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. 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.

  2. 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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