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Folder Native Plants and Rain Garden

Native Plants & Rain Gardens


Native plants are plants that grew in a defined area prior to European settlements.  These plants have evolved over many thousands of years to live in a specific climate, soil type, soil moisture and elevation.  Because they are suited to the local conditions, they require less care than regular flowers and they provide food for wildlife.  Many are resistant to deer browsing.  

Benefits of native plants:  Birds and butterflies depend on these plants for nectar, food and habitat.  When the native plants bloom at different times of the year, you will have beautiful plants to look at in all seasons that will showcase the flowers that NJ is proud to have.  The plants will last for many years and not need any pesticides or fertilizers and require little maintenance.

A rain garden is a garden that is landscaped but has a shallow depression that allows rain and snow to be collected and seep naturally into the ground.  This is the reason for the  stones in the middle of the garden and why it is dug out.  Plants adapted to moist and wet soils are planted in rain gardens.

Benefits of rain gardens:  By planting rain gardens, you are helping the environment in several ways.  You are reducing run-off and allowing the rain water, which may accumulate, to slowly seep into the ground and re-charge the aquifer.  This is very important in Kingwood Township, where we all rely on ground water from wells.  Less run-off also means less downstream flooding.  Slowing the water reduces erosion, lets silt settle out and ensures the soil's stability.  You are reducing pollutants from non-point pollution and allowing any nutrients in the run-off to get used by the rain garden plants, instead of polluting our streams and rivers.  In addition, instead of the water laying in the grass and creating a wet problem area that is difficult to mow, you have a beautiful flower garden.

Kingwood Township:  Rain gardens planted with native plants are ideally suited to Kingwood Township.  



The new native plant rain garden at Kingwood Park is an Eagle Scout project completed by Keith Augustine.  Sincere thanks are extended to Keith and his family, Boy Scout Troop 251, and the Kingwood Environmental Commission for planting and maintaining the garden and building the path and kiosk.  The project was made possible with many volunteer hours and generous donations from Dr. Randi Eckel of Toadshade Wildflower Farm, Dr. Hubert Ling of the Native Plant Society of NJ, and a number of business and individual contributions.  A kiosk displays educational information about the benefits of native plants and rain gardens.

Native Plants in the Kingwood Park Native Plant Rain Garden

Anemone canadensis -Canadian Anemone-

Canadian anemone is very adaptable and can become quite aggressive in good conditions.  As areas become overgrown, flowering may slow down or have fewer buds.  When this happens, plants should be divided in the fall.  The name comes from its broad native distribution throughout most of Canada and the US.  White flowers with golden stamens appear from April-June on 1-2 foot plants.



Asclepias incarnata-Swamp Milkweed-  

One of the few ornamentals that thrives in mucky clay soils. It prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil but will tolerate heavy clay-like soil.  This 2-4 foot plant bears pink flowers in June-October, followed by milkweed pods.  It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and is a host for monarch and queen butterfly larvae.


Eupatorium perfoliatum -Common Boneset-  

This 3-6 foot plant is one that draws birds and butterflies to it, as well as other nectar-loving animals.  Its white blooms start to appear in June and cease in October.  It thrives in moist to wet soils in sun or shade.


Lobelia cardinalis-Cardinal flower-

This 1-6 foot plant is related to the Great Blue Lobelia, but has red flowers that bloom from May to October, and rely upon hummingbirds to spread pollen.  It can grow in sun or shade, but must have moist or wet soil.


Lobelia siphilitica-Great Blue Lobelia-

This form of the lobelia enjoys sun or shade, and likes wetter soil than other plants.  Any form of dryness or drought will kill the plant.  Blue flowers bloom in August-October on upright 1-3 foot plants.


Monarda fistulosa - Wild Bergamot or beebalm-  

This wildflower is enjoyed for its minty aroma, and the leaves could be used for tea.  The flowers themselves look like purple, pink, or white pom-poms.  The plant grows 2-4 feet high in dry or moist soils in sun or partial shade and blooms in the summer.


Penstemon digitalis-Foxglove beardtongue-

This plant is good for claylike soil, with moist conditions and sun or partial shade.  This 2-5 foot plant has white flowers with purple lines, which attracts bees and hummingbirds.  It blooms in May-July.


Symphyotrichum novae-angliae- New England Aster- ~ This plant can have a variety of colors, including lavender, blue, and white, with pink that is commercially grown, blooming from August-October. ~The species can grow 6 feet tall in moist soils and partial shade.  This flower attracts butterflies, and is even a larval host to Pearl Crescent butterflies.


Symphyotrichum puniceum-Swamp Aster-

This plant is very good with lots of moisture, partial shade, and can grow about 3-6 feet tall.  It has purple and white blooms, and blooms August through November.


Vernonia noveboracensis- New York Ironweed-

This plant normally grows along streams or moist thickets, but will also grow in average or dry soil.  Purple flowers bloom from August to October on 5-8 foot branching plants.   Butterflies are attracted to the flowers and birds eat the seeds.


Zizia aurea - Golden zizia or Golden Alexanders-

2 inch clusters of tiny yellow flowers bloom in the spring.  1-3 foot plants grow in moist soils in sun or part shade.  The plant attracts butterflies and is the larval host of the black swallowtail butterfly.



This information was written by Keith Augustine and Deborah J. Kratzer.

Information source:

Photo credits:  Deborah J. Kratzer unless otherwise noted.  These photos may be used for non-commercial use with the following acknowledgement:  "Photo credit Deborah J. Kratzer at"

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Spring 2013

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Fall 2013





Native Plants:

Explore native plants at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Native Plant Society of New Jersey

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve


Invasive Plants:

New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team  

White Tailed Deer:

Rutgers NJ Ag. Experiment Station: Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance