The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society advocates growing local native plants.  The guides below are very worthwhile although some suggestions may include native plants that are not found in Rhode Island. We recognize Vascular Flora of Rhode Island (1998) and New England Wildflower Society’s very user friendly Go Botany as the most authoritative sources for identifying plants native to Rhode Island.

RIWPS also offers Cultivation Notes on a variety of plants.

Planting Guides

For all landscapes, we highly recommend the RI Native Plant Guide for its focus on a subset of the 1,300 species listed in 1998 edition of Vascular Flora of Rhode Island.  This group of plants was selected for their ornamental value, potential in restoration projects and ease of propagation. The guide is searchable by a number of different growing conditions.

The New England Wild Flower Society has been developing a comprehensive plant guide. They have released a pilot version via their Facebook page which we highly recommend that you explore. The searchable options include ecoregions.

Plants for Pollinators

Best Bets: What to Plant

Which plants support the most butterflies, moths, birds and other fauna? In his book Bringing Nature Home, Doug Tallamy offers a list of plants to attract butterflies and moths.  While his list is based on mid Atlantic region, many of the plants listed are native to our area.

Also consider his article on Why should you consider planting native?


The National Wildlife Federation is testing a Beta version of a Native Plant Guide which uses Doug Tallamy’s research. Just put in your zip code.

North American Butterfly Association’s site is good for learning about how to start a butterfly garden including general guidelines for both plant and site selection.

Plants for Birds

Recommended planting for Migratory Songbird ManagementRecommended plants to attract migratory birds, written by Susan Smith and Scott McWilliams, Dept. Natural Resources Science, URI. Plants are coded by the quality of nutrition provided for these types of birds.


Audubon Society Native Plant Database Audubon Society Native Plant Database. Search by zip code, type of plant, type of bird.  Includes images of birds.

Site Designs

Native . Booklet from URI Outreach Center.  For professional landscapers and home gardeners.  Includes how to analyze a site and a number of model planting designs coded for specific plants and their value for ecological services including attraction for birds and pollinators.


Native Plants for the Small Yard, a downloadable short book from LeHigh Gap Nature Center by Kate Brandes.  Numerous suggestions and with easy to use design templates for small areas. e.g. corner garden, container garden, mailbox.  Most of the specific plant suggestions are ones native to RI and NE.

Learn from the Experts

As part of their mission to make resources on native plants and ecological landscaping available to as large an audience as possible, every year since 2015 Grow Native Massachusetts has professionally recorded numerous speakers from their Evenings with Experts lectures. All of the videos can be viewed on their website, free of charge.  Truly an excellent resource.