Recommended Sustainable Plants for Connecticut Schools

By Vickie Wallace and Alyssa Siegel-Miles, UConn Extension

Plants for schools are considered sustainable if they have the ability to withstand the often challenging conditions found in CT school landscapes. The plants listed below are all drought tolerant once established and native to the northeast United States, except where noted.

Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba). Photo by Alyssa Siegel-Miles
Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba). Photo by Alyssa Siegel-Miles.

Key:
♣ Flowers or has ornamental interest in spring or fall, when students are present.
♥ Attracts butterflies
♦ Deer resistant

 

    Perennials (except where noted) (for full sun):

    ♣ ♥ ♦ Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) – 2-4’; may re-seed
    ♣    ♦ Barren strawberry (Walsteinia fragarioides) – 6”; also part shade

    ♣ ♥    Bee balm (Monarda punctata, M. didyma, M. fistulosa) – 2-3’

    ♣ ♥ ♦ Black-eyed Susan/Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta; Rudbeckia triloba) – 2-4’; biennial; re-seeds itself
    ♣ ♥    Blue wood aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium) – 2-5’; also part shade
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) – 1-2’; takes time to establish

    Blue wood aster plants above stone wall
    Blue wood aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium). Photo by Alyssa Siegel-Miles

    ♣    ♦ Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) – 1-2’; not native to U.S.; attracts bees

    ♣ ♥   Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) – 2-5’
    ♣ ♥   Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum) – 4-6’; takes time to establish
    ♣    ♦ Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) – 3-4’
    ♣ ♥    Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) – 1.5-2’; also part shade
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) – 6”; salt tolerant
    ♣ ♥ ♦ New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) – 3-5’
    ♣ ♥    Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) – 1-3’; annual; re-seeds itself
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) – 3-5’; not drought tolerant, requires medium to wet conditions; does not induce sneezing or cause allergies
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Stonecrop (Sedum spp.) 1-3’, not native to U.S.

    ♣ ♥    Threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) – 1.5-2’; salt tolerant

    ♣ ♥ ♦ Thyme (Thymus vulgaris, T. Praecox) – 6”

    Patch of Northern bush honeysuckle
    Northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). Photo by Alyssa Siegel-Miles

    ♣ ♥    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – 1-3’; salt tolerant

     

    Perennials (for part shade):

    ♦ Canada wild ginger (Asarum canadense) – 6”-1’
    ♣   ♦ Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) – 6”-1’; also full sun
    ♣   ♦ Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) – 6”-1’; also full shade
    ♣   ♦ Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) – 1-1.5’
    ♣   ♦ Green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) – 6”-1’; also full shade
    ♦ Marginal shield fern (Dryopteris marginalis) – 1.5-2’
    ♣ ♥   White wood aster (Eurybia divaricata) – 1-2.5’; spreads by seed; also full shade

    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges (full sun, except where noted):

    ♣   ♦ Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) – 2-4’; salt tolerant
    ♣   ♦ Northern switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) – 2-4’; salt tolerant
    ♣   ♦ Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) – 1’; also wet soils; part to full shade
    ♣   ♦ Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis) – 1-1.5’

    Patch of Purple lovegrass in meadow
    Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis). Photo by Alyssa Siegel-Miles

     

    Shrubs (full sun to part shade, except where noted):

    ♣     ♦   Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa) –3-5’; evergreen
    ♣     ♦   Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica, M. caroliniensis) – 5-10’
    ♣       Chokeberry (Aronia spp.) – 3-10’; salt tolerant
    ♣     ♦   Dog hobble (Leucothoe fontanesiana) – 2-3’; part to full shade only

    ♣       Fothergilla (Fothergilla spp.) – 2-10’; great fall color
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’) – 1.5-2’; salt tolerant

    ♣ ♥    Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) – 6-10’
    ♦ Inkberry (Ilex glabra) – 3-5’; salt tolerant
    ♣    ♦ Leucothoe (Leucothoe axillaris) – 2-4’; part shade 

    Flowering patch of moss phlox
    Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata). Photo by Alyssa Siegel-Miles

    ♣ ♥ ♦ Northern bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) – 3’

    ♣        Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) – 15-25’
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) – 2-4’; also part shade

    ♣ ♥ ♦ Smooth witherod viburnum (Viburnum nudum) – 5-12’
    ♣ ♥    Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) – 3-8’; salt tolerant
    ♦ Sweetgale (Myrica gale) – 3-6’; thrives in wet conditions but adapts to dry
    ♣    ♦ Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) – 3-10’; salt tolerant
    ♣ ♥    Witherod viburnum (Viburnum cassinoides) – 5-10’; prefers wet soils
    ♣ ♥ ♦ Mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) – 3-6’; part to full shade only

     

    Plants that spread aggressively – “living mulch” (Perennial, except where noted):

    These plants spread aggressively by suckers (roots). Use where no other competing plants are desired, such as in parking lot islands.

    ♣      Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) – 3-8”; part to full shade
    ♣   ♦ Canada windflower (Anemone canadensis) – 1-2’; full sun or part shade
    ♣   ♦ Hay scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) – 1-2’; part to full shade
    ♣       Staghorn or smooth sumac (Rhus typhina; Rhus glabra) – 8-12’; shrub; full sun or part shade
    ♣   ♦ Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) – 6”; full sun or part shade
    ♣   ♦ Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) – 3’; shrub; full sun or part shade

     

    Plant Sources: (Inclusion in this document does not equate endorsement.)

    SEED:
    Ernst Seeds, 8884 Mercer Pike, Meadville, PA 16335; (800) 873-3321 (814) 336-2404; www.ernstseed.com
    Harts Seed, 304 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT 06109; 1-800-326-HART Wethersfield, CT, hartseed.com
    Lavoie Horticulture, East Granby, CT; (413) 355-0200; lavoiehorticulture.com (seed and plants)
    New England Wetland Plants, 820 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002; (413) 548-8000; http://newp.com (seed and plants)
    Valley Green, Inc., 642 S. Summer Street, Holyoke, MA 01040 (Corporate Headquarters); valleygreenusa.com

    PLANTS - retail:
    Broken Arrow Nursery, 13 Broken Arrow Road, Hamden, CT 06518; (203) 288-1026; www.brokenarrownursery.com
    Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery, 212 Grassy Hill Rd, Woodbury, CT; (203) 263-6626; www.earthtonesnatives.com
    Natureworks, 518 Forest Road, Northford, CT 06472 (203) 484-2748; naturework.com
    Perennial Harmony Garden Center, 144 Boston Post Road, East Lyme, CT 06333; (860) 440-3653; www.perennialharmony.com

    PLANTS - wholesale:
    Canterbury Horticulture, 351 Brooklyn Road, Canterbury, CT 06331; (866) 287-0893; www.canterburyhorticulture.com
    Judge’s Farm Perennials, 3 Old Shore Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371; (860-434-0822; www.judgesfarm.com
    North Creek Nurseries, 388 North Creek Road, Landenberg, PA 19350; (610) 255-0100; www.northcreeknurseries.com
    Planters’ Choice Nursery, Newtown, CT; (203) 426-4037, and Watertown, CT; (860) 945-6588; planterschoice.com
    Prides Corner Farms, 122 Waterman Rd, Lebanon, CT; (800) 437-5168; www.pridescorner.com
    Summer Hill Nursery, 888 Summer Hill Road, Madison, CT 06443; (203) 421-3055; www.summerhillnursery.com
    The Plant Group Perennial Nursery, 117 Pond Rd- Route 207, Franklin, CT 06254; (800) 864-2670; plantgroupnursery.com

     

    Questions? Contact:

    Vickie Wallace
    UConn Extension
    Extension Educator
    Sustainable Turf and Landscape
    Phone: (860) 885-2826
    Email: victoria.wallace@uconn.edu
    Web: ipm.uconn.edu/school

     

    UConn is an equal opportunity program provider and employer. © UConn Extension. All rights reserved. Updated June 2019