

New England Aster

Who has not had the experience of buying a beautiful plant from a nursery and having it fail in their yard despite pulling out all the stops to make it happy? The culprit in most of our high-maintenance plant relationships is that we are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole: planting non-native species in an environment they were never meant to be in.

Bridgeport is located in plant hardiness zone 7a, which happens to be hospitable to a number of beautiful natives that can take the hassle out of your gardening hustle. No matter what category of plant you crave, there is a native variety out there that can satisfy you. Read on to learn about a few plants that are undemanding and hardy in your area.

Native TreesRhus Hirta Staghorn Sumac Rhus Typhina

If you want a relatively small tree that offers seasonal interest year-round, then Staghorn Sumac may be just what the doctor ordered. It boasts tropical-looking leaves that turn a brilliant magenta in the autumn and fuzzy crimson berry clumps that persist all winter long. This small tree tops out at about twenty feet and will tolerate anything but wet conditions. Redbud is another eye-catching small tree that blooms profusely in the spring before it has leafed out, offering magnificent color and a pleasing, bonsai-like profile.

Native ShrubsPinxterbloom Azalea

While azaleas are notoriously needy, the Pinxterbloom Azalea (Rhododendron Periclymenoides) and Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron Viscosum) are two notable exceptions. Growing four to six feet high, Pinxterbloom will treat you to a showy display of pink, lavender or white blooms through the spring and doesn’t mind rocky, dry soil. On the flipside, the Swamp Azalea will tolerate heavy, wet soil and has fragrant, white blooms that attract hummingbirds.

Native PerennialsNew England Aster

The New England Aster is a tall flowering shrub with purple and gold daisy-like blooms that add instant cheer to garden beds in the fall. At three to five feet tall, this is a great choice for stacking behind shorter plants. For part-shade, or moist soil in sunny areas, the Cardinal flower is a favorite of hummingbirds who flock to its flaming-red blooms. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a fine perennial that grows two to three feet high with glossy leaves and cheerful summer blooms that truly will bring all the butterflies to your yard.

If you need a groundcover that offers year-round visual interest and can even handle highly acid soils and the salt-spray of the ocean, then you should consider planting some Bearberry in your garden. Small bell-shaped spring flowers give way to red berries in the fall, and the glossy evergreen leaves and stems blush a wine-red tint in winter.

Native VinesTrumpet Honeysuckle

For the garden with an unsightly fence or decorative arbor to cover, Trumpet Honeysuckle is a winner. Flowering in summer and fall, this beautiful vine is known as a hummingbird hangout. If you want a vine that doubles as a groundcover, then Virginia creeper is the vine for you. This is a fast-spreading vine that can cover a lot of ground if it doesn’t have anything to climb. The real rewards come in the fall when its show-stopping coral display is in full effect. Just be careful not to plant it too close to any shingled or painted surfaces, as its adhesive pads can cause damage.

Regardless of your garden goals or skill level, using native plants can make you feel like you were born with a green thumb. There are too many natives suitable to Bridgeport to list here, and one of them is sure to capture your interest.

Visit our Bridgeport lawn care page to get started with a plan for incorporating some native plants into your landscape.

Clarence Luna

Clarence Luna

Clarence Luna is a freelance writer and former teacher who enjoys gardening and do-it-yourself projects. His current goal: grow tomato plants in his garden as tall as his 6-foot 5-inch frame.