KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Spring is coming and many people consider adding new plants to their landscape in the spring. Here are some native options that could enhance landscaping while maintaining East Tennessee’s natural beauty.

When selecting plants to add, the benefits of native plants cannot be understated. According to the Smithsonian Institute, native plants require less water, soil inputs, and labor to maintain while attracting native wildlife. Other sources also note that native plants are healthier and stronger, and can help the environment by preventing water run-off and improving air quality.

So what native plants are there to choose from in East Tennessee?

East Tennessee has an especially wide range of native plants to choose from. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are over 1,600 species of flowering plants alone, including 100 tree species and 100 native shrub species, the National Park Service says.

With trees, there are a little under 50 species of large trees and an additional 28 species of small trees according to the University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension Service. In that list of trees, there are multiple maples, both Buckeye and Red Buckeye trees, Persimmon trees, Black Walnut, and Sassafras. You might also consider planting White Oak, which has previously had declining populations. The White Oak initiative, which is a project between the UT Division of Forestry, the Tennessee Forestry Association, and the University of Tennessee Extension, has been accepting donated acorns from the hardwood trees to help in reforestation efforts.

See the full list of trees from the UT Agricultural Extension Service below.

The City of Knoxville also has a list of trees native to the city, including the Serviceberry, Flowering Dogwood, Redbud, Fringe Tree, Witch-Hazel, American Holly, and Carolina Buckthorn. Others on the list include:

  • Hop-Hornbean
  • Sourwood
  • Rusty Blackhaw
  • White, Green, and Blue Ash
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Red, Silver, and Sugar Maple
  • Sycamore
  • River Birch
  • Blackgum

Trees are not the only type of plant that can be added to landscaping, however. One might also be interested in adding some shrubs or flowers. The City of Knoxville also offers lists of shrubs and flowers native to the region, which include:

Flower NameGenusFlower NameGenus
Purple AsterAsterVirgin BluebellsMertensia
Butterfly MilkweedAsclepiasBee BalmMonarada
SpiderwortTradescantiaWild ColumbineAquilegia
Tennessee ConeflowerEchinaceaBleeding HeartDicentra
Wild GeraniumGeraniumMax SunflowerHelianthus
Dense Blazing StarLiatrisCardinal FlowerLobelia
Shooting StarDodecatheonSolomon’s SealPolygonatum
Fire PinkSileneTurtleheadChelone
Shrub NameGenusShrub NameGenus
Bottlebrush buckeyeAesculusVirginia SweetspireItea
Red/Black ChokeberryAroniaBeautyberryCallicapra
Swamp MallowHibiscusWhite HydrangeaHydrangea
St. John’s WortHypericumSpicebushLindera
Winged SumacRhusElderberrySambucus
Highbush BlueberryVacciniumMapleleaf ViburnumViburnum
Flowers and shrubs native to Knoxville (City of Knoxville)

The University of Tennessee Agriculture lists some other native perennials in its list of plants for Tennessee Landscapes, including:

  • False Indigo
  • Fringed Bleeding Heart
  • Wad Flower
  • Sunflower (Scientific names helianthus angustifolius, tuberosa, maximiliani, and salicifolia)
  • Crested Iris
  • Liatris
  • Beard Tongue
  • Woodland Phlox
  • Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
  • Creeping Phlox/Thrift (Phlox subulata)
  • Rudbeckia
  • Sweet Coneflower
  • Brown-Eyed Susan
  • Indian Pink
  • Stokes Aster
  • Aromatic Aster
  • Rose Vervain
  • Slimleaf Ironweed

To view the full list of perennials for Tennessee landscapes that UT Extension suggests, click here.