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Best Landscaping Plants for Pennsylvania in State College, PA

The best landscaping plants for Pennsylvania will transform your yard into a beautiful, eco-friendly haven. 

Since landscaping in PA should be both stunning and beneficial to the environment, we opt to use Pennsylvania native plants. These plants offer many benefits, making them the top choice for any landscaping project.

Native plants are adapted to Pennsylvania's unique climate and soil conditions, meaning they thrive with minimal fuss. They also provide essential support for local wildlife, offering food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators. 

Creating a lush, green retreat or a colorful garden with native plants ensures your landscaping efforts are sustainable and visually pleasing. Let's explore the wonderful world of Pennsylvania native plants and see how they can make your garden the envy of the neighborhood!

Key Takeaways

  • Pennsylvania native plants provide year-round beauty and support for local wildlife with minimal maintenance.

  • Use mass planting, rain gardens, and suitable plant choices to create a thriving and eco-friendly garden.

  • Expert guidance and responsible landscaping techniques can help transform your yard into a stunning and sustainable space.

Why Choose Pennsylvania Native Plants?

Two women looking for the best plants for their garden

Pennsylvania native plants offer numerous perks, making your garden beautiful and eco-friendly. Here are some of the top benefits of using native plants in your yard:

Low maintenance 

Native plants are adapted to Pennsylvania’s unique climate and soil types, requiring less water, fertilizers, and pesticides. With well-drained soil and minimal soil amendments, these plants thrive naturally. From full sun to partial shade, native species flourish with little fuss. 

Many native perennials are deer-resistant, adding another layer of low-maintenance care.

Support local wildlife 

Native plants provide essential food and habitat for local wildlife, including birds, native bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators. 

Pennsylvania native plants like wild blue phlox, cardinal flower, and Virginia bluebells offer fragrant flowers and bright colors that attract beneficial insects and local birds, enhancing your garden's beauty and supporting a healthy ecosystem.

Conserve water 

Accustomed to Pennsylvania’s rainfall patterns and soil conditions, native plants reduce the need for additional watering. This makes them perfect for drought-tolerant gardens and rain gardens. 

Evergreen shrubs, deciduous shrubs, and plants with dense foliage, like oakleaf hydrangea and mountain laurel, conserve water while maintaining vibrant green foliage.

Prevent invasive species 

Using native plants helps prevent the spread of non-native plants, which often support fewer species and can become invasive. 

Many non-native plants introduced since European settlers arrived can disrupt local ecosystems. Planting native species supports local wildlife and maintains ecological balance.

Native Plants for Different Light Conditions

Selecting the right native plants for your garden involves understanding the light conditions in your yard. Here are some excellent choices for full sun, partial shade, and full shade areas.

Full sun

For gardens that receive plenty of sunlight, these native plants will thrive and add vibrant color to your landscape.

  • Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata): This plant stands out with tall spikes of purple flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Ideal for sunny locations, it adds vibrant color and height to your garden.

  • Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): Known for its bright orange flowers, this drought-tolerant and deer-resistant plant thrives in full sun. It’s a favorite among many native plants for supporting beneficial pollinators.

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis): With striking bright red flowers, this plant loves wet soils and attracts hummingbirds. It’s perfect for adding a dramatic flair to your sunny spots.

Partial shade

In areas with a mix of sun and shade, these plants will flourish and bring a splash of color to your garden.

  • Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora): Featuring bright yellow flowers and aromatic leaves, this plant supports native bees. It’s great for adding a splash of color to partially shaded areas.

  • Eastern Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): This plant has elegant red and yellow flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees. It thrives in partial shade and enhances your garden with its delicate beauty.

  • Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica): Light blue flowers bloom in early spring, preferring moist soil. They add early-season charm to gardens with partial shade.

Full shade

For those shady spots in your yard, these native plants will thrive and add beauty to your garden.

  • Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata): This plant produces clusters of fragrant lavender-blue flowers, perfect for woodland settings. It thrives in moist woodlands and shaded areas, adding beauty and scent to your garden.

  • Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense): Known for its heart-shaped leaves, this plant forms a dense ground cover and thrives in well-drained soil. It’s ideal for adding lush greenery to shaded spots.

  • White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata): Delicate white flowers bloom in late summer, attracting pollinators. It’s perfect for fully shaded areas and adds a touch of elegance to your garden.

Native Trees and Shrubs for Pennsylvania

Adding native trees and shrubs to your garden can enhance its beauty and support the local ecosystem. Here are some excellent choices for Pennsylvania:

Deciduous shrubs

Deciduous shrubs are a great way to add seasonal interest to your garden. These native options will bring color and life to your yard throughout the year.

  • Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): This Pennsylvania native features long clusters of white flowers and attracts bees with its fragrant flowers. It thrives in sunny locations and light shade, making it a versatile addition to your garden. Summersweet is perfect for rain gardens and areas with wet soils.

  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata): Known for its bright red berries in winter, this shrub supports local wildlife. It tolerates wet soils and adds vibrant color to your garden during the colder months.

  • Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum): This shrub has white flowers in late spring and blue berries in the fall, attracting birds and other wildlife. It adapts well to various soil types, making it a reliable choice for diverse garden settings.

Evergreen shrubs

Evergreen shrubs provide year-round greenery and structure to your yard. These native evergreens are perfect for adding color and texture in every season.

  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia): This broadleaf evergreen boasts pink flowers and thrives in acidic soil. Its dark green foliage provides year-round interest, and it flourishes in moist woodlands and shady spots.

  • Inkberry (Ilex glabra): Featuring dark green foliage and purple berries, this shrub tolerates wet conditions and provides excellent ground cover. It’s perfect for mass planting and creating hedge borders.

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia): With its large white panicles and preference for moist soils, this shrub is ideal for areas with light shade. It provides year-round interest with its deep green leaves in the summer and beautiful fall color.

Small trees and large shrubs

Small trees and large shrubs can serve as focal points or provide privacy in your garden. Here are some native options that will thrive in Pennsylvania’s climate.

  • Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata): This versatile plant has dark green foliage and can be used as a hedge plant or in shrub borders. It thrives in well-drained soil and can tolerate acidic conditions, making it perfect for various garden settings.

  • Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): This native species is known for its long clusters of white flowers that bloom in mid-spring to early summer, attracting bees. It’s tolerant of both sun and shade and thrives in wet soils.

  • Inkberry (Ilex glabra): This shrub is ideal for creating evergreen borders with its dark green foliage and purple berries. It tolerates wet conditions and thrives in both sun and light shade.

Broadleaf evergreens

Broadleaf evergreens are excellent for adding lush green foliage to your garden throughout the year. These native broadleaf evergreens are both beautiful and resilient.

  • Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia): This broadleaf evergreen has pink flowers that add a pop of color in early summer. It thrives in acidic soil and moist woodlands, providing year-round interest.

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia): Known for its large, white panicles, this shrub prefers moist soils and offers year-round interest. Its green leaves turn vibrant colors in the fall, enhancing your garden's seasonal beauty.

Tips for Responsible Landscaping

A landscaper installing lawns

Creating a beautiful and sustainable garden requires thoughtful planning. Here are some tips for responsible landscaping to ensure your garden thrives and is eco-friendly.

Prepare your soil

Healthy soil is crucial. Improve drainage and nutrient content with soil amendments, especially in heavy clay areas. This helps plants like wild blue phlox grow strong and healthy.

Select the right plants

Pick plants based on your garden's light, soil, and moisture conditions. For sunny locations, choose native plants like cardinal flowers with bright red blooms. In wet soil areas, select moisture-loving native species.

Use mass planting

Group plants together for visual impact and to create natural habitats. Mass planting flowering shrubs and large shrubs like oakleaf hydrangeas create a cohesive look and support pollinators.

Incorporate rain gardens

Rain gardens manage stormwater and support moisture-loving plants. They capture and filter runoff, preventing erosion and improving water quality. Plants like inkberry thrive in these conditions and add evergreen foliage.

Let Landscape II Simplify Your Gardening

Unsure which plants are best for your garden’s specific conditions or how to follow responsible landscaping techniques effectively? 

Our team of experts at Landscape II specializes in native plants suited for Pennsylvania's unique climate, from evergreen trees with lush, dark green foliage to fragrant flowers that bloom in early summer. 

We can help you choose the right plants for full sun, acid soil, wet soil, and more, ensuring your garden thrives and supports local wildlife.

Don't let the challenges of creating a sustainable garden hold you back. Call Landscape II today and let us help you transform your yard into a stunning space. Our services include expert guidance, plant installation, and landscape design.


Native plants are a fantastic choice for your Pennsylvania garden, offering ecological benefits and easy maintenance. From fragrant flowers in early summer to evergreen foliage and bright white flowers in early spring, these plants provide year-round beauty and support local wildlife.

Start incorporating native plants into your landscaping projects to create a thriving, sustainable garden. Explore more about native plants and visit local nurseries to find the perfect native species for your yard. 

For expert guidance and personalized recommendations, call Landscape II today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What plants are native to Pennsylvania?

Plants native to Pennsylvania include wild blue phlox, Virginia bluebells, and cardinal flowers, which bloom in early spring and mid-spring with beautiful white flowers. 

Other native species are inkberry and mountain laurel, both known for their dark green foliage and suitability for sunny locations and shrub borders.

What are the fast-growing shrubs in PA?

Fast-growing shrubs in Pennsylvania include arrowwood viburnum and winterberry. Arrowwood viburnum features upright stems and white flowers in late spring The winterberry is known for its bright red berries and adds vibrant color to your landscape.

What ground cover is native to Pennsylvania?

Wild ginger and wild blue phlox are excellent ground cover plants native to Pennsylvania.

Wild ginger thrives in shady areas with well-drained soil, forming a dense carpet with its dark green, heart-shaped leaves. The wild blue phlox offers fragrant, inconspicuous flowers in early spring, ideal for woodland settings.


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