Native plants are becoming more of a desire in the Suburban Chicago landscape.

And for good reason. Native plants can be more drought and stress tolerant, requiring less water. And since they are well-adapted to a local region, they usually thrive better during climate shifts.

Since there are so many great varieties out there, landscaping with native plants in Illinois is becoming easier. There are so many great tree, shrub, grass, flower, and groundcover options available.

Whether you’re interested in adding native plants to your landscape or are curious about some varieties that could work well in your space, try some of these options that we prefer.

Landscaping With Native Plants in Illinois

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat.

This usually means they take less care and energy to grow and are healthy additions to your region. But you still have to follow proper planting rules, which means placing plants in soil they prefer and ensuring they receive the right amount of sunlight and adequate moisture.

landscape plants and patio

Ones we like to use are called nativars, which are new garden plants developed from native sources.

Nativars allow landscape designers to retain the benefits of native species while making them accessible for more modern landscapes. They are hardy and adaptable to our soils and environmental conditions, making them lower maintenance and more supportive of wildlife, particularly pollinators, insects, and birds that eat insects.

Nativars can be better versions of the original native species, providing more compact size, cleaner foliage, better color, or tidier appearance.

These best Illinois native plants can be some great choices for you to consider.

Native Trees For Illinois Landscapes

These are some of the most beneficial native trees for the area that attract a lot of insects like caterpillars that turn into butterflies, bringing pollinators to your home landscape.


There are so many oak varieties out there, but most oaks are on the list of best Illinois native plants because they are long-lived and are effective at storing carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants. They provide vital wildlife habitats. The acorns of oaks even feed more than 100 species of wildlife.

large Oak Tree

Wild Cherry

This large native tree is found in the Midwest and throughout the eastern U.S. It has showy white flowers that appear in clusters in the spring. The mature tree’s bark is dark and scaly. The tree can grow 50 to 60 feet tall in full sun or partial sun/shade.

Cherry Tree


River birch is an Illinois native that is a symbol of renewal in Celtic mythology. Its attractive bark provides four seasons of interest. An excellent choice for the home landscape, it has high wildlife value and widespread availability.

river birch tree close up on bark

Plants Native to Illinois

If you’re looking for something on a smaller scale when adding native Illinois flowers to your home landscape, try these varieties.

Chokeberry (Aronia)

Red and black chokeberries -- both native to Illinois -- prefer full sun to partial shade and tolerate wet and dry sites. Black chokeberry has pretty white flowers in spring followed by edible fruit. Red chokeberry grows 6 to 10 feet tall and 3 to 5o feet wide and has clusters of small, white flowers in mid-spring followed by small, round, bright red fruit in late summer and autumn. Some great varieties of black chokeberries are Aronia ‘Iriquois Beauty’ and Aronia malanocarpa ‘UCONNAM165.’

chokeberry native planting in Illinois

Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla)

This plant has dense, dark green foliage that turns yellow-orange and then reddish purple in autumn. The color is more dramatic on plantings that receive more sunlight. As a small, mound-shaped shrub, it makes a great choice for shrub borders. Yellow, honeysuckle-shaped flowers turn red as they mature and attract butterflies and other pollinators.

Bush Honeysuckle native planting in Chicago

Bring More Natives to Your Suburban Chicago Home

Native plants have evolved with the landscape so they are well-adapted to Chicago’s soils and climate. That makes them more drought-tolerant with roots that reach deeper, aiding in stormwater management.

Requiring less water than other species and making important wildlife habitats, native Illinois flowers are always great additions to the home landscape.

Want to add some natives but aren’t sure where to start? Let KD Landscape help. We can bring our years of experience working with unique plants to your space, giving you something special.

Ready to see how KD Landscape can transform your suburban Chicago yard with native plants? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare a design that you will love.

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Image Source: Oaks, Cherry Tree, River Bich Bark, Choke Berry, Bush Honeysuckle