Clumping for Neatness: Tidy Native Plants


Columbiine still blooming
Columbine still blooming

Being known as a “plant person”, I am often asked for plants that are “neat” in habit. I don’t know if this is because they fear native plants are “messy” or they are just neatniks. The “messy”, unattractive plants we often see by waysides and roadsides are often non-native plants brought here from far away lands. Every “weed” we see is not a native “wildflower”.

For my neat and tidy friends, I suggest these plants which grow in easily managed clumps. When you choose plants look for the growth habit. If a plant description says “running” or “fast spreader”, watch out. Instead choose a “clumper”.

The clumping growth habit makes upkeep easy.  Just divide the clumps when it becomes too big.  Give the extra plants to your gardening friends to spread the native plant goodness around.

All the plants in this list are tough and hardy. I have planted some of them in some hard, dry, clay soil without any amendment but plenty of weeds. And they thrive.

How Clumpers Grow

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

The “Clumpers”

Herbaceous – Perennial flowers

Agastache scrophularifolia (Giant Purple Hyssop)
Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine)
Asclepias incarnata  (Swamp Milkweed)
Asclepias syriaca      (Common Milkweed)
Asclepias tuberosa   (Butterfly-weed)
Baptisia tinctoria    (Wild Indigo)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Euphorbia corollata (Flowering surge)
Heuchera americana (Alumroot)
Liatris spicata (Spiked Gayfeather)
Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower)
Penstemon digitalis (White Beardtongue)
Penstemon hirsutus  (Hairy Beardtongue)
Rudbeckia triloba (Three-lobed Coneflower)
Thermopsis montana (Golden Pea or Mountain Pea)
Zizia aptera (Heart-leaved Golden Alexander)
Zizia aurea (Golden Alexander)


Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Sambucus canadensis Common Elderberry)

A Gallery of Clumping Flowers

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More Native Plant Lists

Spring Blooming Native Plants of Philadelphia

Spring Ephemerals – Early Bloomers for Your Backyard Habitat

Summer Blooming Native Flowers

Summer-into-Fall Blooming Native Plants for Philadelphia

Why Native Plants?

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