Get Started

We are so glad you are ready to get your hands dirty! Thank you for starting your native plant gardening journey with Mt Cuba Center.

By adding a few native plants to your garden, you can make a large impact. We call this conservation by addition. Read on to learn about tried and true native plants, where to buy them, how to care for them, and more.

A person prepares to plant a young tree in the ground. A thick web of roots dangle below the tree.


A plant that naturally occurs, absent of human intervention, within a geographic range, and has co-evolved with other native species within that range. Native plants provide critical ecological functions and are adapted to persist in the environment.

For the purposes of our collections, MCC considers plants to be native if they naturally occur within the Eastern Temperate Forests of the United States.

The key to planning a successful garden is considering what will grow well on the site you have chosen. Think carefully about the conditions in your garden — do you have shade or full sun? Is your soil dry or is it low-lying and soggy when it rains? Understanding your site’s growing conditions will help you choose the right plant for the right place.

Find Plants

Using an assortment of foliage, bloom colors, and textures is a simple way to make your garden interesting to the eye. Before you begin planting, make a wish list of plants that will help you achieve your artistic vision.

Summer blooms in the round garden at Mt. Cuba Center.

Once the wish list is complete, head over to your local garden center. Use our native plant directory to explore local retailers offering native plants.

A limited number of high-quality native plants are also for sale at Mt. Cuba Center. Selections vary by season and are generally available May through October. These plants are available to purchase when the Gardens are open to the public, while supplies last.

Another place to find native plants is local native plant sales. These one or two-day events provide a valuable resource for native plant enthusiasts and often help raise funds for conservation organizations. The Delaware Nature Society and University of Delaware Botanic Gardens hold annual native plant sales with a wide variety of beautiful native species for all growing conditions.

Nursery Resources

Once you’ve made your selections, it’s time to go home, don the gardening gloves and get to work. Start with the basic tools, follow the nursery tags, enjoy learning about your plants and garden as you grow. Check out Mt. Cuba’s Native Plant Finder to learn even more about your selections.

Watch this video in Roger’s Gardens Gardening 101 Series to learn how to plant a plant!

Native Plant Finder