Philadelphia is an iconic city with its City of Brotherly Love theme, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and, of course, cheese steaks. But these icons don’t solely define us and our city; there are plenty of other elements that represent us—like the Philly garden. Many plants and flowers are iconically ours, so if you’re wondering how to show your Philly pride, let’s explore what regional plants you can use in your garden.
This reddish-brown wildflower is native to our great city. At seven inches tall, the plant is visually impressive, and it has deep green leaves and a beautiful bell-shaped flower. It grows best in a nicely shaded garden that gets partial sun, and its ideal growing season is April through May. It is extremely easy to grow in our climate, making it the ideal plant for those with a less than green thumb. It is also perennial!
Most of us don’t think of milkweed as being iconic perhaps because it has “weed” in its name. It is, however, native to the area. Thanks to its large size—up to eight inches long—not only will you be growing a native plant, you will also be creating a feeding ground for some of the city’s most spectacular butterflies and birds. Milkweed grows best in direct sunlight, but it can also thrive in partial sun, and it is the perfect addition for the novice gardener, as it “grows like a weed.”
Wild columbines are ideally suited to our hearty climate, as they can grow well without much water or sunlight—although they do best with moderate amounts of each. These colorful plants can grow up to three feet high given the right circumstances, and their brightly colored red petals will attract nearby hummingbirds.
Their daisy-like appearance make black-eyed Susans ideal for anyone growing a wildflower garden. These flowers are a great choice as they grow like wildfire in partial or full sunlight, need minimal watering, and have a long blooming season (from May until September). For all these hearty reasons, these robust flowers dot the meadows in and around Philadelphia.
If you’re looking for native shrubbery for your yard, there is none more Philly-esque than witch hazel. It is more than just a shrub; it has a favorable aroma, is used in traditional medicine, and is a great skincare product. Witch hazel is a late season shrub that can grow up to three feet high and should ideally be planted in moist soil and in partial sunlight.
Doll’s eye, aka white baneberry, is a stunning, flowering plant native to Pennsylvania. It has become popular in many a Philly garden thanks to its beautiful white flowers and its stunning white berries. The large white berries have a black mark in the middle, which gives them their signature “doll-eye” look. They grow up to twelve inches high making them a statement piece in your garden. However, due to their extremely poisonous nature, they should be kept out of reach of children and pets.
A myriad of flowers are native to our city, many of which are stunningly beautiful and surprisingly easy to grow. To get both your Philly–and green–on at the same time, choose any of these plants, flowers, and shrubs to complete your gardens.