What is a native plant?
Native plants are ones that have evolved naturally where they are found rather than being introduced from different parts of the world.
Why should you grow native plants?
Native plants tend to be easier to maintain because they’ve specifically adapted to the UK climate. This means less intensive watering, fertilising, and pest control. They’re also the best plants for wildlife, providing food and shelter for loads of different creatures. Native flowers are a really important source of pollen to help keep our pollinators – like bees and butterflies – going.
Click here for some more detail on why native plants are so important for the environment.
You can create a really gorgeous outdoor space using native species. To get you started, here are our top ten recommendations for native plants to include in your UK garden:
1 – Stinking Hellebore – Helleborus foetidus
Stinking Hellebore is an evergreen plant with lovely foliage that lasts all year. In the late winter, it starts to bloom with clusters of green flowers that usually have purple edges. This hellebore isn’t too fussy and will grow well in full sun or partial shade. Its flowers have loads of nectar and pollen, which is great for bees, especially early in the year when there aren’t too many plants in bloom.
2 – Crabapple
There’s a wide range of native crabapple species, such as Malus ‘Golden Hortnet’ and Malus Evereste. Growing a native tree in your garden is a great way to provide some food and shelter for wildlife. Crabapple trees have the added benefit of lots of fruit that you can use in cooking and baking.
3 – Lily of the Valley – Pieris japonica
This is a classic woodland perennial with beautiful drooping flowers. Lily of the valley blooms are bell-shaped and smell lovely. These are shade-loving plants, so they’re great to fill darker spots in your garden. The white spring flowers give way to red summer berries – these are nice to look at but definitely not to eat!
4 – Barred Horsetail – Equisetum japonica
This UK native is a tall, evergreen perennial that looks a lot like bamboo. Barred Horsetail is bright green with dark joints, making for a nice contrast. This is a versatile plant that will grow well in the ground, in water, or in containers.
5 – Snake’s head fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris
This plant produces unique, bell-shaped flowers with striking scale-like patterns. It blooms in various shades of purple and sometimes white. This is a very hardy plant that can grow well under most conditions. When you look at the flowers of this plant, it’s no surprise that the Royal Horticultural Society awarded it an Award of Garden Merit.
6 – Silver birch – Betula pendula
Silver birch is a native tree well-known for its peeling white bark and drooping stems. Not only is this a great tree for wildlife, but it is also pollution-resistant and incredibly versatile. You can grow this in any soil type in sun or partial shade.
7 – Foxgloves
Foxgloves are some of the most recognisable native flowers with their tall spires of bell-shaped flowers. Different varieties give you different flower colours. There are also biennial and perennial varieties, so you can choose whether to commit to these florals or just have them around for a couple of years.
8 – Honeysuckle – Lonicera periclymenum
This plant comes in a few different varieties, each with unique and interesting flowers. They tend to have long flowering seasons, which is a massive benefit when the blooms smell as beautiful as honeysuckle. They grow well in most types of soil and light conditions (except for full shade), so are really versatile native plants.
9 – Ivy – Hedera helix
Ivy is a classic climbing plant with gorgeous, iconic foliage. It can either be dark green or variegated with white patterns. It’s really easy to grow and likes to be in a shady spot, perfect for filling in some darker corners of your garden. Ivy is excellent at providing shelter and nectar for wildlife and is also great at keeping buildings cooler in the summer.
10 – Elder – Sambucus nigra
Common elder is a bushy shrub or small tree that’s native to the UK. There are different varieties of this plant with different colours of foliage and flowers. For example, Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ has dark purple-black foliage and pink flowers, whereas Sambucus nigra ‘Madonna’ has variegated light green and yellow foliage with white flowers. This is another versatile native plant that does well in almost any type of soil and light.