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  • Mother-of -thyme (Thymus serphyllum)

    Mother-of-thyme in full flower.

    Also known as:

    Mother-of-thyme, wild thyme, creeping thyme, creeping red thyme
    While thyme is usually thought of as an herb, this species is used as a ground cover, rather than for cooking. Well-drained soil is a must for this plant.

    Size Range:

    • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Mountain hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata)

    Flowers of mountain hydrangea.

    Also known as:

    Mountain hydrangea
    Mountain hydrangea is a small, 2 to 3 feet high shrub from the mountains of Korea and Japan with light pink, lace cap flower clusters in mid-summer. The slender green leaves often turn red or burgundy in autumn. It does well in part shade and is small enough to be used in containers.

    Size Range:

    • Small shrub (3-5 feet),
    • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
    • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Mugo pine (Pinus mugo)

    Needles and cone of mugo pine.

    Also known as:

    Mugo pine, Swiss mountain pine, Mugho pine, Creeping pine, Dwarf mountain pine
    Mugo pine is a small to large-sized, shrubby pine adapted for the home landscape. Plants vary in height, texture, and year-round color. Needles remain on plant for up to 5 years.

    Size Range:

    • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa )

    Nanking cherry flowering in spring.

    Also known as:

    Nanking cherry, Manchu cherry
    The Nanking cherry is a lovely ornamental shrub with fragrant white flowers appearing before the leaves. Shiny reddish-brown exfoliating bark and attractive scarlet red fruits adds seasonal interest. Use as a hedge or spring specimen in the shrub border.

    Size Range:

    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

    Creamy-white flowers of Nannyberry viburnum.

    Also known as:

    Nannyberry, Nannyberry viburnum, Sheepberry
    Nannyberry is grown as a large shrub or a small tree reaching 15 to 20 feet high, known for its dark, lustrous green leaves which turn maroon-red in the fall. This Midwest native is typically found in woodlands and wood edges, a great plant for naturalizing.

    Size Range:

    • Small tree (15-25 feet),
    • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (syn. Aster novae-angliae))

    Purple flowers of New England aster

    Also known as:

    New England aster
    New England aster is a native, upright perennial with purple or pinkish daisy-like flowers that bloom in late summer and autumn. Excellent in combination with other late season ornamental grasses, goldenrod and other asters. This plant is known for attracting butterflies.

    Size Range:

    • Large plant (more than 24 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • New Horizon elm (Ulmus 'New Horizon')

    A mature specimen of New Horizon elm.

    Also known as:

    New Horizon elm
    The New Horizon elm has slightly arching branches that give it a finer textured appearance than most elms. It has excellent resistance to Dutch elm disease (DED), elm leaf miner, and verticillium wilt. This cultivar has large dark green leaves that take on a rusty-red tint in fall. Useful as street, parkway, or shade tree.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet),
    • Medium tree (25-40 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus )

    Flowers of New Jersey tea.

    Also known as:

    New Jersey tea, wild snowbell, redroot
    During June and July this low-growing, rounded shrub is a cloud of white flowers; use it in masses for best affect, as a tall ground cover, or on steep slopes. Despite its name, New Jersey tea is a Chicago-area native.

    Size Range:

    • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • New York aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (syn. Aster novi-belgii))

    Cultivar Henry III has double flowers.

    Also known as:

    New York aster, Michaelmas daisy
    New York aster, also known as Michaelmas daisy, is a robust, upright native perennial with gray-green leaves and dense crown of fall-blooming, purple daisy-like flowers. A great addition to the late season perennial garden when combined with goldenrod and other native grasses.

    Size Range:

    • Large plant (more than 24 inches),
    • Medium plant (12-24 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • Nikko maple (Acer maximowiczii (syn. Acer nikoense))

    Also known as:

    Nikko maple
    Unlike other maples, the Nikko maple does not have the traditional "maple" leaf. Each leaf is divided into three leaflets. The leaves turn to shades of red and orange in autumn, giving this medium-sized tree some late-season interest.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet),
    • Medium tree (25-40 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Nippon spirea (Spiraea nipponica)

    Flowers of Snowmound nippon spirea.

    Also known as:

    Nippon spirea, snowmound Nippon spirea
    Nippon spirea is a beautiful compact shrub reaching 3 to 5 feet tall with graceful spreading branches and clusters of white flowers in mid-to-late spring. Use at the back of the border or as a specimen plant.

    Size Range:

    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
    • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum)

    Nodding onion has light pinkish-white flowers in a nodding cluster.

    Also known as:

    Wild onion, Nodding wild onion, Wild nodding onion, Lady's leeks, Nodding onion
    Nodding wild onion is native in open woods and slopes from Canada to Mexico, including northeast Illinois. Mounds of flat, grass-like leaves support stalks of nodding, bell-shaped, purplish-pink flower clusters in June through August. Great plant for front of the border, rock garden, and naturalized areas.

    Size Range:

    • Large plant (more than 24 inches),
    • Medium plant (12-24 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois
  • Northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

    Spring flowers of Northern catalpa.

    Also known as:

    Northern catalpa, Catalpa, Cigar-tree, Hardy catalpa, Western catalpa
    Catalpa is a Midwest native tree grows 40 to 60 feet tall, with a narrow, open, irregularly rounded crown and spreading branches. It has large, heart-shaped leaves and large clusters of fragrant, white flowers. The long, interesting seed pods persist through the winter. Northern catalpa is very adaptable to adverse conditions, but has weak wood and branch structure.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • Northern red oak (Quercus rubra)

    Summer foliage of red oak.

    Also known as:

    northern red oak, red oak
    Northern red oak is native to the Midwest and is one of the faster growing oaks for the home landscape. The leaves are handsome throughout the year, emerging pinkish-red, turning lustrous dark green in summer, and changing to russet-red to bright red in autumn. Its tolerance of salt and air pollution makes it a good tree for more exposed areas.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • Northern sea-oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

    Seed heads of Northern sea-oats.

    Also known as:

    Northern sea-oats, wild oats, wood oats, Indian wood-oats, spangle grass
    Northern sea-oats is a grass native to the southern half of Illinois. This warm season, clumping grass has interesting oat-like seed heads that rustle easily in the wind, adding movement to the garden.

    Size Range:

    • Large plant (more than 24 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • Norway maple (Not recommended) (Acer platanoides)

    Summer foliage of Norway maple.

    Also known as:

    Norway maple
    Norway maples have invasive traits that enable them to spread aggressively. While these trees have demonstrated invasive traits, there is insufficient supporting research to declare them so pervasive that they cannot be recommended for any planting sites. Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting these trees for planting sites. Norway maple is known for its tolerance of urban conditions, but it often becomes a weedy plant through self-seeding.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Norway spruce (Picea abies)

    Cones and needles of Norway spruce.

    Also known as:

    Norway spruce
    Norway spruce is a large, pyramidal tree with long, cylindrical cones that hang like ornaments from the weeping branches against the dark green foliage. This sun-loving, 50- to 80-foot-high tree is often used as windbreaks, screens, or hedges in large-scale landscapes.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet),
    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
    • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Oak-leaved hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

    Oakleaf hydrangea shrub in full flower.

    Also known as:

    Oak-leaf hydrangea, Oakleaf hydrangea, Oak-leaved hydrangea
    Oak-leaved hydrangea is a southeastern native shrub for all seasons. The large dark green leaves resemble oak leaves, in fall they change to a deep burgundy or red fall color. Mid-summer the large cone-shaped flower clusters open white then turn a purplish-pink, then changing to brown persisting into winter. The older bark is cinnamon brown color and peels to create a texture that makes this plant interesting even when the leaves are gone.

    Size Range:

    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
    • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • North America
  • Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra )

    The flower cluster of Ohio buckeye.

    Also known as:

    Ohio buckeye
    The Ohio buckeye is a neatly rounded tree with low, sweeping branches and dense foliage that provides deep shade. It is one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. This tree is susceptible to leaf blotch.

    Size Range:

    • Medium tree (25-40 feet),
    • Small tree (15-25 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America
  • Old fashioned weigela (Weigela florida)

    Old fashioned weigela, cultivar 'Alexandra, in flower.

    Also known as:

    Old fashioned weigela, Old-fashioned weigela, Cardinal bush
    Old-fashioned weigela fills gardens with bright tubular flowers in early summer often blooming again as the season progresses. Summer foliage is neat and tidy, relatively disease free. There are many cultivated varieties available in different sizes and flower colors.

    Size Range:

    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
    • Small shrub (3-5 feet),
    • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Old-fashioned bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea prunifolia)

    Also known as:

    Old-fashioned Bridal Wreath, Oldfashioned bridal wreath, Bridal wreath spirea
    Old-fashioned bridal wreath spirea is often found in older established landscapes. This handsome open, loose shrub reaches 4 to 8 foot high and 6 to 8 foot wide. Showy, double white flowers are in clusters of 3 to 6 in mid-spring. The finely serrated small leaves turn a yellow to bronzy-purple in the fall.

    Size Range:

    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Oregon grape-holly (Mahonia aquifolium)

    Oregon grape-holly has bright yellow flowers in spring.

    Also known as:

    Oregon grape-holly, Holly-leaved barberry, Grape Holly, Oregon hollygrape, Holly leaf Oregon grape
    Oregon grape-holly is a semi-evergreen, upright to oval shrub maturing at 4 to 5 feet high and 3 feet wide with tendency to sucker. Bright yellow clusters of small flowers in early spring contrast against the burgundy fall leaves of last years growth. Glossy, holly-like summer foliage starts out burgundy maturing to blue green. Site in an area protected against wind and winter sun.

    Size Range:

    • Small shrub (3-5 feet),
    • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
    • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • North America
  • Oriental arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis)

    Foliage of oriental arborvitae.

    Also known as:

    oriental arborvitae
    Oriental arborvitae is similar in appearance to other species of arborvitae. Nurseries usually sell the cultivars of this plant rather than the actual species and those cultivars can vary greatly in appearance. Winter protection may be needed for this plant. Because it is typically short in stature, oriental arborvitae may be planted under utility lines.

    Size Range:

    • Small tree (15-25 feet),
    • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
    • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
    • Small shrub (3-5 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Oriental bittersweet (Illegal to sell in Illinois) (Celastrus orbiculatus)

    Leaves and fruit of oriental bittersweet.

    Also known as:

    Oriental bittersweet, Chinese bittersweet
    Oriental bittersweet has been a popular plant for many years. Unfortunately it has become invasive in many areas of the Eastern United States and is no longer recommended. In Illinois, it is classified as a exotic weed and is illegal to sell.

    Size Range:

    • Large plant (more than 24 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Oriental spirea (Spiraea media)

    Flowers of oriental spirea.

    Also known as:

    Oriental spirea
    Oriental spirea is a small, rounded shrub reaching 3 to 5 feet high. White, umbel-like flower clusters appear in May followed by dark green leaves. Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Use en masse or in a mixed shrub border. Cultivars are more popular in the nursery trade.

    Size Range:

    • Small shrub (3-5 feet),
    • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis)

    Needles of oriental spruce.

    Also known as:

    oriental spruce, Caucasian spruce
    Oriental spruce can reach a height of 50 to 60 feet with a spread of 15 to 25 feet. The delicate texture of the small needles and graceful habit make this a good choice for the home landscape.

    Size Range:

    • Large tree (more than 40 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Ornamental onion (Allium aflatunense)

    Also known as:

    Ornamental onion
    Ornamental onion is an easy-to-grow perennial for a sunny spring garden. Although a bulb, it is often purchased as a potted plant. Long, slender, flat leaves give way to large, multi-flowered clusters of purple flowers. Attracts butterflies and other pollinators.

    Size Range:

    • Large plant (more than 24 inches),
    • Medium plant (12-24 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Ornamental sweet potato (ANNUAL VINE) (Ipomoea batatas)

    Illusion Emerald Lace sweet potato used as a ground cover.

    Also known as:

    ornamental sweet potato, sweet potato
    Ornamental sweet potato is an attractive version of the edible sweet potato. Most cultivars feature foliage that is colorful, usually shaped or both. This is a weak climber and may need to be trained onto a support. It is quite vigorous as a ground cover. It is an annual vine.

    Size Range:

    • Medium plant (12-24 inches),
    • Small plant (6-12 inches),
    • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Non-native
  • Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera)

    Osage-orange has a grapefruit-sized fruit.

    Also known as:

    Osage-orange, hedge apple, hedgeapple
    Commonly called Osage-orange or hedge apple, this medium-sized tree has a short trunk and rounded crown with large globular fruit produced by female trees. The wood was once used as fence posts throughout the Midwest. Osage-orange produces large fruit and tends to have an aggressive nature.

    Size Range:

    • Medium tree (25-40 feet),
    • Small tree (15-25 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • North America
  • Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

    Close-up of the flowers of pagoda dogwood.

    Also known as:

    Pagoda dogwood, Alternate-leaved dogwood, Alternate-leaf dogwood
    Pagoda dogwood is an excellent native plant for the four season garden. The unique horizontal branching pattern has a distinct tiered habit, often catching snow in the winter. Clusters of white flowers show up in spring, dark green foliage turns a beautiful burgundy-red in fall, and blue-black berries attract many birds.

    Size Range:

    • Small tree (15-25 feet),
    • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
    • Large shrub (more than 8 feet)

    Light Exposure:

    • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
    • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

    Native Locale:

    • Chicago area,
    • Illinois,
    • North America

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