Native plants grow more easily, provide food and shelter for many native creatures and help the environment. Consider branching out this planting season and creating a garden of plants native to Georgia. It's an easy way to bring many birds and butterflies to the yard. Create small areas of Georgia plants near a patio or porch, or have a few containers set with many native species. There are many to choose from, with the Georgia Native Plant Guide listing several, but here is a list of the top ten native plants for the landscape.
#1: Swamp milkweed
Botanically known as Asclepias incarnata, the swamp milkweed flower grows 2 to 4 feet high with deep pink or rose-purple flowers in terminals. Lance-like leaves are in an opposite pattern, and there are brown or tan seedpods. It flowers between June and October. Planting should be done in a full sun or partial shade area with a moist or wet soil. Propagate by dividing the plant or by seed.
#2: Trumpet creeper
The Campsis radicans, or trumpet creeper, is a vine that grows up to 35 feet long with deciduous leaves and ornamental flowers. Flowers are red, yellow or orange and look like trumpets; they appear anytime between June and September. There are brown pod fruits. Planting should be done in a full sun environment with a well-drained moist or dry soil. Propagate by root cuttings, seed or semi-hardwood cuttings.
#3: Rocky Mountain beeplant
Botanically known as Cleome serrulata, this annual grows four to five feet tall with raceme flowers that are pink, white or red-purple. Blooms will appear between July and September. Leaves are compound and there are slender seed capsules. Planting a Rocky Mountain beeplant should be done in full sun or in partial shade with a well-drained, dry soil. Propagate by seed.
#4: Catawba rosebay
The Catawba rosebay is botanically known as Rhododendron catawbiense. It is a shrub that grows 6 to 10 feet high and has pink, violet or red flowers that look like trumpets. Flowering is done between April and June. Leaves are evergreen and shiny. Plant in light shade and in a soil that is acidic. Propagate by seed.
#5: Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta, the black-eyed Susan, grows 1 to 2 feet high with green, oval leaves that are quite hairy. The blooms are daisy-like and yellow, with a dark center and rough stems. Blooms can be anytime between June and October. Plant in full sun to full shade with a moist or dry acidic soil that is well-drained. Propagate by stratified seed. This is one of the most common roadside Georgia native plants.
#6: Coastal live oak
Botanically known as Quercus virginiana, the coastal live oak grows 40 to 80 feet high and is laced with Spanish moss. Waxy leaves are deep green and there are large limbs that spread over the ground irregularly. Plant this tree in full sun or partial shade, and make sure the soil is moist. Propagate this Southern favorite by seed.
#7: Mountain azalea
Rhododendron canascens, the mountain azalea, grows between 6 and 15 feet high with pink flowers in the spring, typically between March and May. It has deciduous leaves that are green. It is a showy azalea and should be grown in well-drained, acidic soil and in partial shade. Propagate by seed.
#8: Birdfoot violet
The Viola pedata, better known as the birdfoot violet, has a growth of only 4 to 10 inches high. Deeply cut leaves adorn purple flowers that are pansy-like. Flowers appear between March and June. Plant in partial to full shade lighting and in dry, acidic soil. Propagate by seed or by root cuttings, with seed needing a week of cold-moist stratification.
#9: American wisteria
The Wisteria frutescens peppers the Georgia landscape with 25 to 30 foot long vines that have dark green leaves and flower clusters of pink, blue, purple, violet or white. The flowers appear between May and June and are quite fragrant. Plant in any lighting, from full sun to full shade, and in moist soil. Propagate by seed or by softwood cuttings.
#10: Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum, the great laurel, grows up to 30 feet high with crooked branches and bell-like flowers. Blooms are big, pink or white, and appear around June. Leathery leaves are dark blue-green in color. This tree should be planted in partial shade with a moist or wet, acidic soil. Propagate by seed.
Many Atlanta area landscapers can create a beautiful native garden for your yard or help you maintain the garden you have already. For the latest in native gardening design and techniques or Georgia plants, give a qualified landscaper a call.