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Native Plants for your Chicago Garden

“Urbs in horto” or “City in a Garden” perfectly captures Chicago, a city of greenery, parks, and gardens. In the spring and summer, and even into the fall, the city blooms, the streets are lined with leafy greens, and the parks fill with locals enjoying the easy access to nature. For those wishing to contribute to the city in a garden, there are many plants, flowers, and trees native to the Chicago area that make a perfect addition to any plot. Here are a few to start with to support the biodiversity of the city. 

Oakleaf Hydrangea

The Oakleaf Hydrangea adores shade and moist soil. The shrub ranges from three to twelve feet and produces flowers that turn from white to violet between June and mid-winter. These plants are a favorite of bumble bees who will help pollinate your garden and do not attract any other pesky garden critters. 

Elderberry Bushes

Elderberry Bushes are a local favorite due to their relative low-maintenance and the delicious berry they produce. The Elderberry Bush tolerates Chicago’s harsh winters and blooms in late June with a cluster of white flowers. In August, the purple Elderberry fruit blossoms and can be harvested for jams and wines by September. 

Purple Coneflower

These pale, purple flowers are abundant around the wooded areas of Chicago. They can grow up to three feet tall with minimal water or care. The beauty of the purple coneflower is that, if their seeds are sprinkled in a sunny area, they will thrive on their own. 

Black Eyed Susans

Black Eyed Susans are aptly named for the dark brown “black eye” at their center, surrounded by golden-yellow petals. These wildflowers are a favorite among butterflies, bees, and gardeners alike, and they love sunshine. Between March and May, gardens, backyards, and parks burst with these yellow flowers which add a wonderful pop of color to any space. 

Butterfly Weed

Don’t let the name fool you. Butterfly Weed is far from a weed and produces a bushy orange flower May until September that attracts (you guessed it) butterflies. The plant requires full sunlight and is incredibly drought resistant, adding a pop of color to any garden and welcoming the coming and going of butterflies to your backyard.