Top 7 Native Shrubs To Plant In Traverse City

Top 7 Native Shrubs To Plant In Traverse City

Native Shrubs For The Traverse City Region

The Traverse City region is a haven for growing many types of plants. Its lake effect climate provides protection from ultra-harsh winters while encouraging ample precipitation for growing plants. The region also boasts fertile soil that is sandy, enabling young plants to easily take root.

Traverse City is also home to a plethora of beautiful native plants. These plants play an essential role in the region’s ecosystem. In this article, we’ll talk about the top native shrubs to plant in this region, and what makes them especially well suited to our climate.

(Featured Image: Summer Wine Ninebark by McAli)

What Is A Native Shrub?

A native shrub is a woody plant species that is naturally found in a particular region or ecosystem and has evolved there over a long period of time. Native shrubs are an important component of the local ecology because they provide food and habitat for native wildlife and insects, help prevent erosion, and maintain soil health. 

Native shrubs are also adapted to the local climate, soil, and environmental conditions, which means they are often more resilient and better able to withstand pests, diseases, and weather extremes than non-native species.

What Makes The Traverse City Region A Great Place To Grow Plants?

The Traverse City region is located in the northern part of Michigan, and it has a unique climate and geography that make it well-suited for a variety of plants. Here are some factors that contribute to the region’s plant-friendliness:

  1. Climate: Traverse City has a humid continental climate, which means it experiences hot summers and cold winters with moderate precipitation throughout the year. This climate is ideal for many plants, including fruit trees, berry bushes, and ornamental shrubs.
  2. Soil: The soil in the Traverse City region is generally fertile and well-drained, with a mix of sandy and loamy textures. This type of soil is ideal for many plants because it allows for good root growth and water absorption.
  3. Topography: The region is characterized by rolling hills and glacial lakes, which create a diverse range of microclimates and habitats for plants. This topography also allows for good drainage and airflow, which can help prevent diseases and pests.
  4. Proximity to water: Traverse City is located near the shores of Lake Michigan, which provides a moderating effect on the climate and helps regulate temperature and humidity levels. The nearby lakes and rivers also provide a source of water for plants and create important habitat for aquatic and semi-aquatic species.
  5. Biodiversity: The Traverse City region has a rich diversity of plant species, including many native species that are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. This diversity creates a complex web of ecological relationships and provides important food and habitat for wildlife.

Overall, the Traverse City region’s climate, soil, topography, water resources, and biodiversity all contribute to its suitability for a wide variety of plants.

Top 7 Shrubs To Plant In The Traverse City Region

1. Red Osier Dogwood | Cornus sericea

Red Osier Dogwood is a multi-stemmed shrub that grows up to 10 feet tall and prefers moist to wet soils. It tolerates full sun to partial shade and can be planted in a range of soil types.

In addition to its showy red stems, it produces clusters of small white flowers in the spring and white berries in the fall that are eaten by birds. Red Osier Dogwood provides habitat for wildlife, stabilizes soil along waterways, and is an important food source for many insects.

A red osier dogwood with blue berries and bright green foliage. This native shrub grows well in Traverse City, Michigan.

Red Osier Dogwood by J. Mayer

2. Nannyberry | Viburnum lentago

Nannyberry is a large, upright shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and partial shade, but can also tolerate full sun. In the spring, it produces clusters of white flowers followed by blue-black berries in the fall that are a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife.

Nannyberry is a great choice for landscaping because it grows densely and can provide great privacy. This shrub can also be easily pruned into a small hedge or tree form.

White blooms top a nannyberry shrub. This native shrub can grow large in Traverse City, Michigan.

Nannyberry Flowers by W. Smith

3. American Hazelnut | Corylus americana

American Hazelnut is a small, multi-stemmed shrub that grows up to 12 feet tall. It prefers well-drained soils and partial shade, but can also tolerate full sun. In the spring, it produces yellow catkins followed by edible nuts in the fall that are a food source for wildlife and humans alike.

American Hazelnut is a good choice for landscaping because it is low maintenance and can be used in hedges or as a focal point for visual interest. Edible plants can be a great addition to any landscape.

An american hazelnut shrub growing in the native range of Traverse City, Michigan.

American Hazelnut by D. McGrady

4. Serviceberry | Amelanchier canadensis

Serviceberry is a small, multi-stemmed tree or large shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall. It prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. In the spring, it produces clusters of white flowers followed by edible berries in the summer that are eaten by birds and mammals.

Serviceberry is a popular landscaping choice because of its attractive flowers and wildlife value. This shrub is also commonly planted for its beautiful and vibrant fall colors.

Serviceberry Blossoms by D. Jarvis

5. Smooth Sumac | Rhus glabra

Smooth Sumac is a large, spreading shrub that can grow up to 15 feet tall. It prefers dry, well-drained soils and full sun. In the fall, it produces clusters of red berries that are eaten by birds and other wildlife.

It is common to see this native shrub growing along the side of roads and farm fields in Northern Michigan. Smooth Sumac is a great choice for stabilizing soil on slopes and can also be used in naturalistic plantings.

Smooth sumac is native to northern Michigan and the surrounding regions.

Smooth Sumac by M. McMasters

6. Black Chokeberry | Aronia melanocarpa

Black Chokeberry is a multi-stemmed shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. In the spring, it produces clusters of white flowers followed by dark purple-black berries in the fall that are high in antioxidants and are eaten by birds and mammals.

Black Chokeberry is a good choice for landscaping because of its attractive flowers and vibrant fall colors. Berries in the fall also attract many types of native birds and small mammals, adding year-round interest to your yard.

Traverse City native shrub called black chokeberry with beautiful white flowers.

Black Chokeberry by Dough McGrady

7. Winterberry | Ilex verticillata

Winterberry is a large, multi-stemmed shrub that can grow up to 12 feet tall. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. In the fall, it produces clusters of bright red berries that persist into the winter and are eaten by birds.

This native shrub is an excellent alternative to Japanese barberry, which is commonly planted for its red berries in the fall. Winterberry is a great choice for wetland restoration projects and can also be used in naturalistic plantings.

Winterberry with bright red berries as a native plant in Traverse City, Michigan.

Winterberry by D. Stang

The Importance Of Planting Native Plants

Native plants are important for a variety of reasons, including their ecological, low-maintenance, and economic benefits. Here are some reasons why native plants are so valuable:

  1. Biodiversity: Native plants are an important part of the local ecosystem, providing food and habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including birds, insects, and mammals. They also play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity, which is essential for a healthy and resilient ecosystem.
  2. Adaptation: Native plants are adapted to the local climate, soil, and environmental conditions, which means they are often more resilient and better able to withstand pests, diseases, and weather extremes than non-native species. This can reduce the need for pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that can harm the environment.
  3. Soil health: Native plants have deep root systems that help prevent erosion and promote soil health by increasing soil organic matter, improving soil structure, and enhancing nutrient cycling.
  4. Low-Maintenance: Native plants require less maintenance overall than non-native species. Since they have adapted specifically to live in our region, there is much you need to do to keep them happy and thriving. Once they are established in their first year, native shrubs will return year after year with very little upkeep.
  5. Economic benefits: Native plants can provide economic benefits through their use in landscaping, restoration, and other industries. They are also important for ecotourism, as they attract visitors who are interested in experiencing local flora and fauna.

Overall, native plants are essential for maintaining healthy and resilient ecosystems and promoting sustainable economic development. Through planting and protecting native plant species, we can help protect biodiversity, support local communities, and ensure a healthy and sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

Shop Native Plants For The Traverse City Area

Bright Lane Gardens is a one-of-a-kind boutique plant nursery that specializes in native plants, berry bushes, and fruit trees. Located just 20 minutes west of Traverse City in the small village of Lake Ann, Bright Lane Gardens is focused on serving the local population with a unique selection of plants complete with the knowledge you need to successfully grow them.

The nursery at Bright Lane Gardens, plant nursery Traverse City.