Which Plants Can I Grow in Columbus?
Capital city of Ohio, Columbus is renowned for its history and rich culture. Art takes on several forms here, not just confined to the Columbus Art Museum, but openly on display in its architecture and the banks of Scioto River, granting us the majestic Scioto Mile. This park shows just how bountiful your growing season can be in Columbus, something especially important to the aspiring gardener! Let's take a closer look at why flowers, veggies, fruits, and a variety of other plants thrive in this accommodating climate and city:
Which Plants Grow Well in Columbus?
It should be noted from the onset that Columbus can get quite cold, which means your winter planting options are a little more limited. However, your spring and summer provide perfect weather conditions and offer a robust variety of plants for you to enjoy with more than enough time to see them through to their full potential. Just take a look at the aforementioned Scioto Mile for any inspiration to see what plants are already thriving in the area, and take note of how to manage more extreme conditions from already established gardens or landscaping areas. Here are just a plants few proven to flourish in Columbus:
English Ivy Gold Child (Hedera helix 'Variegata'): With lush, green vines that produce unique, star-shaped leaves ringed in white, this plant will also climb to great heights to showcase its full beauty. English Ivy is known to grow up to 10 feet easily! Perfect for hanging baskets, it thrives best in the morning sun, then dappling shade throughout the rest of the day. If things drop below 35°F, be sure to bring it inside! English Ivy Glacier and English Ivy Green Ideal are two relatives of English Ivy, both with unique vibes and patterns of their own with a common affinity for climbing as high as they can. Use them on patios, railings, or lattices!
Hostas (Hosta Spp.): Embodying the definition of "low-maintenance," these plants will weather some of the harshest conditions. They prefer shady areas and thrive when planted in spring with pruning during colder seasons. There are many varieties of Hosta, meaning lots of colors to choose from! With anything from brighter lime green to shades of pinks and blues, they flower in the summer, bringing a beautiful pop to your spaces while also being great for pollinators.
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus): These plants are sure to bring vibrant bursts of color to your garden and are just as hardy as perennials, making them an excellent option for any Columbus gardener. They're fragrant, come in a wide variety of colors from white to blue, and can even reach heights of up to 10 feet! Plant in full sun, and these plants will reward you with fantastic scenery throughout the year!
When April rolls around, it's a great time to get planting veggies. Start indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost, then move them outside when things warm up. By giving them a head start, you can then enjoy the harvest of several plants, including:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Bush Beans
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butter Lettuce
Best Landscaping Plants in Columbus?
A unique challenge to gardeners in Columbus is finding landscaping plants that can endure the harsher freezes of the area, making it all the more important to pick the right ones for your yard. It's never a bad idea to look to native species in your area, and be sure to double-check your area's soil composition to ensure the best results. Once you've done that, here are a few to give you some inspiration:
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum): With lovely, albeit delicate fronds of lovely green, this plant is a great way to keep a lush vibe for your garden year-round. It thrives best in moist soil and high humidity, and can even survive in temperatures of down to -10°F!
Delphinium (Delphinium): These flowers are a great way to add a wealth of colors to your garden. Summer blooms will yield blues, purples, and whites! They prefer light shade, but with over 250 species for you to pick from, you're all but guaranteed to find a variety that'll thrive whatever your local conditions!
Astilbe (Astilbe chinensis): A beautiful, pink perennial, this one loves shade and moisture and will add wonderful color to your garden with its tall flowers that proudly exhibit pink, lavender, red, and white! What's more, its elegant and fern-like base will provide lush green all the way to winter. They're a favorite of butterflies and other pollinators.
A variety of fruit trees are also available for your landscaping ambitions, all of which handle the cold with ease. Check in with your local nursery to see what may work best, but some of these trees are proven to handle the colder climates:
- Asian Pear Trees (Shinseiki, Seuri)
- Nectar and Candor Peach Trees
- Bosc Pear Trees
- Honeycrisp and Gala Apple Trees
- Sweetheart and Stella Cherry Trees
Which Plants Are Native to Columbus?
Going with native plants for your yard or garden is a great option for any gardener. Not only does it make your life easier maintaining and nurturing plants that are already mostly self-sufficient, but it's a great boost to the local ecosystem. Birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators all need these plants for reliable food sources and habitats, and native plants are also best suited to prevent erosion with their adapted roots! Also, consider helping out any endangered species in your area that could use a few more of their number planted. Talking with your local nursery is the best way to ensure that the plants you are picking are truly native and hardy to your space, but here are a few common native plants to Columbus:
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma): With late summer blooms, these flowers are perfect for borders around your garden, and their bright, purple coloring will definitely add vibrance! A favorite of butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, these resilient plants prefer full to partial sun, can grow up to 4 feet tall, and are even resistant to pests in the area!
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): Easy to grow and maintain, Black-eyed Susans thrive best in full to partial sun in well-draining soil. A beautiful perennial with vivid, yellow flowers reminiscent of daisies, look for this native wildflower in open woods, prairies, and fields. What's more, it's widely seen because it thrives in many climates, making this a low-maintenance and still beautiful option for your garden.
Blue Flag (Iris versicolor): Striking blue-violet flowers set this local plant apart in its beauty, which you can look for in late spring and early summer. Found in wetland areas or places where the soil is moist, they're very hardy, well-suited to the area, and a great food source for pollinators. Be sure to plant in full to partial sunlight for best results, and be ready for the gratitude of bees!
Other Plants That Grow Well in Columbus?
Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata): Seen across many areas of North America, it consists of grass-line leaves complete with a lovely flower cluster. Coming in shades of purple and white, its feathered petals give it a unique character, lending a nice variety to your garden.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium): Bright pink petals and lush leaves start blooming in June on this one, and with red stems, it has quite the color variety to offer your garden. It can grow up to 5 feet tall in a hurry, so watching this one and making sure it doesn't choke out other plants is advised!
Columbus Gardening Tips
Something any gardener in Columbus has to consider is the colder winters. Not necessarily a detriment, if you're conscious of the conditions, it means you can navigate the first and last frost of the year to tremendous results! Plus, springs and summers are more than long enough here to accommodate a wide variety of plants for your gardening aspirations. It's never a bad idea to consult your local Farmer's Almanac or similar resource to stay on top of the weather, especially if mulch is needed to protect any perennials you've planted. Consider overwintering as needed, and raised beds and cold frames will keep your plants happy and healthy when temperatures start to drop.
When Should I Plant My Garden in Columbus?
Columbus falls in Zone 6a of the USDA Hardiness scale, and here, paying attention to your first and last frost dates is essential. Often the first frost is sometime in November, and the last falls closer to the end of April or early May. However, this will vary, so be sure to stay on top of your local conditions to protect your plants and get your timing right!
Planting in Zone 6a
Divided into two subzones, Zone 6 consists of Zones 6a and 6b, respectively. Each Zone is differentiated by their average winter temperature range. 6a has a range -10 to -5°F, and Zone 6b has a range of -5 to 0°F. Annuals are often planted in this area, and practices like overwintering can help plants survive the harshest cold while providing accessibility to a wider variety of plants. Mulching and cold boxing also can come into play to protect your plants! Be aware that many plants won't survive the below-freezing temperatures of this zone without your help.