5 Plants You’ll See Everywhere When You Move to Pittsburgh, PA

Planning a move to Pittsburgh this year? If so, make sure you take the time to research the local flora and fauna. Whether you’re an avid gardener already, or thinking of flexing a rusty green thumb, it’s important to appreciate the beauty of this city’s native plants.

These low-stress and low-maintenance plants can be grown in virtually any location around the city, but do best in areas with minimal pollution from the air and roadways. They also appreciate low-traffic surroundings with plenty of water, sunlight, and aerated soil.

For the best results in your landscaping, choose plants that attract pollinators and other friendly wildlife, such as hummingbirds. Not only does this sort of coordinated planting increase your positive environmental impact, it also provides some easy summertime entertainment.

If you’re looking to add to the landscaping of your new home, consider these five native plants that you’ll likely see everywhere around Pittsburgh.

1. Columbine

  • Scientific name: Aquilegia canadensis
  • Sunlight: Full sunlight
  • Type: Perennial
  • Moisture level: Frequently water, even soils that drain easily
  • Soil type: Acidic
  • Bloom time: Spring and summer
  • Height: 1-2 inches
  • Width: 6 inches to 2 feet
  • Appearance: These have hanging bell-shaped blooms, available in multiple colors, including purple, red, pink, white, orange, yellow, and blue. Plants produce a bluish green foliage.
    Attracts: Birds

If you’re looking for a unique addition to your garden, look no further than Columbine. They come in almost every color, a convenient addition to just about any circle. Because they seed themselves and are fast-growing perennials, they can be found just about anywhere in the Northeast. They are deer-resistant and tend to attract birds. They work well in containers or in rock gardens as border flowers.

2. Butterfly Weed

  • Scientific name: Asclepias tuberosa
  • Sunlight: Full sun
  • Type: Perennial
  • Moisture level: Can tolerate dry conditions
  • Soil type: Prefers neutral soils but will tolerate acidity; fast-draining, gritty soil
  • Bloom time: June through August
  • Height: 24-28 inches
  • Width: 12-18 inches
  • Appearance: This plant produces bright clusters of flowers that are yellow and orange.
  • Attracts: Monarch butterflies and caterpillars, birds, bees

Technically a milkweed, butterfly weed is one of the hardiest flowering plants in the Pittsburgh area. It is cold hardy and easy to grow, performing well even in bone-dry, rocky soils. It provides crucial food for endangered pollinators, such as Monarch butterflies. Like the Columbine, it is also deer resistant.

3. Aromatic Aster

  • Scientific name: Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
  • Sunlight: Full sun
  • Type: Perennial
  • Moisture level: Light to medium amounts of water required (drought-tolerant)
  • Soil type: Sandy or clay soils preferred, though it tolerates any kind of soil
  • Bloom time: August to September
  • Height: 1 to 3 feet
  • Width: 1 to 3 feet
  • Appearance: Produces lustrous blue and purple blooms along a bushy, compact plant with hairy stems
  • Attracts: Birds and butterflies

This plant provides a wonderfully fragrant ground cover and is frequently used as an ornamental species in crowded areas. It grows naturally along slopes and dry open ground, but is easy to cultivate in even the most stubborn of home gardens. Because it is heavily fragranced, it is a nice choice as a cut flower.

4. Dwarf Crested Iris

  • Scientific name: Iris cristata
  • Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Moisture level: Moderate amounts of water required
  • Soil type: Dry soils with neutral acidity
  • Bloom time: April
  • Height: 3 to 6 inches
  • Width: 3 to 12 inches
  • Appearance: Pale purple/blue blooms on tiny green stems
  • Attracts: Bees, hummingbirds

This flower is technically native to Missouri, but it can be found throughout much of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well. It can tolerate both deer and drought, and it grows rapidly. It forms dense clusters under the right conditions, making it a wonderful option for filling in empty spaces in the garden. The Dwarf Crusted Iris gets its name comes from its low, compact growing pattern, but don’t let the name deceive you. This tiny flower will grow and flourish for years once you get it started.

5. Virginia Bluebells

  • Scientific name: Mertensia virginica
  • Sunlight: Part to full shade
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Moisture level: Moderate amounts of water required
  • Soil type: Any
  • Bloom time: March to AprilHeight: Up to 2 feet
  • Width: Up to 1.5 feet
  • Appearance: Clumps of flowers are produced in terminal clusters of pinkish, then blue, shades. Plants also produce smooth, bluish leaves.
  • Attracts: Butterflies, moths

This plant naturally grows in areas that receive ample amounts of rainfall, as well as in floodplains. In Pittsburgh, it makes a great addition to a garden because its foliage is beautiful even when not in bloom. Unlike many native plants, it’s able to tolerate competition with both the needy black walnut tree and with hungry rabbits. Because these plants go dormant in the summer, it is often interseeded with other late-blooming species.

For more information about native plants, gardening, and lawn care in the Pittsburgh area, visit LawnStarter Pittsburgh.