Guide to Native Iowa Plants

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Iowa has a diverse variety of native plants that grow throughout the state. There are many protected native prairie areas where the names of the native plants are posted for visitors to learn about their history. Many of the native plants may be purchased for use in a home flower garden.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a great perennial that thrives best in a well-drained shady location.

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) – image by

The flower is green hooded and reveals a little Jack that pokes out against a rusty red “pulpit” or inside. Depending on the moisture throughout the summer, clusters of bright red berries may appear in the fall.

jack in the pulpit arisaema triphyllum berries
Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) berries – image by

Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants will grow up to 2 feet tall. They may be grown in other states besides Iowa. The flowers will grow in zones 4 to 9.

Native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) produces a dainty red and yellow spurred flowers.

Native Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) – image by

Butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to this plant because of the color of the flowers. Columbine is an adaptable and hardy plant. It grows well in either the sun or shade. The plant does prefer well-drained soil. The Columbine will grow to be up to 2 feet tall. The plant will thrive well in zones 3 to 8.

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The Columbine will grow to be up to 2 feet tall – image by

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) is a fall blooming flower. It bears flowers that are fluffy clusters of golden-yellow. A special breed of the Goldenrod is ‘Fireworks’. They are called this because of the shape of the blooms. Goldenrod enjoys full sun with well-drained soil.

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) – image by

The flower variety grows up to 4 feet tall. Goldenrod may be grown in zones 4 to 8.

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) enjoys it’s place in Iowa and looks fantastic in flower gardens. The plant grows up to 5 feet tall in full sun. The soil should be moist to average and never dry. Butterflies enjoy the pink flowers that appear in mid-summer.

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Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – image by

Monarch butterflies especially enjoy Swamp Milkweed. This plant will grow in zones 3 to 8.

Wild Anemone (Anemone canadensis) is an easy to grow native Iowa plant. The large white flowers bloom during the spring and are a wonderful spring border. This ground cover grows up to 2 feet tall. The flowers flourish in partial sun to full shade. The Wild Anemone prefers well-drained moist soils full of organic nutrients. The will grow in zones 3 to 9.

Wild Anemone (Anemone canadensis) – image by

Iowa has many native plants including the State flower – the Wild Rose. For a complete list of native Iowa plants go to The website includes information on the Genus, species, common name, nativity, invasive orientation, problems and comments.


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