7 Best Plants to Grow in Tennessee for Your Home Garden

Best Plants to Grow in Tennessee

Choosing the best plants to grow in Tennessee is essential for thriving gardens and landscapes. With its diverse climate and soil conditions, selecting the right plants ensures they can withstand Tennessee’s hot summers, cold winters, and occasional droughts.

By carefully choosing plants suited to the region’s unique environment, gardeners can enjoy healthier growth, vibrant blooms, and minimal maintenance, ultimately creating beautiful and sustainable outdoor spaces.

Best Plants to Grow in Tennessee

1. American Beauty Berry

tennessee native wildflowers

Callicarpa americana (American beauty berry) is an open-habit, native shrub of the Southern United States that is often grown as an ornamental in gardens and yards. American beautyberries produce large clusters of purple berries, which birds and deer eat, thus distributing the seeds.

Decomposing Wood for Plants

Grow in full sun to part shade – will grow in shade, but flower and berry production will be sparse. The secret to growing beauty berries is planting in moist but well-drained soil, as plants suffer when exposed to soil that stays too wet.

American beautyberry is one of the latest native shrubs to leaf out in the spring. The roots and berries have been used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The crushed leaves have been used as a mosquito and biting insect repellent to treat dizziness, stomachache, and dysentery.

2. Bees Balm

flowers in tennessee

With showy summer-blooming white flowers, this plant is often used as a honey plant, medicinal plant, and garden ornamental. Bee balm performs best in full sun (at least 6 hours). It will grow in partial shade but won’t flower as well and is more susceptible to powdery mildew. Provide moist, well-draining soil with a neutral pH.

If necessary, amend the soil with compost or aged manure. This product is used to treat minor aches and pains of the muscles and joints (such as arthritis, backache, and sprains). Menthol and methyl salicylate are known as counterirritants. They work by causing the skin to feel cool and then warm.

3. Butterfly Weed

native plants of tennessee

These plants support the Monarch butterfly, whose caterpillars strictly feed on milkweed foliage. Butterfly weed needs full sun to thrive and bloom. Although it prefers sandy soil, butterfly weed grows in almost any type of soil, including gravel or clay, as long as it is well-drained.

Once established, butterfly weed is very drought tolerant. It is valuable and versatile. The roots are used as a cure for pleurisy and pulmonary ailments. The fibers from the dry stems are used for building twine, and the flowers can be crushed up and mixed with oils to put on bruises and cuts to promote quicker healing.

4. Black Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susans symbolize justice. For the best flowers, plant them in full sun. They prefer moist to dry, well-draining soils and are equally at home in loam, clay, and sandy soils—any soil that isn’t consistently soggy. These plants are good for butterfly gardens, beds, borders, mass plantings, and containers.

In some Native American herbal medicines, black-eyed susan roots has been used to treat cold, dropsy, and worms in children. This mixture has also been used for sores and snake bites, while the liquid within the roots has been used as earache drops.

5. Christmas Fern

native plants of tennessee

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern) is an evergreen fern native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota and south to Florida and eastern Texas. It is one of the most common ferns in this region, and it is found in a wide variety of habitats and locations. Christmas fern is very easy to establish and grow where conditions are right. It requires cool, moist, well-drained soil in shade.

It can be a good evergreen border or accent plant in the right spot. They have been used to treat fever, pneumonia, stomach problems, rheumatism, and a blood purifier. They are often made into medicinal tea, and the young fronds can be eaten when they are cooked. Christmas ferns help prevent erosion.

6. Dutchman’s Pipe

plants in tennessee

The common name, Dutchman’s Pipe, is derived from the flower’s appearance, which resembles the Meerschaum smoking pipes once used in Europe. This native vine prefers rich, moist, and well-drained soil. Brazilian Dutchman’s pipe is a super rare houseplant that is easy to grow and needs regular watering to thrive.

They do best in long-lasting, direct light and should be less than 1 foot from a window. The root is an antidote, anti-inflammatory, bitter tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, and stimulant. Traditionally, it was chewed in minute doses or used as a weak tea to promote sweating, stimulate the appetite, and promote expectoration.

7. Columbine

tennessee plants

This is one of the first plants to flower in March, enjoying the cooler mornings spring has to offer. Wild columbine forms patches thanks to its highly viable and abundant seed production. In these patches, tall, wiry stems arise with nodding red and yellow flowers. It may take two full years to enjoy blooms. Columbine (Aquilegia) are some of our best wildflowers for shade and partial shade areas of the garden.

They enjoy compost-enriched soil with moderate moisture. Columbines are also highly attractive to hummingbirds and provide a copious supply of nature’s nectar from late spring into the summer months. They can tolerate a variety of soils like clay, loamy, and sandy and grow in full sun to partial shade, especially afternoon shade in hotter climates.

Columbine is an herb. The leaves and stems are used to make medicine. People take columbine for gallbladder disorders, general stomach and intestinal problems, a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency (scurvy), and rashes.


Growing the best plants in Tennessee is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, Tennessee’s agricultural sector plays a significant role in the state’s economy, providing employment opportunities and contributing to the overall prosperity of its residents.

Additionally, growing superior plants ensures food security and sustains the supply chain, meeting the local population’s dietary needs and beyond. Moreover, Tennessee’s diverse ecosystem and climate offer favorable conditions for a wide range of crops and plants, making it imperative to harness this potential to its fullest extent.

Benefits of Tennessee Native Plants

In conclusion, for home gardeners in the Volunteer State seeking to enrich their landscapes with native plants, the Eastern Redbud is an exceptional choice. This tree not only boasts beautiful foliage but also dazzles in full bloom with its ornamental grass and red berries, enhancing soil quality and attracting butterflies.

It thrives throughout the growing season and into late fall, offering excellent ground cover and erosion control. Additionally, its disease-resistant qualities make it ideal for Tennessee’s varied climates. Consider the Eastern Redbud to bring year-round beauty and ecological benefits to your garden.

Ultimately, prioritizing the growth of the best plants in Tennessee fosters economic development and ensures food security, environmental conservation, and overall well-being for its inhabitants and beyond.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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