Indiana Native & Non Invasive Species: The Ultimate Guide for Full Sun Perennials

Indiana Native & Non Invasive Species: The Ultimate Guide for Full Sun Perennials

Native plants are the backbone of our ecosystem, providing food and habitat for wildlife. They’re also superstars at conserving water and requiring fewer chemicals. These hardy plants have evolved with Indiana’s unique climate and soil conditions, making them a top choice for local gardens.

In this guide, we’ll dive into a handpicked selection of full sun perennials that love our Hoosier home as much as we do. You’ll learn about their key characteristics, benefits, and how to make them thrive in your garden.

But wait, there’s more! It’s not all about us humans; we share our space with some pretty important critters—pollinators! So, you’ll also find some stellar tips on attracting these garden helpers. From butterflies to bees, they play a crucial role in our food system—and they love native plants too!

Top 9 Full Sun Perennials To Grow In Indiana

1. Coneflower

Meet the star of our list – the native Coneflower. A native flower in Indiana, these sun-loving perennials are a favorite among gardeners and it’s easy to see why. With their large, vibrant flowers that stand tall on sturdy stems, they command attention and add a splash of color to any sunny spot.

Growing Conditions for Coneflowers

If you’ve decided to add coneflowers to your garden, here’s what you need to know about their growing conditions:

  • Ideal Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil Moisture: Well-drained soil

One of the highlights of adding coneflowers is the joy of seeing them bloom from midsummer into fall. The typical coneflower sports a prominent central cone, surrounded by petals that may be pink, yellow, orange, or white. The variations in foliage range from dark green to light green with lance-shaped leaves.

But their beauty isn’t the only reason they’re loved! Coneflowers contribute significantly to the local ecosystem. Their seed-filled cones offer food for birds during winter months and provide shelter for small mammals. They’re also among the top five deer-resistant native plants, making them a great addition to your garden even if deer are a concern. So go ahead and invite these beauties into your garden!

The spiky seed head of a purple coneflower ready to be planted.

2. Peony

Peonies are the grand dames of the garden, known for their large, opulent blooms and sweet fragrance that can fill a sunny Indiana space. These classic perennials offer a nostalgic charm with flowers that range from delicate singles to extravagant doubles.

Growing Requirements


Peonies prefer well-drained soil rich in organic matter.


Regular watering is essential, especially during dry spells. However, avoid waterlogging as this can lead to root rot.

The spectacle of peony flowers usually graces gardens from late spring to early summer. With colors like pinks, reds, whites, and yellows, their appearance is as varied as it is striking. Some popular cultivars include ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ with its lush pink petals and ‘Festiva Maxima’ renowned for its white blooms with flecks of crimson.

Peonies aren’t just about good looks; they play a role in supporting our local pollinators too. The plants produce abundant nectar which attracts bees and butterflies—essential players in our ecosystem. For those looking to replace invasive species with beneficial natives, consider these 5 native plant alternatives to invasive species.

By integrating peonies into your garden, you’re creating a vibrant and supportive environment for wildlife while indulging in some of nature’s most enchanting floral displays.

A pink peony loves full sun and grows well in Indiana's climate.

3. Yarrow

When it comes to hardiness, few perennials can compete with yarrow. These plants have a robust nature that allows them to thrive in diverse soil types. Whether your garden has clay, loam, or sandy soil, yarrow plants won’t fuss much. They’re all about survival!

The blooming period of yarrow is another noteworthy attribute. Unlike many perennials that bloom for a few weeks, yarrows keep your garden vibrant for an extended period. You can expect to see their clusters of tiny florets from early summer well into fall. What’s more, these flowers come in various shades – from pristine white to bold reds and yellows.

But the charm of yarrow extends beyond its aesthetics. This plant is a superhero in the garden when it comes to natural pest control. Yarrow attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and hoverflies – bugs that feed on common garden pests. So, by including yarrow in your garden, you’re not just adding beauty; you’re setting up an effective line of defense against unwanted pests.

Remember: The key to getting these benefits is meeting the growing requirements of yarrow – full sun exposure and well-drained soil are all they ask!

White yarrow is a drought resistant native wildflower that adds a pop of white color to any landscape.

4. Beardtongue

Beardtongue, or Penstemon digitalis, is a standout native flower, boasting an array of colors and forms that fit seamlessly into various garden styles. From the classic white blooms of ‘Husker Red’ to the deep purples of ‘Dark Towers’, this plant’s versatility is unmatched. Its tubular flowers not only catch the eye but also serve as a bountiful food source for pollinators like hummingbirds and bees.

Why Beardtongue is Perfect for Beginner Gardeners

For those just dipping their toes into gardening, beardtongue is a godsend due to its easy-care nature. Let’s break down what makes it so manageable:

  1. Growing Requirements: Full sun is best, but it tolerates partial shade. It thrives in well-drained soils and is even listed among the top drought-resistant natives which can be a great choice for water-wise gardens.
  2. Bloom Time: From late spring to early summer, you’ll be greeted by its vibrant show.
  3. Appearance: Expect upright stems with lance-shaped leaves and a multitude of flowers perched at the top.

With these simple guidelines, even novice gardeners can enjoy the beauty of beardtongue without much hassle.

The Role of Beardtongue in Your Garden’s Ecosystem

In your garden’s ecosystem, beardtongue plays a pivotal role by sustaining local wildlife with its generous nectar offerings. It stands as an ecological powerhouse, integral to maintaining biodiversity.

The native beardtongue is a beautiful addition to sunny Indiana gardens.

5. Catmint

Get ready to invite a symphony of scent and color to your garden with catmint! These hardy perennials are renowned for their aromatic foliage that carries a refreshing minty fragrance. Imagine walking through your garden and being greeted by a gentle whiff of mint – it’s an experience that truly enriches a sensory garden.

Growing Conditions for Catmint Plants

  • Catmint plants love basking in full sun, but they can also tolerate some shade.
  • They aren’t too fussy about soil types, so you can plant them in average or fertile garden soils.
  • Just ensure the soil drains well, as soggy conditions can lead to root rot.

Pruning Tips for Catmint Plants

When it comes to maintaining catmint’s compact shape, a little pruning goes a long way. After the first flush of blooms fades, cut back the plant by half its height to encourage bushier growth and a second round of flowering.

The Importance of Catmint for Pollinators

But it’s not all about aesthetics and aroma with catmint. These beauties play an essential role in sustaining local pollinators. Bursting into bloom from late spring to early fall, their tiny lavender-blue flowers serve up an abundant supply of nectar that keeps bees and butterflies coming back for more.

By planting catmint, you’ll be doing your part to support these vital creatures while adding charm to your Indiana garden.

Sun gleams off purple catmint blooms in an Indiana backyard.

6. Switchgrass

Meet switchgrass, a native ornamental grass that brings a unique aesthetic to Indiana gardens. Known for its robust nature and graceful, tall blades, switchgrass stands out as a magnificent choice for a sun-loving perennial.

Growing Requirements

So, what are the growing requirements for this hardy plant? Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Sunlight: Switchgrass prefers full sun exposure.
  2. Soil: It’s not picky about soil type – sandy, loamy, or clay soils will do just fine. Make sure the soil is well-drained.

This adaptability makes switchgrass an excellent choice for areas of your garden that other plants might find challenging.

Ecological Benefits

Now, let’s talk about what makes this native grass an ecological superstar! The towering structure of switchgrass clumps doesn’t just add visual interest to your garden – it also serves practical purposes in our local ecosystem:

So, by planting switchgrass, you’re not just beautifying your garden – you’re also creating valuable habitats for our winged and furry friends!

Switchgrass is a native perennial grass that grows naturally in most of the Midwest, including Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

7. Poppy

Poppies are a garden favorite, with their striking, tissue-paper petals capturing the imagination and hearts of many. These blooms hold deep cultural significance, symbolizing peace and remembrance.

Growing Requirements

If you’re thinking of adding poppies to your garden, here’s what you need to know about their growing requirements:

  1. Soil: Poppies flourish in well-drained soil; they’re not fond of wet feet.
  2. Sunlight: A spot with full sun ensures these beauties thrive.


There are different types of poppies that you can choose from to add variety and color to your garden:

  • Oriental Poppy: Known for large, ruffled blooms and a spectrum of colors.
  • Varieties: Indiana gardens often host a range of species, each with unique petals and hues.

Poppies aren’t just pretty faces; they’re vital for ecosystems too. They beckon to pollinators with their abundant pollen, offering a feast for bees and butterflies alike. Their role in supporting these crucial garden visitors is undeniable, making them an excellent choice for a nature-friendly landscape.

Poppies add a pop of vibrant color to full sun gardens in Indiana.

8. Blanket Flower

The Gaillardia, or blanket flower, gets its name from the colorful designs found in Native American blankets. It’s also known as “Indian Blanket” or “Firewheel” because of its vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues.

Key Characteristics and Growing Conditions:

Here are some important things to know if you’re considering planting blanket flowers in your garden:

  • Sunlight: These tough plants need full sun to thrive.
  • Soil: They prefer well-drained soil but aren’t too fussy about fertility.
  • Watering: Once established, blanket flowers can handle drought conditions, which means less work for you.

These beautiful flowers bloom from early summer to fall, providing a long-lasting burst of color in your garden. Their daisy-like petals arranged around a central disk create a feast for pollinators.

Ecosystem Benefits:

Planting blanket flowers offers more than just visual appeal. Here’s how they can benefit your local ecosystem:

  • The nectar and pollen-rich blooms attract bees and butterflies, helping to support these essential pollinators.
  • As native plants, blanket flowers are well-suited to Indiana’s climate and provide food and habitat for native wildlife.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant that adds beauty to your outdoor space while also benefiting the environment, blanket flowers are an excellent choice.

Sun loving and bright colors define the blanket flower of Indiana.

9. False Indigo

False Indigo, a native flower to Indiana, is a showstopper in any sunny garden. This full sun perennial is known for its striking blue flowers and its ability to thrive in our state’s diverse soil conditions.

Growing Conditions for False Indigo

The key to false indigo’s success lies in its growing conditions. This resilient plant isn’t too picky about its surroundings but it does appreciate:

Blooming Period and Appearance

False indigo blooms from late spring through early summer, sporting spikes of deep blue flowers. These blossoms create a striking contrast against the plant’s gray-green foliage, adding visual interest to your Indiana landscape.

Importance of False Indigo in the Ecosystem

But the beauty of false indigo goes beyond its appearance. This native flower plays a crucial role in supporting our local ecosystem:

  • As a legume, it enriches the soil by fixing nitrogen.
  • Its dense growth provides shelter for small wildlife.
  • Its flowers are a pollen and nectar source for native bees and butterflies.

As you can see, incorporating false indigo into your garden not only enhances its beauty but also contributes significantly towards maintaining a healthy environment.

Blue False Indigo Flower

Low-Maintenance Options for Indiana Gardens

Aiming for a carefree garden in the Midwest? Here are some other low-maintenance perennials and shrubs that will thrive in your Indiana garden, in addition to those full-sun plants we’ve explored:

Joe Pye Weed

A towering perennial with pinkish-purple flowers that attract butterflies. It’s an excellent back-of-the-border plant with a strong presence.


Known for its grass-like foliage and clusters of blue, purple, or white flowers. This plant is tolerant of various conditions and requires minimal care.


An easy-to-grow native shrub with appealing foliage, flowers, and bark. It can tolerate drought and poor soil conditions.


This native shrub produces early spring blooms and fall fruits loved by birds. Plus, it offers fantastic fall color!

These plants are not only easy to care for but also contribute valuable elements to your landscape design:

  1. They add textures, colors, and wildlife-friendly features that make your garden more dynamic and ecologically balanced.
  2. While these selections require less effort to maintain, they don’t skimp on beauty or environmental benefits!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Choosing the Right Native Plants for Indiana Soils

Can I plant native full sun perennials in clay soil?

Absolutely! Many native plants thrive in Indiana’s clay-heavy soil. For example, coneflowers and switchgrass are tough and can handle clay with ease. Just ensure good drainage by amending the soil with organic matter.

Maintaining Full Sun Perennials During Summer

How do I keep my full sun perennials healthy in the heat?

Key strategies include:

  • Watering: Aim for deep, infrequent watering to encourage strong root growth.
  • Mulching: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and keep roots cool.

Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Habitat

What can I do to attract more pollinators to my garden?

Incorporate a variety of native plants like beardtongue and catmint. These species offer abundant nectar and cater to different pollinators like bees and butterflies. Remember to plant in clusters and provide a water source for best results.

Create a Thriving Indiana Garden with Full Sun Perennials

Embracing native plants Indiana gardens isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s about cultivating a slice of the local ecosystem right in your backyard. With full sun perennials, you can enjoy vibrant blooms and a garden abuzz with life. These hardy plants are adapted to thrive in Indiana’s unique climate, offering low maintenance beauty that supports local wildlife.

Selection: Choose plants like coneflowers and beardtongue for color and ecological benefits.

When selecting plants for your Indiana garden, opt for full sun perennials that not only add visual appeal but also contribute to the local ecosystem. Here are two excellent choices:

  1. Coneflowers: Known for their daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white, coneflowers are a favorite among pollinators like bees and butterflies. They also produce seeds that attract birds, making them a valuable addition to any garden.
  2. Beardtongue: With their tubular flowers in vibrant hues of red, pink, and blue, beardtongue plants are sure to catch your eye. These beauties are not only attractive to hummingbirds but also provide nectar for other pollinators such as bees and moths.

Growing: Provide the right soil conditions and sunlight for peonies and yarrow to flourish.

To ensure the success of your full sun perennials, pay attention to their specific growing requirements. Here’s how you can help peonies and yarrow thrive:

  1. Peonies: These showstoppers boast large, fragrant flowers in various colors, including shades of pink, red, and white. For optimal growth, plant them in well-draining soil enriched with organic matter. Peonies prefer full sun but can tolerate light shade.
  2. Yarrow: Known for their feathery foliage and clusters of tiny flowers in shades of yellow, pink, and white, yarrow plants are a delightful addition to any garden. They prefer sandy or loamy soil with good drainage and thrive in full sun.

Caring: Maintain your garden with practices that benefit plants and pollinators alike—think mulching and mindful watering.

Taking care of your garden involves more than just regular watering. Here are two essential practices that can make a significant difference:

  1. Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around your plants has multiple benefits. It helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and moderates soil temperature. Use organic mulch like wood chips or straw and spread it evenly around the base of your plants.
  2. Mindful watering: Instead of relying on a fixed schedule, water your plants based on their needs. Check the moisture level of the soil before watering and aim to provide a deep soak rather than light sprinkles. This encourages the development of deep roots, making your plants more resilient to drought conditions.

As you explore this diverse range of native species, from the aromatic catmint to the stately switchgrass, you’re rewarded with more than just a beautiful garden—you’re partaking in the stewardship of Indiana’s natural heritage. Happy planting!

A full sun native perennial garden in Indiana.

Full Sun Native Perennial Garden In Indiana