• Plant Guides

    spotted crane’s-bill, GGardner

•  The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society advocates an ECOLOGICAL APPROACH to your garden, which means using native plants well adapted to your particular growing conditions. We recommend using plants native to Rhode Island and the larger ecoregion #59 to which Rhode Island belongs.  The primary goal is to create healthy, diverse ecosystems.  Learn for about the ECOLOGICAL APPROACH from our partner organization Grown Native Massachusetts.

•  What is the right native plant for your landscape?  We recommend 2 online guides, searchable by plant type, size and a variety of growing conditions.  Our other resources address specific aspects of ecological gardening.

•  We cultivate native plants through our Seed Starters Program and offers a number of plants at our plant sales.

Best Searchable Plant Guides for Rhode Island

URI, RI Native Plant Guide focuses on a subset of the 1,300 species listed in 1998 edition of Vascular Flora of Rhode Island. Selected for their ornamental value, potential in restoration projects and ease of propagation plants can be searched by type, characteristics, ecological value as well as growing conditions.

image of eco regions of New England Native Plant Trust Garden Plant Finder is comprehensive and regularly updated. Plants can be searched by ecoregion, types, growing conditions, a host of other plant characteristics including the specific ecological value of the plant. Includes images.

When searching we urge you to select plants native to our ecoregion (# 59 – Northeast Coastal Zone) and straight species vs. cultivars or specimen in order to maximize the ecological contribution of the plant to your landscape. 

RIWPS also offers Cultivation Notes on a variety of plants.


∴ Not sure ecological gardening is important? See Doug Tallamy’s online lecture Nature’s Best Hope based on his book with the same name.  Excellent resource that offers many arguments and supporting research for the importance of “ecological gardening”.


– Put Down Those Pruners: Pollinators Need Your ‘Garden Garbage! or Leave the Leaves both by Justin Wheeler from Xerces Society

Other Resources

Plants for Pollinators & Biodiversity

Which plants support the most butterflies, moths, birds and other forms of wildlife?  In his books Bringing Nature Home, and Natures Best Hope, Doug Tallamy offers a list of plants to create landscapes that support biodiversity as well as proposing very specific steps for maximizing the impact of individual landscapes to restore and maintain larger functioning ecosystems.

His books, articles, videos can be found on Homegrown National Park website.  HOMEGROWN NATIONAL PARK™ is a grassroots call-to-action to restore biodiversity and ecosytems functions by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks. Explore these resources.  Add your landscape to this effort.  Put yourself on the map!

Also watch the recorded, Conversation with Doug Tallamy, hosted by RIWPS member Anne Raver on February 7, 2021

The National Wildlife Federation offers Native Plant Guide listing the plants that attract the highest numbers of butterflies and moths to feed birds and other wildlife where you live. Just put in your zip code.

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.