Three New Native Plants for Our Front Garden

The first plants have arrived for fall planting. Yay! All are sun-lovers destined for the front garden.


Two of these newcomers are closely related: Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) and Hoary Vervain (V. stricta).

Blue Vervain. Photo from

Both have blue flower spikes that bloom in late summer. Both have an upright habit. Both are host plants for Buckeye butterflies.

Hoary Vervain. Photo from

The main difference is that Blue Vervain likes more moisture and grows taller (3-6′) than Hoary Vervain (2-4′). I saw Hoary Vervain in July at the garden of Rhonda Hayes, author of Pollinator Friendly Gardening, during the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling.

Wild Senna. Photo from

The third newbie is something completely different: Wild Senna (Cassia hebecarpa): a large, slightly tropical-looking plant with yellow pea-like summer flowers. It’s also a host for Cloudless Sulphur butterflies.

The real challenge regarding these plants is figuring out where to put them. I’m thinking that the Blue Vervain will go next to the Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis) at the south end of the Driveway Border.Β It should provide some late-season blue to balance the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). The other blue plants in that part of the bed all seem to give up blooming by early July.

The Hoary Vervain might end up replacing the Ohio Spiderwort(Tradescantia ohiensis) at the east end of the Parkway Bed. And the Wild Senna will go to the far end of the L-shaped sidewalk bed, in the spot farthest from the sidewalk (the longer part of the L stretches along the sidewalk, and the shorter part along the boundary with the neighbor’s yard).

41 Comments on “Three New Native Plants for Our Front Garden

  1. Love your natives.
    Bet the wildlife ( bees and bugs) do too.
    Horray for you.
    Let’s hear it for the Prairie.

    cheers from Australia; love your blog.

    • I simultaneously love to have big drifts of the same plant while trying out many different species. Hard to balance the conflicting impulses.

  2. Beware of Wild Senna! I finally removed mine before it took over my side yard.

  3. Your wildlife is going to love you! Like you, I try to plant to entice the visitors to the garden and then hope that they will stay.

  4. The vervains look pretty. It’s such fun trying out new (to us) plants, especially pollinators, unless they become takeover artists. Good luck in your quest for location.

  5. I love that you buy plants and then figure out where to put them. I’m trying to do it the other way around and there are just so many choices that making a decision is almost impossible.

  6. I’ve been growing a similar native senna and have been pretty happy with it, although the flowers have not been quite as dramatic as I’d hoped.

    I’ll be interested to hear how you like the vervain!

  7. I saw Verbena stricta in several nurseries when I was on the UK in August, I wanted to buy it but didn’t have space in my luggage. I might try to get seed. Great choices for your garden.

  8. You are creating a wonderful garden for wildlife. Vervain is also noted to ward off vampires, if you have a problem with that.

  9. Nice! Keep us posted on these great new plants! I don’t have enough sun for them here at home. But they love the sun at the Arboretum, so I get to visit them frequently. πŸ˜‰ Great plants!

  10. How exciting! I think it is hoary vervain I have one plant of that I got from a local plant exchange last spring. I am pleased it did well in the curb area. I think that is the kind of wild senna I have, even though I found out there is a different kind that is native here in SE Nebraska. It self sows, and I dig out the babies to take to the plant exchanges. I missed some this year, though, and figured I would get them out this fall. They got big enough that the ones I’ve dug so far are not doing well. I may just need to pull some out before they get any bigger. I experimented and cut back one of the plants after the seed pods formed, to see if it would bloom again. It did not, but the plant looks good, and I may not have as many volunteers this spring. I still have other plants I did not cut back, so there will be plenty.

  11. I’ve been holding off on fall plantings until after the privacy fence is installed. When are you going to publish a plant list for your yard? It would be very helpful for us copycats. πŸ˜‰

  12. Hello Jason, the yellow of the Wild Senna looks good with the vervain. It’s also a very pretty plant and I’ve seen plants like it at the Garden Centre, I just can’t remember what they were called. A little bit of reading needed to see whether it has a chance on the plant list.

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