Many homeowners are apt to choose the newest, most “In Trend” plant material. But these choices have a shorter lifespan and require more maintenance, irrigation, and fertilizers. I prefer using timeless native varieties that are already adapted to our climate.
Here are my top 10 native plants that I love to use in Southern gardens.
1. Buckeye – Aesculus pavia
A beautiful deciduous shrub or small tree. It has red blooms and a leafy texture. They do really well with Magnolia, Beech trees, and Oakleaf Hydrangeas because of pH, water, texture and shade necessity.
2. Piedmont Azalea – Rhododendron canescens
It is a specimen deciduous shrub. It has pink fragrant blooms and a fine leaf texture. This shrub works really well near other acid loving, heavy textured plants.
3. Swamp Maple – Acer rubrum
Also named Red Maple. It is a very common tree used in the American landscape. It has excellent fall color and is great for creating shade and controlling views. This tree is good to use in soil types that do not drain well.
4. Oakleaf Hydrangea – Hydrangea quercifolia
This is a strong “go to” plant for me because of its proven adaptability and success. It has an amazing white bloom, beautiful fall foliage, and can handle an array of sun requirements.
5. Dwarf Witch Alder – Fothergilla gardenii
This plant is another great landscape plant for its beautiful white flowers, nice shape that it naturally keeps, and its ease of maintenance. It is a bit more sensitive to moisture and light requirements so make sure it is used in the right spot before planting.
Clockwise from top: American Beech, Serviceberry and Yaupon Holly
6. American Beech – Fagus americana
Mid story tree is a beautiful addition to any estate type property or anywhere you are trying to add a sense of maturity. It has great papery white bark and holds its yellow leaves all winter. This tree is very unique in its characteristics and once established, can handle virtually no water.
7. Wax Myrtle – Myrica cerifera
One of my favorite landscape plants can act as understory trees or screening shrubs. It is best NOT to fertilize this plant because it creates its own Nitrogen from the air. It also does really well in high and dry sites all the way down to wetland areas. It also has a great fragrance and is semi-evergreen.
8. Standard Yaupon Holly – Ilex vomitoria
This shrub is one that I have just started using a good bit. It originally had a bad taste in my mouth due to its over used variety “Nana” (Dwarf Yaupon). I have found that it is a great screening shrub to small tree that is virtually bullet proof (It is a tough plant when it comes to water and sun necessity).
9. American Alumroot – Heuchera Americana
Great full shade perennial. Deer typically leave this alone because of its abundance in the wild. It is mainly used for its showy foliage and the success it has in the modern landscape. This, just like most of my list today, needs very little supplemental water once established.
10. Serviceberry – Amelanchier arborea
It is also called “shadbush”, which to fishermen, indicate when the shad (bait fish) are most active in the rivers. It is also widely accepted in the modern landscape for its white flowers, red berries, silver bark and fall color. This is not the toughest plant on my list today, but is still very well equipped for our climate.