General Growing Conditions – 2019 Birdy Dozen

Note: Many plants will grow in a variety of light and moisture conditions. They will be most robust in their preferred conditions, but may grow well in sub-optimal conditions. The conditions below are a combination of recommendations from LBJ Wildflower Center (, Don Leopold’s book Native Plants for the Northeast, US Fish & Wildlife Service’s Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping and others. They may not address your own yard’s conditions.


Scientific Name Common Name Size (ft) Blooms Light Soil Notes
Amelanchier arborea Downy serviceberry, Common shadbush 15-25 Mar-May, white

Fleshy fruit, red to purple

S-PS-Sh D-M Used by 58 species of wildlife, 35 bird species. Important early summer food.
Aquilegia canadensis Wild columbine, Red columbine 0.5-3 Apr-Jul, red-yellow, showy. Fruit: capsule S-PS D-M Nectar for hummingbirds, seed for finches. Needs well-drained soil, drought tolerant. Spreads by seed. Rocky woods, slopes, ledges.
Helianthus divaricatus Woodland sunflower 1.5-6.5 Jul-Sept, white

Fruit: capsule

PS D-M Gives color to shady understory. Seeds have high fat content. Dry open woods, slopes.
Juniperus virginiana Eastern Red Cedar 50-75, Spread 35-50 Mar-Apr, red-purple Fruit: Jul-Mar, conelike S-PS D-M Evergreen. Berries eaten by over 50 species of birds.
Lindera benzoin Spicebush, Northern spicebush 6-16 Mar-May, yellow

Fruit: Sept-Oct, scarlet berry

PS-Sh M-W Fast growing, drought, cold and heat resistant shrub. Fall color yellow. Aromatic. Host plant for spicebush swallowtail.
Panicum virgatum Switchgrass 3-6 Jul-Aug S-PS D-M-W Warm season grass. Food for sparrows. Grows in clumps, prevents erosion. Deer resistant.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia creeper, Woodbine Spread 3-35, vine Jun-Aug, greenish white

Fruit Sep-Feb, dark blue berry

S-PS-Sh D-M-W Fruit eaten by variety of wildlife. Bank stabilizer. Woody, deciduous vine; high climbing or trailing. Can be ground cover.
Prunus virginiana American chokecherry 20-30 Spread 20-35 May-Jun white

Fruit: Aug-Sept, fleshy

S-PS M Fast growing, short-lived. Open, moist sites, pioneer after fire. Fall color dark red, purple. Important summer wildlife food.
Salix discolor Pussy willow 12-20 Mar, white, green

Fruit: furry catkins

S M Fast growing, can be cut back every few years. Spring food source.
Solidago rugosa Rough, or Rough-stemmed Goldenrod 2-6 Aug-Nov, yellow

Fruit: capsule

S-PS M-W Forms clumps, likes well-drained soil. Fields, woods, floodplains, roadsides.
Sporobolus heterolepsis Prairie dropseed 1-2 Jun-Aug, yellow, green, pink S D Slow growing, clump-forming warm season grass. Fine textured, not flattened by snow.
Vernonia noveboracensis New York ironweed 3.5-8 Aug-Oct, purple

Fruit: capsule

S-PS M-W Brilliant flowers. Tall, upright form adds structure to garden. Spreads. Tolerates clay. Juglone tolerant.


Key:     Light:      S= Sun, at least 6 hours/day direct sun in growing season

PS = Part Sun             PSh = Part Shade

Sh = Shade, less than 3 hours direct sun/day, or filtered light

Soil:        D= Dry, water does not remain after a rain            M= Moist, soil is damp, may be occasionally saturated

W= Wet, soil is saturated for much of the growing season, except in droughts