• Plant Guides

    spotted crane’s-bill, GGardner

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

What is the  right plant for your landscape?  Our two recommend plant guides, are searchable by plant type, size and a variety of growing conditions.  Our other resources address other gardening goals for your native landscape.

Please also see the Rhody Native Initiative, a project of the Rhode Island Natural History Survey to provide locally source and grown local native plants. RIWPS also cultivates plants through our Seed Starters Program and offers a number of plants for sale at its May and June sales.

Searchable Planting Guides

RI Native Plant Guide focuses on a subset of the 1,300 species listed in 1998 edition of Vascular Flora of Rhode Island.  These plants were selected for their ornamental value, potential in restoration projects and ease of propagation.

The Native Plant Trust (New England Wild Flower Society) has been developing a comprehensive garden plantfinder.  The searchable options include ecoregions.  Listings have good images (editorial: yeah!)

Other Resources

RIWPS also offers Cultivation Notes on a variety of plants.

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 Specifically 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.

Plants Specifically for Bees

Watch Lisa Lofland Gould Lecture: How do we keep our native ecosystems humming? (by Dr. Gegear, October 5, 2019)

Learn about research and strategies to support native bee populations.  The goal is a landscape that sustains a large diversity of native bees.  See specific plant list by bee tongue length.

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.