Native flowers are a boon to the gardening enthusiast. Not only are they easier to plant and grow, but they thrive with little or no effort. Plants that have originated in the southern plain are used to the rocky clay that peppers the landscapes. They are use to the hot summers and the tempered winters. Native plants will help with soil erosion and keep invasive species at bay. Below are 10 Southern Natives that will give you a wide range of texture and color for your garden. All are fine for the zones of 7 and 8.
Camassia scilloides (Wild Hyacinth)
A lovely tiny 6-petal star-like flower from the Lily family, this will flower in blues or lavender (rarely white) from April to May. It has a very short bloom time, but will bloom early and is still worth a thought in your garden. It has grass-like leaves from 1-3 feet high and 1-2 foot spread. Wild hyacinth prefers light shade and is found near streams.
Campanula aparinoides (Marsh Bellflower)
“Campana” in Latin means “little bell” and is the perfect naming for this plant. This bellflower grows up to 3 feet and has blue bell-like flowers on weak stems. You can propagate from seed. This will bloom well from June to August in full sun and in wet habitats.
Clintonia umbellulata (White Clintonia)
This perennial grows on 8-18 inch stems and is abundant with blooms. It will usually have 5-30 small white flowers with purple spots during its bloom season of mid to late spring. It has wonderfully shiny foliage and dark bluish black berries.
This fast grower from the daily family grows on bushy 2 foot stems. It has a spread of around 1-3 feet. Expect single or double yellow flowers on long stems. You should deadhead these for better flowering. It prefers full sun and well drained soil. Propagate from seed.
Helenium autumnale (Common Sneezeweed)
This upright hardy reaches a height of 4-6 feet and a spread of 3-4 feet. It will bloom August to October in the red, yellow, and orange spectrum. It does best in full sun and moist soil. You can collect seed heads when the flowers fade to collect seed; or divide in spring or fall to propagate.
Helianthus verticillatus (Whorled Sunflower)
This sunflower is included in hopes that a lucky gardener or trail walker will find it and report back to a conservation organization on its whereabouts. It is mostly found in Floyd County; but we hope to hear reports of it in other locale. It is a deciduous perennial, yellow, and blooms beautiful 13 ray flowers from September to October.
Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea)
Deciduous shrub that will grow 4-8 feet tall and is wider than it is high. It has dark green coarse leaves and white flowers that will turn pink and then tan in the course of its lifespan. Plant this in full shade to partial shade, and mulch well. This shrub has wonderful showy fall color from October to November.
Ilex glabra (Inkberry)
An evergreen shrub this will grow 2-12 feet tall with dense foliage. Tiny white flowers form from February to June and red berrylike fruit shows from September to November. It occurs in bogs/wetlands and would be a nice addition to a bog project with some Sarracenia.
Rhododendron prunifolium (Plumleaf Azalea)
This deciduous shrub can reach a height of 8-10 feet and be pruned to be a small tree. It is one of the last azaleas to bloom, having bright orange flowers in summer. Give this shrub a good moist acidic soil and partial shade. This azalea is a good choice to get hummingbirds to come visit. It was first collected in 1913 by RM Harper.
Rosa carolina (Carolina Rose)
This deciduous shrub was named for the state in which it was first verified. It will grow from 3-6 feet tall and will bloom pink flowers in May. This is a full sun loving rose. Hummingbird lovers should plant in groupings as it will attract them and butterflies. Rose hips (the fruit) are used as Vitamin C as they are 60 times as concentrated as lemons. Rose hips are also used as a treatment for upset stomachs, for making jelly, and for teas.
The above ten plants incorporate fine growing natives that are designed for the tempermental zones of 7 and 8. To get more information on southern native plants:
Gardening with Native Plants of the South by Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowski,
Taylor Publishing Company, ISBN 0878338020, February 1994
Georgia Native Plant Guide by Tina Samuels, Mercer University Press, ISBN to be released, Fall 2005
Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast: Landscaping Uses and Identification by Leonard Foote and Samuel Jones Jr. , Timber Press, Inc., ISBN 0881924164, March 1998