John Ball Zoo

Habitat Hero

Join John Ball Zoo in being a Habitat Hero. Choosing native plants like trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants help wildlife by providing important habitat like food and shelter. Native plants are often preferred by insects and may even be required for many insects to survive - like milkweed for caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly! Join us as we engage with our community to help provide these valuable plants to community members and become a Habitat Hero. John Ball Zoo will be out in the community throughout the 2022 season providing free trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants. Below is additional information about these plants, including how to plant them, how to care for them, as well as the wildlife you can expect to benefit from them. We'll also be posting about upcoming events and ways to join us in celebrating wildlife and wild spaces!

Native Trees & Shrubs

*We'll be planting more information here soon for plants provided at Party for the Planet. 

American Basswood (Tilia americana)

Sun: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Prefers moist, well-drained soil, but is adaptable to many soil types. 

Size: 60-80 feet

Wildlife Value: Old trees tend to be hollow on the inside, providing nesting cavities for many different animals. Non-showy, fragrant flowers appear in the summer and are a favorite for many pollinator insects. 

Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipfera)

Sun: Full Sun

Soil: Works well in most soils.

Size: 70-90 feet tall, 40 feet wide

Wildlife Value: Tuplip trees provide lots of food for native wildlife. Spring flowers provide nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds. Seeds provide food for birds including finches, cardinals, and quail, as well as mammals like squirrels and rabbits. 


White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Sun: Full sun and partial shade 

Soil: Does best in moist soil, but can be tolerant on anything. 

Size: 50-80 feet

Wildlife Value: Eastern White Pine seeds are favored by many birds. White pines provide nesting sites for many birds including woodpeckers, common grackles, mourning doves, chickadees, and nuthatches. 

Jack Pine (Pinus banksianaI)

Sun: Full Sun

Soil: Drought tolerant and prefers dry soils

Size: 35-50 feet

Wildlife Value: Jack Pines are essential nesting and nursery habitat for the rare Kirkland's warbler, a small songbird also known as the Jack Pine Warbler that only lives in northern lower Michigan. 

Witch Hazel (Hammamelis ovalis)

Sun: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Prefer well-drained soil

Size: 10-20 feet tall, 15-25 feet wide

Wildlife Value: As a winter-blooming plant, Witch Hazel is an important source of food for insects. It serves as a host plant for the caterpillar stage of the Spring Azure butterfly. The seeds are also beneficial for many birds. 

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus accidentalis)

Sun: Full sun, can tolerate partial sun/shade

Soil: Moist, well-drained soil

Size: Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Wildlife Value: Buttonbush attracts more than 24 species of birds, as well as numerous species of butterflies. 

Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)

Sun: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Any soil type but does the best in moist, well-drained soil. 

Size: 8-15 feet tall, 8-10 feet wide

Wildlife Value: A great source of food for wintering birds like the Cedar Waxwing, berries stay on the branches well into summer. 

Upcoming Events

Party For The Planet - Join us at John Ball Zoo on Saturday, April 23 to celebrate Earth Day, it's a party for the planet!