Native Plants for Your Landscape


Whether you have a balcony garden, a small urban lot, a 4-acre parcel or a sprawling ranch, you can include native plants in your landscape. There are many reasons to embrace the use of Missouri’s wonderful native plants.

Native plants create beauty and interest with a progression of flowers and fruits that furnish food and cover for butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. In addition, they:

  • Are adapted to our climate
  • Are adapted to our soils
  • Require little or no irrigation
  • Seldom require fertilizer or pesticides

What Is Native and Why It Matters

  • The current mix of Missouri native plants has been here since the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago.
  • Native plants evolved with Missouri’s geology, climate, and wildlife.
  • Many wildlife species prefer native plants for habitat and depend on them for survival.
  • Well-established and maintained native-plant communities help resist invasive non-natives that threaten wildlife habitat and crops.
  • Native plants help preserve our natural diversity.

Facts About Lawns

  • A lawn mower pollutes as much in one hour as driving a car 20 miles.
  • Lawn mowers use 580 million gallons of gasoline each year.
  • Thirty to 60 percent of urban fresh water is used for watering lawns.
  • About 67 million pounds of pesticides are used on U.S. lawns each year.

Reduce Mowing and Increase Biodiversity with These Environmentally Friendly Practices

Plant buffalo grass

Buffalo grass grows well in full sun and likes dry, clay or average soil (not sandy). Tawny beige in winter and early spring, it starts to green in mid-April.

  • It requires only ½ inch of water a week, compared with most turf grasses that need 1 to 1 ½ inches.
  • It needs little or no fertilizer.
  • It is insect- and disease-resistant.
  • Its mature height is only 4 to 6 inches, so you can forget mowing. Or, for a manicured look, mow it once a month.

Try a prairie meadow

A diverse prairie planting can showcase Missouri’s beautiful wildflowers and sturdy native grasses.

  • Prairie grasses and plants provide year-round habitat for wildlife that includes songbirds, small mammals, and beneficial insects.
  • Meadows can be planted in areas 1,000 square feet and larger.
  • Meadows include native grasses such as little bluestem and wildflowers such as prairie blazing star.
  • You can include a mowed border to create a transition zone between your house and meadow.
Additional Resources