Native Plants

Missouri native plants lived in our region even before people settled here. They are well adapted to our extreme weather and provide food and shelter for important wildlife such as birds, bees, butterflies and insects.

A garden planted with Missouri native plants is a sustainable landscape which will become easier to care for as it matures and save you money on water, fertilizer, pesticides and labor.

Brightside’s demonstration garden is planted to mimic Missouri’s natural habitats. Consider your garden type and select the right plant for the right place.

If you need a bit more help to figure out your garden type, read more in-depth garden type descriptions below.

Find Native Plants by Garden Type


Garden Types

What types of soil and sun does your garden have? Learn about these common Missouri garden types and select the right native plants for your garden.


Glades are open, rocky areas with thin, dry soils. If you have an area that gets lots of sun and has poor, rocky soil, glade plants are the right choice as they thrive in hot weather with little moisture. This landscape can be found naturally throughout the Missouri Ozarks and, due to urban development, in many neighborhoods across St. Louis.

Butterfly Garden

Butterflies are not only beautiful but also do a great job pollinating plants to produce fruit and seeds. Butterflies love brightly colored native flowers that grow in full sun and produce nectar. Native plants also provide habitat for egg laying and food for caterpillars. Butterfly milkweed is essential for the migrating Monarch butterfly.

Remember, many flowers that attract butterflies also attract bees, but the bees are more interested in the pollen and nectar than they are in you!

Rain Garden

Rain gardens take advantage of rainfall — soak up the water with their deep roots plus filter out pollutants. A rain garden can be created in a naturally low area in your yard or garden or can be dug to meet the desired dimensions. Directing a downspout into your rain garden is the easiest way to keep those water-loving plants happy. Be sure to select the right plants for your soil type.


The openings in a shaded area or woodland garden are great for growing plants that need only partial sun. Prairie plants are often found in woodland areas as the shining sun peaks through the openings and dries the ground, making the area more suitable for these sun-loving plants.

The woodland area in Brightside’s garden includes a combination of woody plants including trees and shrubs — post oak, sassafras, eastern redcedar, buckbrush and aromatic sumac.

Brightside does not have a forested area in our garden and wants you to understand the difference between a woodland and a forest. In a forest, the trees are much denser, allowing very little sunlight in. The ground stays wetter and cooler on the forest floor. Areas with lots of thick, dense trees are perfect for plants such as ferns and other natives that require full shade. In urban areas, woodland gardens can create a noise barrier to bustling streets.


A prairie garden consists mostly of grasses and flowers. Many plants found in Missouri’s prairies thrive even in dry, windy and hot conditions. These deep-rooted plants help improve soil drainage and increase water absorption. Native prairies can be found throughout Missouri. Much of north St. Louis city and county was a prairie prior to settlement.

Use This at Home

Consider the type of soil you have and the amount of sunlight your plants will receive and select your garden type above to learn the Missouri native plants that are suitable for those conditions.

Visit the Demo Garden

Native Landscaping Resources

Native Wildflower Resources

Resources for Missouri Trees

Butterfly Garden Resources

Other Sustainability Resources