Southern Native Plants For Year Round Interest

Throughout the seasons, these native trees and shrubs evolve to offer beauty and interest all year.

September 04, 2019
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Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: iStock/Najashots

Photo By: Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: photographer for Monrovia

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: photographer for Monrovia

Photo By: iStock/La-ong

Photo By: Courtesy of Monrovia

Photo By: photographer for Monrovia

Blueberry Fall Foliage

Choosing regional natives to plant in the landscape is one way to ensure gardening success. These native beauties will do more than simply thrive in the hot, humid summers and moderate winters of the Southeast. Each selection has wonderful aesthetic characteristics to recommend it for year round appeal.

River Birch

River birch is a tough-as-nails specimen tree that is widely used for its multi-stemmed habit and light green, airy foliage. It grows well in a wide variety of locations from business parks to residential settings.

River Birch Bark

The papery, peeling bark of river birch is perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic. It appears in shades of copper, salmon, orange and pink on trunks and branches. The effect is increased when viewed against an evergreen screen.

Bald Cypress

Bald cypress is unique in that it is a conifer, yet it is not evergreen. Its medium green needles take on a golden hue before turning copper and shedding in fall. In winter, the red, vertically-peeling bark of the trunk is particularly striking.

Southern Magnolia

The two obvious, most desirable characteristics of the southern magnolia — huge white, sweetly scented flowers in summer and evergreen foliage — are augmented by rosy colored, felted, artichoke-like fruits. In late summer and fall the fruits ripen to reveal scarlet seeds which are eagerly devoured by squirrels and cardinals.

Cherry Laurel

The Carolina cherry laurel is a wonderful broad-leaved evergreen screen. The glossy, deep green leaves are a perfect backdrop for panicles of white blooms in spring. In fall, blue-black berries are borne until eaten by birds.

Yaupon Holly

Yaupon holly, in its natural state, is an upright, broad-leaved evergreen shrub, reaching fifteen to twenty feet tall. In the landscape, it may also be found in the form of weeping yaupon or dwarf yaupon. The weeping form and the commercially available upright forms produce shiny red berries in fall which are held through winter, and are eagerly sought by a variety of birds. The dwarf varieties do not produce berries, but often have a blush of red in young shoots.

Sassafras Foliage

Sassafras is well known for the fact that it displays three different leaf shapes on one plant: an oval leaf, a three-lobed leaf, and a mitten shaped leaf. It is also known in many areas for the tea once popularly made from it’s roots. It should also be well known for its intense fall colors of golden, orange and fiery red.

Sassafras Flower

CI-Bailey-Nurseries-Sassafras-Sassafras Albidum-Flower.jpg

Sassafras is not as well known for its delicate yellow spring flowers. They are often overlooked because of adjacent redbuds and dogwoods that tend to steal the show.

Blueberry Flower

Blueberries produce delicate spring flowers, gorgeous fall foliage, interesting exfoliating bark on mature stems and bright red young shoots in winter.

Blueberry Fruit

In summer, blueberries offer fruit and foliage to please people and wildlife alike.

Drooping Leucothoe

Drooping leucothoe, including ‘Rainbow’ pictured here, is an evergreen shrub suitable for foundation plantings or shrub borders in shaded areas. In spring, it produces fountains of tiny white blooms reminiscent of lily-of-the-valley flowers

Dwarf Fothergilla

Dwarf fothergilla blooms in late winter, before leaves appear. In summer, the blue-green leaves blend into the landscape before turning golden or orange in fall. The tightly branched structure of this hazel relative offers winter interest even without leaves.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Flower

Oakleaf hydrangea is well known for its huge flower panicles, long-lasting leaves, beautiful maroon fall (early winter) leaf color, and late leaf drop. Additionally, its mature branches have an exfoliating effect which leaves streaks of tan and red visible through winter.

Oakleaf Hydrangea Fall Foliage

Oakleaf hydrangea is often one of the last shrubs to finally drop its leaves in late fall. The bright red to deep maroon leaves may persist into the new year before giving way.

Spanish Bayonet Yucca

Spanish bayonet is the native yucca that may be found along roadsides throughout the Southeast. Its evergreen foliage offers a coarse grassy effect that may be used to either soften or highlight a part of the landscape. In early summer, hummingbirds are attracted to the large flower clusters that appear atop spikes produced from the center of the plant.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain laurel is the South’s answer to Appalachia’s rhododendrons. It is found in woods, on creek banks and at old homesteads offering evergreen foliage and an explosion of color for a few weeks each spring.

Virginia Sweetspire

Sweetspire is a deciduous shrub that produces creamy white flower panicles in early summer, deep red or burgundy fall foliage and bright red winter stems. It is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds when in bloom.

Virginia Sweetspire Flower

Native trees and shrubs are well adapted to the soils and climates of the region. Many are also habitat staples for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. For a high degree of gardening success and for beauty and interest throughout the year, native plants are hard to beat.

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