What Plants Can I Grow in Philadelphia?

By: Lively Root
October 16, 2021
What Plants Can I Grow in Philadelphia?
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Which Plants Can I Grow in Philadelphia?


A city with some of America's most significant pieces of history, Philadelphia is also the largest city in Pennsylvania. Home of the Liberty Bell and the very place where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, there is so much culture and history to be found here! Also, who could overlook the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the triumphant statue of Rocky at the top? Such a pose of victory might be in your future if you're looking to garden in this region, as Philadelphia is an excellent area for growing! Fruit, warm and cold season veggies, flowers, herbs, and more all thrive here, so let's take a closer look at all the possibilities for success for your garden: 



Which Plants Grow Well in Philadelphia?


There's so much to Philadelphia that makes this city unique, and that extends to the vast array of plants that can grow in this region. So many types of plants grow and flourish here, and one need look no further than one of the local parks or gardens of the city to see this growth in action. Take some inspiration from something native, then bask in the joy of knowing your growing season will be far more manageable here than in many other cities with plants suited to both colder and warmer months. Visiting a local nursery is another great way to learn more about what grows locally and what options may be best for your yard! Stay on top of any unseasonable extremes, and you're guaranteed to have success in Philadelphia! Here are a few plants to get you started:



Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): This plant grows beautiful bunches of small, pink to purple flowers that stand at the top of their stem. These perennial flowers are a stunning addition to your garden, but they have a more crucial purpose. Milkweed varieties are the only plant that Monarch butterflies use to feed their larva, making them an essential part of protecting their habitats! Growing Milkweed not only is a great idea for adding beauty to your space but can help the local pollinators thrive as well!



Small Sundrops (Oenothera perennis): A perennial wildflower, this plant has delicate yellow flowers that are beautiful and long-blooming. Also known as the Little Evening-primrose, this plant is fantastic for areas where you want some ornamental groundcover. These plants like sunny areas and prefer moist, loamy soils. They also attract hummingbirds!





English Ivy Gold Child (Hedera Helix 'Variegata'): Green leaves ringed in white and bearing a unique, star-like shape distinguish this plant's uniqueness. That, and the fact that it loves to climb quickly with vibrant growth, sometimes up to heights of 10 feet! It prefers morning sun and then dappled shade for the rest of the day, be sure to bring it indoors if temperatures drop below 35°F, then keep it in medium, indirect light if that's the case. English Ivy Glacier and English Ivy Green Ideal: Both of these variants love climbing as much as their Gold Child relative but are distinct in their own right with beautiful patterns and vibes of their own. Put them near railings, trellises, or lattices for their full effect!



Cold season vegetables are a perfect choice for any gardener in the city of brotherly love, as any number of them are perfectly suited to Philadelphia conditions. Here are a few you can plant as early as February: 


  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Celery



Like their cold-loving relatives, warm season vegetables are just as eager to grow and thrive in the Philadelphia climate. These varieties are even more adapted to the Philly environment with their ability to endure longer, hotter summers that would make other plants wither. And if things get too extreme in either heat or dryness, drip irrigation and shade cloth will secure a healthy environment for your plants. Try a few of these in your garden and see for yourself:


  • Peppers (Hot and Sweet)
  • Eggplants
  • Squash
  • Rhubarb
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus



Best Landscaping Plants in Philadelphia


Philadelphia is great for outdoor gardeners with ample options for landscaping plants that will thrive in the region. Look to your local parks and gardens for some insight and inspiration! Learning from the plants already flourishing in the area is a great way to prepare for your own growing season as well as make your gardening life that much easier in terms of maintenance. Here are a few to get you started:


Italian Jasmine (Jasminum Humile): This plant bears lush, evergreen vines that come with lovely, yellow blooms along the length of its climbing vines. Sure to add dimension to your garden, use it on ladders, railings, patios, and more to showcase its full splendor!





Canna Lily (Canna Indica): Known for its colorful bulbs and its ability to grow into a wide array of beautiful blooms and colors, this plant is also readily sought after for its resilience. Able to easily withstand lifting in the event overwintering is needed, it's also capable of enduring prolonged periods of cold with ease! If it does become necessary to bring it inside, just be sure to replant after the last frost.



There are many local native trees and shrubs that are also great for landscaping, such as the Red Maple, Serviceberries, Easter Red-Cedar, Blackhaw, River Birch, Wild Hydrangea, and Witch-Hazel! Visit your local nursery to find what plants and trees may take best to your individual yard and to source plants that will benefit your community!



Which Plants are Native to Philadelphia?


If you're looking for a great way to play a more active part in preserving your local ecosystem, you can't go wrong by utilizing native plants in your home and garden. Not only do these plants provide reliable food and sustainable habitats for the local wildlife, but they're also the most suited to preventing soil erosion with their adapted roots. Take this encouragement of local growth a step further by checking to see if you can plant any endangered plant species that might be in your area! As previously stated, check in with your local nursery to ensure you pick the right plants for your area. In the meantime, here are a few to consider:



Tulip trees (liriodendron tulipifera): This plant, as the name suggests, eventually grows beautiful blooms resembling tulip flowers that come in a lovely, yellow shade. A great food source for birds and pollinating insects, its bright green leaves also turn yellow in the fall. Its stems emit a soft, floral scent in spring in summer too!



Winterberry (Ilex verticillata): So named for the large clusters of red and orange berries this plant grows and keeps well into the winter months. It is also a great source of food for a number of birds who perch on its branches for a berry feast! Its leaves change color and shed with the seasons, bringing beautiful variety and character to your garden.




Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum): This delicate fern thrives in the shadier parts of your yard, such as your patio! These pretty plants are great for anyone looking to add greenery to their spaces. Ensure these plants get plenty of moisture and humidity to keep them happy, and they will brighten up any space you put them in!



Other Plants that Grow Best in Philadelphia


Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius): Producing pinkish-white blooms from May through July, this plant's papery bark also peels and showcases a coppery color in autumn. Leaves come in a variety of green, yellow, and sometimes red as the cascading clusters of florets grow. Its blooms in late spring will attract all manner of pollinators to your garden as well! 



Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): Perfect for bordering, hedges, and more, this fragrant plant also handles shade quite well, all while supporting pollinating insects with its white and pink flowers that emit a spicy scent in August. Plant in moist soil in areas of full sun to partial shade!



Philadelphia Gardening Tips


Getting acclimated with the upcoming growing season isn't just a regional affair, and by consulting your local Farmer's Almanac or similar resource, you'll be able to take full advantage of everything Philadelphia has to offer! Stay on top of any uncharacteristic disparities, and prepare accordingly for your season, as planting too early or too late can result in frozen plants. Cold frames, raised beds, and mulch are great solutions to colder temperatures, where drip irrigation and shade cloth are perfect for the warmer months if needed.


When Should I Plant My Garden in Philadelphia?


Landing in Zone 7 of the USDA Hardiness scale, Philadelphia gives you the opportunity to start growing as early as February! You can start seedlings indoors at this time, and April is a perfect month for perennials so long as you stay on top of any sporadic frosts that vary from region to region. 



Planting in Zone USDA Zone 7a and 7b


Like all other zones, Zone 7 has two subzones, 7a and 7b. Their average, winter temperature range categorizes both. 7a has a range of 0°F to 5°F, and 7b a range of 5°F to 10°F. This margin makes Zone 7 great for perennials with their ability to withstand winter months just as well as hotter summer ones. Temperature extremes, while rare, should be accounted for in this region, but overall, are the exception to the rule of what makes Zone 7 so great for growing!