Which plants can I grow in Washington D.C.?
This city is our nation's capital and so much more! History and tradition come alive in Washington D.C with sites that invoke zeal and reverence. Moving monuments, vivid gardens, and crucial historical sites are all around this city, along with a vibrant culture of trendy music and art, including the Kennedy Center's iconic stages. What's more, the hospitable climate of the area makes the scenery come alive with lush greenery and blooming flowers, making Washington D.C a veritable paradise for any aspiring gardener. If you're looking to make your growing season all it can be this year, you've come to the right place! Fruit, veggies, flowers, and so much more all thrive in this area, and here's some info that will make sure you have the garden of your dreams:
Which Plants Grow Well in Washington D.C.?
Washington D.C.'s amiable climate is perfect for a wide variety of plants, and you'll have no shortage of options. Somewhere that's always reliable for inspiration and insight is the equally abundant gardens, nurseries, and landscapes of the city as well, all filled with a wide variety of flowers and landscaping plants that have proven to be well-adapted to the area. Learn from them to see how you can grow the perfect garden with minimal maintenance in the native soil! Just be sure to stay on top of any unseasonal frosts or heat waves, which are quite manageable in this region. Even things like overwintering are that much more straightforward given how pleasant the area is. Here are a few plants to get you started:
Milkweed (Asclepias): With many varieties, such as the Common Milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed, and Swamp Milkweed, there are many options when trying to pick a type for your yard! Milkweed is a crucial plant for the Monarch Butterfly, which depends on it for food for its larva. To create a beautiful garden that supports an at-need pollinator! The blooms on this plant are a deep pink or purple, also adding beauty to your garden spaces!
English Ivy Gold Child (Hedera helix 'Variegata'): Unique, star-shaped leaves that are green and ringed in white make this a striking addition to any garden. Adding to this is the plant's unique ability to climb, sometimes up to heights of 10 feet, making it perfect for trellising, railings, or lattices. Morning sun and then dappled shade for the rest of the day will bring the best results, and be sure to bring it inside if temperatures drop below 35°F, keeping it in medium indirect light if that's the case. English Ivy Glacier and English Ivy Green Ideal are two cousins of English Ivy Gold Child that like climbing just as much, and both variants come with as much beauty while having unique vibes and patterns of their own. Use them on railings or patios to add a lovely dimension to your garden!
English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): A flowering herb that's a staple of baking, tea, and in potpourri for its lovely, floral aroma, English Lavender thrives quite well in Washington D.C, growing up to heights of 3 feet with beautiful, purple blooms in late spring. The shade of green its leaves adopt will depend on how low temperatures drop in your growing season, bringing lots of character to your garden!
If cold season vegetables are what you're hoping for, you're in the perfect spot to reap a bountiful harvest! Washington D.C can accommodate a number of delicious veggies that you can plant when February rolls around, and here are a few you can try this growing season:
- Swiss Chard
Warm season vegetables do just as well in Washington D.C, uniquely suited to the area with their ability to withstand hotter, drier summers that would wither other plants. If such temperatures do arise, drip irrigation and shade cloth will ensure your plants stay safe and healthy. Here are a few to try in your garden:
- Peppers (Hot and Sweet)
Best Landscaping Plants in Washington D.C.
A wide variety of plants that are well-suited to surviving both the hotter and colder months are proudly showcased at any number of local parks, memorials, and gardens in Washington D.C, and it's never a bad idea to learn from what's already proven to thrive. Factors like native soil and watering requirements are easily discerned from such plants, making your gardening life that much easier. Here are just a few that are perfect for your landscaping plans:
Canna Lily (Canna indica): A small, colorful bulb is the start of what becomes a lovely, blooming flower available in a robust variety of beautiful colors. Best of all, this plant is quite the tough cookie! Able to easily withstand lifting in case overwintering is needed, extreme measures are rarely required as they are more than capable of handling most winter months. However, should things get too cold and overwintering is necessary, be sure to replant after the last frost.
Italian Jasmine (Jasminum humile): With yellow, blooming flowers and lush vines of evergreen, this climbing plant will add lovely dimension to your garden, perfect for decoration and creative flair. Let it climb ladders, lattices, or railings for its full effect, where it's suited to grow year-round.
Which Plants are Native to Washington D.C.?
Going with native plants for your garden is a great way to ensure the best results. As mentioned, any of these plants can easily thrive in the native soil and weather conditions. This hardiness means a lot less work for you and welcomes additions to the local ecosystem that provide reliable food and habitats for many birds and pollinating insects. Not only that, but native plants are the best at preventing soil erosion, and if you can plant any endangered varieties that might be native, you'll also be restoring a crucial part of the environment. Nurseries are your biggest ally when looking for local varieties, and we highly suggest consulting them as you get picking. Here's a few ideas to give you inspiration:
Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata): Seen in many parts of the United States, this plant loses its leaves every fall and leaves behind clusters of bright red berries that are a great food source for the birds who love perching on its branches. The Winterberry Holly is a great way to add a bright burst of color anywhere you plant it, while also helping out the local wildlife in the process!
Columbine (Aquilegia): Bell-shaped flowers come in a wide variety of colors with this plant, and all are a favorite of hummingbirds and bees. If given appropriate space to thrive, this plant will grow quickly, doing best in moist, well-draining soil. Plant in early spring to mid-summer with full sun. Just make sure things don't get too hot for this more heat-sensitive plant!
Other Plants that Grow Best in Washington D.C.
Blue Violets (Viola sororia): Blooming blue or purplish-blue in color with a preference for moisture-retentive soils, this plant will add lovely hues to your garden when warmer weather comes around. Pest and weather-resistant, these plants are extremely hardy! Be sure to plant them in the fall season in areas of full sun to partial shade.
Goldenrod (Solidago): Where it's easy to mistake these plants for weeds given their penchant for growing along highways, these fluffy, yellow plants provide vivid color in their own right and offer abundant nectar for migrating butterflies and pollinating insects. They'll also keep bugs away from your vegetable gardens with their ability to attract and do well in well-draining soil with lots of direct sunlight.
Maidenhair Fern (Adianthum aethiopicum): Looking for a delicate addition to your yard? The Maidenhair Fern is a great choice that thrives in shady areas, but needs a bit of extra love when it comes to staying moist and humid. This plant works great on the patio, and is extremely hardy to cold temperatures.
Washington D.C. Gardening Tips
Coming equipped with a wide variety of plants adapted to flourish in warmer summer and colder winter months, it's still a good idea to prepare for any eventualities that might arise by consulting your local Farmer's Almanac or similar resource for the region. Planting too early or too late can result in frozen plants, but mulching, cold boxing, or raised beds will secure safety for your plants. Drip irrigation and shade cloth will provide the same protection and insurance when things get too hot and dry.
When Should I Plant My Garden in Washington D.C.?
Landing in Zone 7a of the USDA Hardiness scale, Washington D.C affords you ample opportunity for growing, where you can plant as early as February! You can also start seedlings indoors around this time. When April rolls around, it's the perfect month for annuals. Just be sure to check your area specifically since frost will vary by region.
Planting in Zone USDA Zone 7a
Zone 7 is split into two subzones, 7a and 7b, respectively. Their average winter temperature range is what sets them apart. 7a has a range of 0°F to 5°F, and 7b a range of 5°F to 10°F. With Washington D.C. being in Zone 7a, overwintering takes on a larger role in this region, and perennials are a great choice with their ability to endure harsher, colder months. Cold boxing and mulching will be an easy remedy for any significant dips in temperature, but such conditions are rare in the hospitable climate of Zone 7!