How Do I Start a Native Plant Garden?

What can I do to make my home garden friendly to pollinators, butterflies and birds?
Start small! Add a few native plants to your garden or plant a container with native plants.
Encourage your neighbors to do it too, so that pollinators start to notice your neighborhood.
Plant it, and they will come!

What is different about gardening with native plants?
Native plants have evolved to thrive in local environments.
Once established in the right location, they require no fertilizers and less water.

What should I plant?
Get started with a few native plants that are pollinator-friendly, easy-to-grow, and easy-to-find. Try these:

  • Milkweed (Asclepias) – host plant for monarch butterflies!
  • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Aster (Symphyotrichium oblongifolium)
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Coral Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera)
  • Rose Verbena (Glandularia canadensis)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)

Don’t forget about trees and shrubs!
Native oak, hickory, maple & redbud trees
and buckeye & beautyberry shrubs are great choices.

 What else should I do?

  • Avoid pesticides. They can weaken or kill pollinators.
  • Provide a water source. Birds and butterflies need a drink!
  • Leave the leaves. Many pollinators over-winter in leaf litter. Decaying leaves add nutrients to your soil. Leaves are natural (and free!) mulch.

Where can I learn more?
Here are some helpful downloadable documents and brochures to help you start your own native plant garden:

Wild for Monarchs!
Information about how to plant a native butterfly garden or Monarch Waystation.



Create Your Own Monarch Waystation
Including a planting plan and plant list suited for the Tennessee Valley.



Best Practices for Pollinator Gardens
Tips for how to attract pollinators to your garden.



The Dark Side of a Green, Weed-Free Lawn



Over-the-Counter Garden Products That Are TOXIC to Pollinators