• 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.  The primary gaol is to create healthy, diverse ecosystems.  Learn for about the ECOLOGICAL APPROACH from our partner organization Grown Native Massachusetts.

•  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 specific aspects of ecological gardening.

•  We cultivate native plants through our Seed Starters Program and offers a number of plants for sale at our May, June & Fall 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 plant finder.  The searchable options include ecoregions.  Listings have good images (editorial: yeah!)

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

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.