City Cast

🌱 Get to Know Madison’s Native Plants

Hayley Sperling
Hayley Sperling
Posted on August 23   |   Updated on September 12
Native plans play an important role for countless wildlife species in Wisconsin. (DNR)

Native plans play an important role for countless wildlife species in Wisconsin. (DNR)

Native plants are an important part of our ecosystem and provide food for countless insects and wildlife that call Madison home. Since they’re true locals, native plants are uniquely adapted to the growing conditions of the upper Midwest. They even save water because all they need to thrive is average rainfall.

Fall can be a great time to plant: the warmer soil encourages root growth and there’s lower weed pressure than in the spring.

The city encourages residents to use native plants in their yards, and some Madisonians have really taken to them. But if you don’t want to commit to planting native species in your yard, or if you’re looking for a new way to flex your green thumb, check out the city’s Adopt-A-Median program.

Here’s a look at some of Madison’s native plants. For more information, the UW-Madison Arboretum, Wisconsin DNR, and City of Madison all have great resources.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly milkweed is a beloved native species known for its pollinator-attracting powers. Its brightly colored orange flowers typically bloom from July to August, and it’s best suited for well-drained, sandy, or gravelly soils.

Monkey flower (Mimulus ringens)

This plant loves full to partial sun and does best in rich loamy soil. When it blooms, the Monkey flower produces a pale blue-violet flower that some say looks like a monkey’s face.

Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild bergamot has fragrant long-lasting flowers. It has a wide tolerance for planting conditions and can easily grow to great heights when there’s no competition for nutrients. Bergamot flowers bloom from June to September and attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

Culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum)

This plant flourishes in the sun and can grow up to six feet tall. Culver’s root flowers grow on distinctive slender spikes resembling candelabras. Fun fact: the plant has nothing to do with Wisconsin’s beloved eponymous fast food chain, rather, it’s named for a doctor Culver who prescribed the plant as an effective laxative.

Hey Madison

Want to know what's happening in Madison? Sign up for our free newsletter, Madison Minutes. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

The latest in Madison