Best Plants to Grow in Nebraska: Your Ultimate Guide

Welcome to our ultimate guide on the best plants to grow in Nebraska! When it comes to gardening, selecting the right plants for your climate is crucial to ensure a thriving garden. In this guide, we’ll explore Nebraska’s unique climate and horticulture, and provide recommendations on the best plant species to grow in the state. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, our guide has something for everyone.

Understanding Nebraska’s Climate and Horticulture

Nebraska’s climate is characterized by hot summers and cold winters, making it an ideal environment for certain types of plants. However, gardeners in Nebraska face some unique challenges, such as frequent temperature fluctuations, strong winds, and occasional droughts. To thrive in this climate, it’s important to choose plants that are well-adapted to these conditions and are able to withstand temperature extremes, harsh winds, and periods of limited water availability.

Nebraska has a diverse range of horticultural regions, each with its own challenges and advantages. The eastern part of the state has a more humid climate and fertile soil, while the western part of the state has drier conditions and more alkaline soil. These regional differences can affect the success of certain plants, and it’s important to take them into consideration when selecting plants for your garden.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Plants for Nebraska

When selecting plants for your Nebraska garden, it’s crucial to consider various factors that will affect their growth and survival. By understanding the specific conditions of your region, you can make informed decisions and choose the right plant species to ensure your garden thrives.


The climate is the most significant factor when selecting plant species for your Nebraska garden. The state experiences a range of weather conditions, from hot and humid summers to cold and dry winters. The USDA Hardiness Zone for Nebraska ranges from Zone 4b to 5b, indicating the plants that are most likely to survive in the area.

You should consider factors such as temperature, rainfall, and humidity levels when selecting plants for your garden. Choose plants that can tolerate the extremes of Nebraska’s climate, such as drought-resistant or cold-hardy plant species.

Soil Conditions

The soil type and quality can significantly impact plant growth and health. Nebraska soils vary depending on the region, from sandy soils in the west to clay soils in the east. When selecting plants for your garden, consider the pH level of your soil, as well as its texture and nutrient content.

Some plants thrive in specific soil conditions, while others require well-drained or fertile soil. Generally, most plants grow well in loamy soil, which is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged.

Growing Season

Nebraska has a short growing season, typically starting in May and ending in September. You should select plant species that can complete their life cycle within this period, ensuring they have time to mature and produce flowers or fruit before the first frost.

Consider the frost dates in your region when planning your garden, as well as the length of the growing season. If you want to extend the growing period, you can use season extenders such as cold frames or row covers.

Hardy Perennials for Nebraska Gardens

Nebraska’s extreme climates require plants that can withstand both freezing winters and scorching summers. The following hardy perennials are able to thrive in these conditions and provide beauty to your garden:

Plant Characteristics Care Requirements
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) Large, daisy-like flowers with pink-purple petals and orange-brown centers Full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil, regular watering
Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan) Yellow-gold petals with dark centers, blooms throughout summer and fall Full sun, well-drained soil, infrequent watering
Salvia nemorosa (Woodland Sage) Small, fragrant flowers in shades of purple, blue, and pink Full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil, moderate watering
Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis) Bright yellow flowers with fine, thread-like leaves Full sun, well-drained soil, low watering

When planting hardy perennials, it’s important to ensure that they are established in the soil and have had time to develop strong roots before winter sets in. Adding a layer of mulch can also help protect them from harsh winter conditions.

Native Plants of Nebraska

Choosing native plants for your Nebraska garden is a great way to support local ecosystems and ensure successful growth. Native plants have adapted to the state’s climate, making them hardy and resilient in changing weather conditions. Here are some recommended native plants to consider:

Plant Name Description Growing Conditions
Goldenrod A tall, yellow flower that attracts pollinators and butterflies Full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil
Wild Bergamot A fragrant plant with pink or lavender flowers that attracts hummingbirds and bees Full sun, well-drained soil
Prairie Coneflower A hardy flower with yellow petals and a brown center that attracts pollinators Full sun, well-drained soil

You can also consider incorporating native grasses into your garden, such as Big Bluestem or Switchgrass. These grasses are drought-tolerant and provide important habitat for wildlife.

Tip: Check with your local nursery or gardening club for more information on native plants that are suitable for your specific area of Nebraska.

Drought-Tolerant Plants for Nebraska Gardens

With its dry climate and unpredictable rainfall, Nebraska can be a challenging environment for growing plants. However, there are several options for drought-tolerant plants that can thrive in these conditions, while still providing vibrant foliage and blooms.

Here are some of the best drought-tolerant plants for Nebraska:

Plant Characteristics Care Requirements
Sedum Low-growing, succulent leaves come in a variety of colors, including green, red, and yellow. Plant in well-draining soil, and water only when soil is completely dry. Thrives in full sun to partial shade.
Lavender Slender purple flowers contrast beautifully with silver foliage. Known for its calming scent. Thrives in well-drained soil and full sun. Can tolerate drought conditions, but prefers occasional watering.
Yarrow Flat-topped clusters of flowers in pink, yellow, and white hues. Feathery, fern-like foliage. Plant in well-draining soil, and water only when soil is dry. Full sun to partial shade.

Tips for conserving water:

  • Water plants early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation.
  • Add a layer of mulch to retain moisture and prevent weeds.
  • Use a drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to the roots, minimizing waste.

By selecting drought-tolerant plants and using conservation techniques, you can create a beautiful and sustainable garden in Nebraska.

Annuals and Biennials for Nebraska Gardens

Annuals and biennials are popular plant options for Nebraska gardens, as they offer a variety of vibrant colors and are relatively easy to grow. Consider these options for a stunning display in your garden:

Plant Name Features Care Requirements
Petunias Large variety of colors, suitable for hanging baskets and containers Require regular watering, full sun exposure
Marigolds Bright, sun-like blooms, attractive to pollinators Tolerate heat and drought, prefer well-drained soil
Zinnias Large, showy blooms, attract butterflies Regular watering, full sun exposure

Don’t forget to deadhead these plants to encourage continuous blooming throughout the growing season. And with proper care, they can provide colorful blooms from spring to fall.

Low-Maintenance Plants for Nebraska Gardens

For those who want to enjoy the beauty of a garden without the time and effort required for high-maintenance plants, there are several low-maintenance options that are perfect for Nebraska’s climate.

Lavender: This fragrant herb is not only beautiful, but it is also incredibly hardy and requires little water or maintenance once established. Lavender prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Daylilies: With their vibrant colors and ability to grow in a variety of soil types, daylilies are an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens. They require minimal watering and thrive in full sun or partial shade.

Hostas: These shade-loving plants come in a variety of sizes and colors and require little care. Plant them in well-drained soil and provide occasional watering to keep them healthy.

Plant Light Requirements Watering Needs
Lavender Full Sun Low
Daylilies Full Sun to Partial Shade Low
Hostas Partial Shade to Full Shade Low

Sedums: With their succulent leaves, sedums are perfect for rock gardens or containers. They require minimal watering and prefer full sun to partial shade.

Black-Eyed Susans: These cheerful flowers are easy to grow and require little care. Plant them in well-drained soil and provide occasional watering in hot, dry weather.

  • Lavender is a hardy, fragrant herb that requires little water or maintenance.
  • Daylilies are a vibrant and versatile option that can grow in a variety of soil types and light conditions.
  • Hostas thrive in shade and require minimal care.
  • Sedums are low-maintenance succulents that add texture to rock gardens or containers.
  • Black-Eyed Susans are a cheerful and easy-to-grow flower that can brighten up any garden.

“Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience.” – Marina Schinz

With these low-maintenance plant options, anyone can create a beautiful and thriving garden in Nebraska, no matter their level of experience or available time.

Creating a Successful Garden in Nebraska

Successfully gardening in Nebraska requires proper planning and preparation. Here are some tips to help you create a thriving garden:

Soil Preparation

Before planting, ensure that your soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. You can improve your soil quality by adding compost or aged manure. It is also essential to test your soil’s pH level regularly and make necessary adjustments to ensure your plants receive the necessary nutrients.


Watering your plants regularly is crucial for a successful garden. However, it’s essential to avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. You can minimize water usage by utilizing techniques such as drip irrigation and mulching.


Applying fertilizer helps your plants grow healthy and strong. However, overapplication can lead to issues such as nutrient burn. It’s crucial to follow instructions on the packaging and apply the fertilizer appropriately, avoiding direct contact with the plant’s leaves or stems.

Pest Control

Protecting your plants from pests and diseases is essential for a successful garden. You can minimize pest issues by practicing good gardening techniques, such as crop rotation and planting companion crops. If necessary, utilize organic pest control measures to avoid chemical interference with local ecosystems.

Continuing Education

Learning is an essential part of gardening in Nebraska. Keep yourself informed of the latest gardening trends and techniques, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas and strategies. Attending local gardening clubs and events is an excellent way to connect with other gardeners and gain valuable insights.


Now that you have learned about the best plants to grow in Nebraska and how to care for them, it’s time to get started on your garden. Remember to choose plants that are well-suited for Nebraska’s climate, including hardy perennials, native plants, and drought-tolerant options. Don’t forget to consider factors such as soil conditions, watering needs, and growing seasons.

With a little preparation and care, you can create a beautiful and thriving garden in Nebraska. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these tips and recommendations will help you achieve success. So, get your hands dirty and enjoy the many benefits of gardening in Nebraska!


Q: What are the best plants to grow in Nebraska?

A: The best plants to grow in Nebraska depend on the climate and horticulture of the region. Factors such as temperature, rainfall, soil conditions, and growing seasons should be considered when choosing plants.

Q: How can I understand Nebraska’s climate and horticulture?

A: Understanding Nebraska’s climate and horticulture involves learning about the challenges and opportunities it presents for gardening. This includes researching the plant recommendations specific to Nebraska and its unique climate.

Q: What factors should I consider when choosing plants for Nebraska?

A: When selecting plants for Nebraska, factors such as temperature tolerance, water requirements, soil adaptability, and the length of the growing season should be taken into consideration.

Q: What are some hardy perennial plants that thrive in Nebraska?

A: Some hardy perennial plants that thrive in Nebraska’s climate include coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, daylilies, and ornamental grasses. These plants are known for their resilience and ability to withstand Nebraska’s changing weather conditions.

Q: Are there any native plants of Nebraska that I should consider for my garden?

A: Yes, there are several native plant species well-suited for Nebraska gardens. These native plants have adapted to the local climate and offer benefits for local ecosystems, such as providing habitat for pollinators and supporting biodiversity.

Q: What are some drought-tolerant plants for Nebraska gardens?

A: There are many drought-tolerant plants that can thrive in Nebraska’s dry conditions. Some examples include lavender, yarrow, sedum, and ornamental grasses. These plants require less water and can withstand periods of drought.

Q: What are some popular annual and biennial plant options for Nebraska gardens?

A: Popular annual and biennial plants for Nebraska gardens include petunias, marigolds, pansies, and sunflowers. These plants offer a burst of vibrant colors and are relatively easy to grow.

Q: Are there any low-maintenance plants suitable for Nebraska gardens?

A: Yes, there are many low-maintenance plants that require minimal care and are ideal for busy gardeners in Nebraska. Some examples include succulents, hostas, and perennial grasses. These plants are known for their durability and ability to thrive with little attention.

Q: How can I create a successful garden in Nebraska?

A: To create a successful garden in Nebraska, it is important to prepare the soil properly, provide adequate watering and fertilization, and follow essential gardening practices. This includes understanding the specific needs of the chosen plants and implementing appropriate care techniques.