Shrubs and Vines



One of the more important components of all habitat types in Illinois that seems to be overlooked. Shrubs are not only found in every habitat but seem to play a very important role in stabilizing these areas for other species, from Rosa carolinia in sandy areas to Spiraea alba in sedge glades offer spots that allow young plants to get a foothold in areas where they might otherwise be choked out. These species also give cover to some of our more reclusive fauna and insects. Locally, you are looking at 80 plus species of woody native shrubs and many are declining in areas where urbanization has reshaped land and then planted with species that don’t belong there. Many of these species can be utilized by those interested in planting for beauty and environmental improvement. Remember there a native species for any landscape use as long as you plant it in its proper place.

Tips on planting native shrubs

• Know your site. Plant shrubs that like sun and dry soils in areas that are sunny and drier. It is important to match the plant to the site and not the other way round.

• Shrubs in ideal conditions will tend to get bigger than you might expect. So a 5’ shrub may get to be 7’. It also means that there are no magic sizes that plants “won’t get bigger than”.

• Spacing is not a reality of plants. So planting 2’ or 20’ apart is ok, plants will work it out. However, examining the size of the plants being planted is important during the planning of your garden.

• All natives are good for wildlife habitat. Bird, mammals, bees, and butterflies may all have different needs but they overlap when it comes to food and cover.

• Watering is important for the first season after planting. Be sure to be on top of the water during this time so the plant can get its roots out to support itself.

• There is a native species for every landscape use. 


 Vines may be the most under-used plants in landscapes. Vines can be a versatile addition to any yard but are especially good in small lots and yards where there is little room for larger plants. Using vines to cover vertical space, like walls, trellises and fences can add dimension to the yard and take up very little yard space. We believe that combining several species on a single surface gives the best results. By combining them, you can lengthen bloom times and vary textures, making for a more interesting planting. Keep in mind that vines grow at different rates, and some may grow slower than desired. We suggest planting annual vines for the first few years until better coverage by the woody vine is achieved.