By the purest and purist’s definition, native plants grew here before European settlers arrived. In contrast, plants brought into our area from other places and hybrid plants are non-natives.
Naturalized plants are those that were brought into the region as non-natives but escaped the cultivated area and thrive as weeds.
Wherever they originated, natives are low-maintenance plants that grow well without much assistance after they become established. The benefits to wildlife and to your appreciation of your gardening experience cannot be measured!
Do as much native planting in the fall as you possibly can.
Wild Things Nursery (www.wildthingsnursery.com) in Seminole grows and sells OK native plants. Owners Marilyn and Ken Stewart converted their acreage to a butterfly, moth and pollinator sanctuary. It is filled with native plants where they collect caterpillars (to protect them from birds) and raise them in screened containers.
MaryAnn King of Pine Ridge Gardens in northwest Arkansas organized her paper and online catalogs into handy ways you can find what you are looking for. Herbaceous perennials; Grasses, Sedges and Rushes; Trees, Shrubs, Vines; Butterflies, Nectar, Seeds, Wetlands, and Xeriscape.
Pine Ridge Gardens has several open nursery days coming up in Sept and Oct. Click over to see them all.
Also, you can research wildflowers by flower color at http://2bnthewild.com/tnxblue.htm if you are going for a certain color, for example, red to bring hummingbirds.
When starting to add native plants, think in terms diverse plant communities that include trees, vines, fruiting shrubs, grasses and flowers for nectar source.
Native plants for OK landscapes include cacti, ferns, annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs, trees and vines. The complete list is at http://1.usa.gov/10fRIHD and there are photos at www.oknativeplants.org.
If you'd like to see an entire garden of native plants, take a trip to Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesson Kansas. Their native plant sale is Sept 8 - 10. This link will take you to a listing of what will be available.
If you prefer to start from seed try Missouri Wildflower Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, or check out this list from Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.