19 Native Plants With Beautiful Flowers

Native plants shower landscapes each year with their gorgeous, seasonal blooms. No matter what zone you live in, there are flowering natives nearby. Native plant enthusiast Jerad Bryant takes you across the country to discover 19 of the prettiest flowering plants native to the United States.

native beautiful flowers. Close-up of a flowering columbine plant (Aquilegia) on a blurred green background. The plant has slender, erect stems rising from basal clumps of delicate, fern-like leaves. Slender stems bear clusters of unique spurred flowers, each featuring five distinctive red petals. The intricate blooms, resembling elaborate bonnets or lanterns, hang from the stems.


Before hybrid tea roses and climbing clematises of every color, there were native plants. Natives thrive with little intervention, and their toughness supersedes most hybrid varieties. Before the days of hybrid breeding programs and cross-pollination experiments, these plants bloomed naturally in all colors, shapes, and sizes.

Each North American area has native plants that thrive within the region’s conditions. Because North America is so vast, we have plants like cacti, giant Douglas fir, and swamp roses on the same continent. This also means plenty of native flowers exist for you to choose from for the backyard. 

These naturally growing flowers also provide beneficial nutrients and resources for local ecosystems while impressing us gardeners. Other non-native plants may be pretty, but they often lack the ample rewards natives have for pollinators, birds, and mammals. When you plant these special species in your yard, you invite wildlife back where it belongs.

These 19 plants originate from different ecosystems across the continent. Furthermore, some have multiple species native to different areas of the United States. This means there are plenty of options for your yard, regardless of its conditions. Find one that grows naturally near you, and you’ll have plentiful flowers each year with little time or effort!

Common Currant 

Close-up of a flowering Ribes sanguineum plant, commonly known as the flowering currant, against a blurred green background. The deciduous shrub features lobed, palmate leaves that emerge in shades of green. The plant produces clusters of small, bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink.
A native delight, the common currant charms with vibrant blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Ribes sanguineum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 10-12 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-8

Native to the Pacific Northwest and California, this deciduous shrub surprises onlookers every spring when it blooms bright red, pink, and white blooms. These contrast beautifully with green maple-shaped leaves on an attractive arching shrub shape.

Common currant grows quite large over time and needs its own space in the garden. Plant it as a specimen, or create a loose hedge with multiple shrubs. 

This native shrub is a beacon for hummingbirds and pollinators, especially as it grows old and tall. Plant transplants from a nursery or grow it from seed in early spring. 

Bear Grass

Close-up of a flowering plant, Xerophyllum tenax, also known as beargrass, in a garden against a framed background of green foliage. The plant presents a striking appearance with its tufted clumps of long, slender leaves resembling coarse grass blades, forming dense rosettes. Tall, wiry stems rise from the foliage, bearing clusters of small, creamy white flowers.
An elegant native, bear grass adds woodland allure to gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Xerophyllum tenax
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-9

A stunning woodland species, bear grass is a native plant that resembles grasses but is actually a member of the lily family. It sprouts bulbous heads of white flowers on multiple stalks in early summer. These creamy flowers attract native bees and pollinators with nectar and pollen.

This perennial has a wide range in the western U.S., and it appreciates dappled shade. Plants perform well in open forest or meadow-type landscapes where they receive a fair amount of sun, and where the soil is well-draining.

Grow bear grass from collected or purchased seeds or buy plants from reputable native plant nurseries. Seed sprouts in spring after a few weeks of light and moisture. 


Close-up of flowering Aquilegia plants against a blurred background in a sunny garden. It produces unique spurred flowers in a purple color, dangling gracefully from slender stems.
Spring’s dual-toned marvel, columbine adds effortless charm to gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Aquilegia spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

With spurred flowers and dual color combos, columbine delights gardeners each spring. They are low-fuss plants and come in ranges of purple, red, yellow, orange, and white. Lacy, parsley-like foliage grows below the flowers, making the plant a two-part stunner. 

This cute perennial’s scientific name is Aquilegia, and there’s a wealth of species native to the U.S. Eastern Gardeners are apt to try Aquilegia canadensis. In the West, try Aquilegia formosa or Aquilegia desertorum.

Columbine species like the ones mentioned above easily grow from seeds from late fall through mid-spring, after a period of vernalization. Plant them in dappled shade with well-drained soil, and your seeds should sprout. Let mature plants keep their seeds, and they’ll spread throughout your garden year after year.

Oakleaf Hydrangea

View of a flowering Hydrangea quercifolia bush in a sunny garden. Hydrangea quercifolia, the oakleaf hydrangea, enchants with its large, lobed leaves resembling those of oak trees, providing a rich green backdrop. It bears conical clusters of white flowers.
With oak-like leaves and vibrant flowers, this native shrub enchants.
botanical-name botanical name Hydrangea quercifolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4-8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

This deciduous shrub’s name refers to the strappy oak-shaped leaves that it grows each year. Atop the divided leaves are large cones of bright white flowers. Unlike the sterile hybrid hydrangeas, this southeastern U.S. native offers pollen and nectar that birds and pollinators love.

Multiple cultivars with unique flowers are now available for home gardeners. For a dwarf plant, try ‘Pee Wee’ or ‘Sike’s Dwarf.’ For even larger flower clusters, try ‘Snow Queen’ or ‘Vaughn’s Lillie.’

Plant oakleaf hydrangea species seeds in 16-cell seed starting trays. They germinate in two weeks. Transplant germinated seedlings to larger pots when they have a few leaves. Mature plants appreciate shade and fertile soil.

Oregon Grape 

Close-up of a flowering Berberis aquifolium bush with leaves covered with raindrops, in the garden. Berberis aquifolium, or Oregon grape, showcases glossy, holly-like leaves in deep green, forming dense shrubs. It produces clusters of bright yellow flowers.
Oregon’s harbinger of spring, this native shrub dazzles shade gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Berberis aquifolium
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

As the name suggests, this native shrub hails from Oregon and Pacific Northwest states. In spring, it blooms earlier than most other shrubs, and it helps pollinators wake up from their winter slumber. Oregon grape’s yellow blooms shine in shady landscapes. 

The tall shrub form of this plant goes by the scientific name Berberis aquifolium. For a ground cover, try Berberis repens, “creeping mahonia.” Another beauty Berberis nervosa “longleaf mahonia” shines in dry shade. Select any of these for that tough, shady spot in your garden. 

Plant seeds in fall so they experience at least 90 days of cold stratification. In spring, baby seedlings emerge! Thin seedlings so that each one has space to grow. 


Close-up of a flowering Lewisia cotyledon 'Rainbow Series' plant against a blurred green background. It boasts vibrant, daisy-like flowers in a delicate apricot-pink hue.
A high-altitude gem, this succulent blooms brightly in rocky terrain.
botanical-name botanical name Lewisia cotyledon
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

An alpine plant of the West, this succulent perennial grows thick green leaves and clusters of bright pink flowers. Find lewisia growing in rocky mountainous terrain from Washington through to Northern California. 

Breeders mix pollen between lewisia species to create the hundreds of varieties that exist today. Lewisia cotyledon is the easiest to grow, and it too has many varieties. Some stellar standouts are ‘Dark Cloud,’ ‘Sunset Strain,’ and ‘Little Plum.’

Growing a specific cultivar requires transplanting a nursery-grown plant, as lewisia seeds sprout new varieties with unique characteristics. Like Oregon grape seeds, lewisia seeds need cold stratification to germinate. Plant them in fall and wait up to a year for germination.

Black-Eyed Susan

Close-up of a flowering Rudbeckia hirta plant against a blurred green background. Rudbeckia hirta, or black-eyed Susan, features coarse, hairy leaves forming clumps of foliage. It bears iconic daisy-like flowers with golden-yellow petals and dark brown centers.
Beloved by gardeners, black-eyed Susans grace landscapes with ease.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia hirta
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Favored by many a gardener, black-eyed Susans offer proliferous blooms for little in return. Known scientifically as Rudbeckia hirta, it is a gorgeous perennial with small sunflower-like blooms and veined, hairy green leaves. Although native to the eastern U.S., it naturalizes itself from Georgia through to Washington.

The species type black-eyed Susan thrives in cultivation and needs little water. Plant them in Full sun with regular water while they establish themselves. They are perennial except in the coldest zones. Treat them like annuals in U.S.D.A. garden zones four and below. 

Plant seeds in fall, or stratify them in your fridge for a month. Then, plant them in spring. These seeds also require cold stratification. Mature plants spread through seed and from their crown and slowly spread over prairie-type landscapes.

Nodding Onion

Close-up of a flowering Allium cernuum, or nodding onion, plant in a sunny garden against a blurred background. It produces delicate, bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink, hanging gracefully from arching stems.
A culinary delight and garden gem, this native flourishes effortlessly.
botanical-name botanical name Allium cernuum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 18 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Edible and gorgeous, this flowering native offers many beneficial additions to areas across the country. Thin onion-like leaves grow from bulbs. In spring, these bulbs sprout umbels of whitish-pink flowers that dangle in the wind. 

Nodding onion is a species of onion known as Allium cernuum. It appreciates a meadow-type ecosystem with lots of sunlight, good drainage, and regular water during the growing season. Plant them on a border where they’ll shine with other perennials and bulbs.

Plants grow from seeds or bulbs. Plant either in winter before your last frost so they experience cold stratification. In spring, the foliage emerges, and the plants flower after a year or two in the ground. 


Close-up of a flowering Asarum plant in a mulched garden. Asarum presents heart-shaped leaves with a glossy surface, creating a lush ground cover. Hidden beneath the foliage, it bears a curious, urn-shaped flower with maroon petals.
A tropical treasure, native gingers bring beauty to shady spots.
botanical-name botanical name Asarum spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6-10 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Ginger is a tropical favorite that grows wild across the U.S.! All species grow luscious heart-shaped leaves and subtle flowers. Their roots smell like cooking ginger but are not safe to eat. The brown-patterned flowers make lovely hidden gems in shady areas. 

Gardeners on the East Coast have the best luck growing Asarum canadense. In Appalachia and other high-elevation areas, try Asarum shuttleworthii. Pacific Northwest growers like myself love growing Asarum caudatum for its performance in dry shade. 

Native ginger seeds are a bit tricky. Sow them in summer and keep them moist. After a winter and spring, they should germinate the next year. Your patience will be rewarded with slow-spreading ginger plants.

Witch Hazel

Close-up of a flowering Hamamelis bush in a sunny garden against a blurred background. It produces clusters of fragrant, spidery flowers in shades of yellow.
Early bloomers with fragrant flowers, witch hazels enchant gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Hamamelis spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 30 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Lush foliage follows spectacular aromatic flowers on witch hazel shrubs. In early spring, they bloom before many other plants, around the same time as hellebores and crocus. In fall, their foliage turns rich shades of orange, red, and yellow.

Two commonly grown species originate from the eastern and southern United States. They are Hamamelis vernalis and Hamamelis virginiana. The latter is the source of witch hazel beauty products, and it grows small yellow blossoms in fall rather than spring. 

Grow witch hazel from seeds by scattering them on soil in summer. To germinate successfully, they need five months of warm weather and three months of cold. Keep them well-watered, and by the spring, most of your seeds should sprout.


Close-up of a blooming Iris in a garden against a blurred green background. Iris features sword-like leaves forming clumps of foliage. It showcases three upright petals called "standards" and three downward-facing petals known as "falls," forming a stunning symmetrical pattern. The petals are blue and purple.
With vibrant blooms and diverse forms, irises adorn gardens gracefully.
botanical-name botanical name Iris spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Irises are immensely diverse, and a wide range of species are native to the U.S. and the Americas. All grow long green leaves and intricate flowers of varying shades. Native species offer more beneficial nectar and pollen for local wildlife than non-native ones. 

Iris flowers make excellent cut flowers, and they all differ slightly in form and color. Blue flag, western blue flag, and southern blue flag are all native to the regions in their names. Oregon iris and Douglas iris thrive throughout the Pacific Northwest. All have flowers that vary in blues, purples, and whites.

Grow irises from seeds, rhizomes, or bulbs. Plant any of the three in fall and keep the soil moist but not soggy. After a winter period, they’ll sprout enthusiastically in spring. 

Indian Plum

Close-up of a blooming Oemleria cerasiformis in a garden. Oemleria cerasiformis, commonly known as Indian plum, presents an understated yet charming appearance with its slender, arching branches adorned with small, oval-shaped leaves. It produces clusters of tiny, white flowers.
A springtime delight, Indian plum charms with delicate blossoms.
botanical-name botanical name Oemleria cerasiformis
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 20 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-10

This PNW garden essential is a suckering shrub that grows delicate white blossoms in the early spring. Plant a male and a female plant in the garden and the female will grow fruit each fall. Both the blossoms and the fruit are highly ornamental, and they attract local wildlife.

Indian plum appreciates dappled shade and moist soil, although it is drought tolerant during the summer. In favorable conditions, female plants spread seeds and form colonies of multiple plants. 

Plant Indian plum seeds in fall, and after a winter cold-stratification period, they’ll sprout in spring. 


Close-up of a flowering Asclepias plant against a blurred background. Asclepias, or milkweed, showcases lance-shaped leaves and clusters of intricate, star-shaped flowers in a delicate pink hue.
Invite fluttering friends with vibrant, star-shaped blooms in your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Asclepias spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Butterflies’ favorite food, milkweeds are excellent native plants throughout the country. They sprout star-shaped flowers in clusters in colors of pink, orange, and red. Grow milkweed, and both you and the butterflies around you will be happy!

In the western U.S., showy and common milkweeds grow profusely throughout gardens and natural areas. Both flowers have pink blossoms in the summer. In the eastern U.S., try swamp milkweed or butterfly weed

Be warned, native milkweeds like to spread in conducive conditions! Plant one today, and they’ll reward you each year with showy blooms. Scatter milkweed seeds in the fall, and they’ll germinate in the spring after successful cold-stratification. 


Close-up of a flowering Opuntia maxima plant against a blurred background of a sunny garden. Opuntia maxima, the prickly pear cactus, displays flat, paddle-shaped stems adorned with sharp spines and clusters of vibrant yellow flowers.
Witness the rare beauty of opuntia cactus flowers blooming.
botanical-name botanical name Opuntia spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 15 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-11

Have you ever seen a cactus flower? They are rare sights but rewarding for viewers with huge, showy blooms. Opuntia cacti are no different. Their blooms are many-petaled and purple, red, orange, yellow, or white. 

Native to the southern U.S., opuntias are drought-tolerant desert plants that appreciate well-drained soil, little water, and full sun. The most widespread species is the prickly pear, known scientifically as Opuntia ficus-indica. Both the foliage pads and fruit are edible—just be careful cutting off the spikes! 

All opuntia cacti grow from seed or cuttings. Seeds germinate with heat and light. Start them from spring through fall in pots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and the seeds should sprout in a week or two. 

Beard Tongue

Close-up of flowering Penstemon plants in a garden. Penstemon features lance-shaped leaves and tall spikes of tubular flowers in shades of purple.
Experience the diverse beauty of native beard tongues in gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Penstemon spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Herbaceous and woody perennials, the native beard tongues thrive in a range of habitats. Their bell-shaped flowers adorn the tops of the stems, and they make a striking display in prairie and meadow gardens. Native beard tongues and cultivated species range in flower color from pink-red to purple to white. Some rare ones are yellow!

Dry areas of the Southwest should try desert beard tongue, a shrubby species with pinkish-purple flowers. Midwest gardeners have shell-leaf penstemon and prairie penstemon to choose from. Penstemon richardsonii grows native to the Pacific Northwest, but it also grows well in other areas.

Grow beard tongues from seed in the spring. Start them indoors in pots or outdoors in a sunny locale. Keep seeds and young plants well irrigated while they sprout and establish themselves. After establishment, they are drought-tolerant. 

Monkey Flower

Close-up of flowering Mimulus plants in a sunny garden. Mimulus, or monkeyflower, showcases glossy, green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of yellow with contrasting markings or spots.
Brighten shady spots with the charming blooms of monkey flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Mimulus spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-11

A personal favorite of mine, monkey flower plants sprout thin yellow flowers that glow in the shade. They love wet, sometimes shady areas and appreciate fertile soil. If you plant them in a spot like this, they’ll spread through runners and seed each year to form colonies of yellow and green.

This flower gets its name because it looks like a monkey’s face when it’s open. The scarlet monkey flower adapts to many different conditions, so long as it gets consistent moisture. The yellow monkey flower is somewhat enthusiastic in the garden and covers wet areas with ease.

Grow monkey flowers from seed for incredible genetic variation! Different plants grow flowers of slightly different colors. Sow seeds in the spring in cold zones and during the fall in warmer locations. Seeds sprout in a few days and slowly form little rosettes. 

Perennial Hibiscus

Close-up of Hibiscus moscheutos "Cherry Cheesecake" flowering plants in a sunny garden. The plant boasts large, lobed leaves and oversized, showy flowers with ruffled petals in shades of pink, red, and white.
Transform your garden with the spectacular blooms of swamp mallow!
botanical-name botanical name Hibiscus moscheutos
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Although most hibiscuses are native to Hawaii, one is native to the eastern U.S.! Swamp mallow, known as Hibiscus moscheutos, is a perennial hibiscus that flourishes with full sun, fertile soil, and regular water. It dies to the ground with frost and emerges each spring to flower.

Blooms on mature plants can reach one foot across! Give this shrub some room as it grows to mature heights of eight feet and as wide as three feet. Various cultivars now exist at nurseries, and flowers vary in colors of red, pink, and white.

Grow this species from seed to find new flower variations. Sow seeds in 5” pots indoors in the winter, and transplant mature seedlings outdoors after the last frost in your area. When treated this way, they should flower their first year.


Close-up of a flowering Rhododendron plant in a sunny garden. Rhododendron presents glossy, dark green leaves and clusters of large, trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers are bright orange with wavy petals.
Enhance your garden with the diverse beauty of azaleas.
botanical-name botanical name Rhododendron spp
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 6-10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

All azaleas fall under the genus Rhododendron, and they mimic the larger rhododendrons. Azalea species grow little clusters of flowers and typically have smaller leaves than rhododendrons. Azalea breeders crossed many different species, and some new ones now look like rhododendrons. Native azalea species are special for their hardiness and the beneficial nectar and pollen they offer the local ecosystem.

In the West, try western azalea. It is cold-hardy to -5°F (-21°C) and thrives in the shade. The flowers range from pink to white and are variable on the same plant. In the East, try pinkshell azalea. Native to North Carolina, this species is cold-hardy to -20°F (-29°C) and naturally grows in mountainous terrain. 

Grow azalea from seeds in the early spring in small flats. Give them dappled shade while they sprout, and keep them moist. Transplant them into pots or the garden when they start to crowd each other. 

Mountain Laurel

Close-up of a flowering Kalmia latifolia plant in a sunny garden. Kalmia latifolia, also known as mountain laurel, showcases leathery, lance-shaped leaves and clusters of intricate, cup-shaped flowers in shades of pink.
Add a touch of enchantment to your garden with mountain laurels!
botanical-name botanical name Kalmia latifolia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4-15 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Hard to grow but spectacularly showy, mountain laurel shrubs surprise gardeners with their patterned clusters of blooms. Each cluster consists of pink and white star-shaped flowers. Related to rhododendrons, this shrub grows green leaves on stems in the same manner. 

Mountain laurels grow naturally in eastern North America and appreciate moist, rich soil. They like dappled shade and cool conditions. Give them Partial shade conditions in hot areas of the U.S. and keep the soil cool during summer droughts. Incredibly cold-hardy, they are safe to at least 0°F (-18°C).

Mountain laurels mature slowly, and they don’t transplant well because of their sensitive roots. Surface sow seed in pots under grow lights in the winter. By spring, they’ll grow tall enough for transplanting into bigger pots for further growth outside. 

Final Thoughts

Say yes to native plants this growing season. No matter the garden zone, there are shrubs, perennials, and annuals that paint landscapes with their beautiful flowers. Experiment with a few and you’re sure to find a few new favorites!

When you grow native plants from seed, you add new plant members to the environment and help them proliferate throughout the country. You contribute to those species’ populations, and aid in their continued existence. Try growing some seeds today and let the plants do the rest!

beneficial weeds. Close-up of flowering Chickweed plants (Stellaria media) in a sunny garden. Chickweed is a delicate annual herb with small, oval-shaped leaves arranged in pairs along its succulent, branching stems. Its dainty white flowers, each containing five deeply notched petals.

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pollinator garden raised beds. Close-up of a white wooden raised bed with various flowering plants attracting pollinators to a sunny garden. The raised bed features red and yellow petunias, Verbascum 'Southern Charm', purple and white Sweet Alyssum, Echium pininana, pink and purple hydrangeas, Phlox, Salvia and more.

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