Eddie Siegel: Native Plants Can Provide Excellent Results | Lifestyles

September has gotten off to a rolling start and it’s almost halfway through the month. Autumn is just days away! As you continue your landscape planning, consider using native plants because they are better adapted to local conditions and environmental factors. Native plants are those species that have evolved naturally in an area without human intervention.

Landscaping with native plants enables gardeners to care for nature and enhance the local environment while adding appeal and diversity to their land. Proper use of native plants in urban and suburban areas can provide excellent results with great appeal. Once these native plants are established, they will survive well under average annual rainfall. The Southeast receives between 40 and 80 inches of rain per year, depending on your area.

Write down each plant’s preferred soil conditions and share them with the soil in your landscape. Matching natives to the right conditions will help reduce irrigation needs in your landscape and create a wildlife-friendly environment. The following native plants include such icons as the southern live oak tree and Carolina jasmine vine.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is native to southeastern Texas and Oklahoma, east to Florida and north to Maryland. Beautyberry is fairly easy to grow, non-aggressive and offers bright purple fruit in the fall. It is an excellent wildlife attractant, attracting pollinators in the spring and birds in the fall and grows best in full sun shade and moist soil conditions.

Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is native to the southeast from Virginia to Tennessee, Florida and Texas. It is a very hardy flowering vine but is not invasive, like kudzu and wisteria. Its twin legs need a support system to turn and climb. It works well on a trellis, arbor, or on a wall. It blooms in early spring and its beautiful yellow flowers appear on its evergreen leaves. It grows best in full sun and moist soil conditions.

Crimson-eyed rosemary (Hibiscus moscheutos) is native to the Southeast, East, and Midwest. A very good perennial herbaceous plant, which grows in moist soil near streams, ponds and swamps. There are many types of hibiscus from the non-native Rose of Sharon to tropical hibiscus species that prefer heat and do not like wet soil conditions. Among the many types of hibiscus, crimson-eyed rosemary is an excellent choice due to its adaptability and ease of maintenance. It grows best in full sun and moist soil conditions.

The fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) is a specimen native to the Southeast and is hardy in cold areas. It is a small flowering tree with an aromatic scent. It offers lacy white flowers in spring and vivid purple fruits in fall. It grows best in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil conditions.

Inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are native to Florida to New York, and to the Midwest to New Mexico. This perennial ornamental grass is native to shaded streams and riverbanks east of the Rocky Mountains.

It offers flat leaves on slender stems and flower heads that develop into light, papery, golden-brown seeds in the fall. It grows best in partial shade and moist soil conditions.
The Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canisens) is native to North Carolina and Tennessee south to central Florida and west to east Texas. It is one of the most popular and readily available deciduous azalea shrubs. Its white and light pink flowers appear in the spring just before its leaves appear, revealing its branched structure. This azalea grows best in partial shade in acidic and moist soil conditions.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa Repens) is native from South Carolina to Florida and west to Texas.

It is an excellent choice for use on slopes and coastal areas where there is room to spread out. It is slow growing and drought tolerant. Use caution when choosing a place to plant saw palmetto because it cannot be easily removed once established. It grows best in full sun in dry, sandy soil conditions.

The southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is native to coastal areas of the Southeast, from Virginia to the Florida Keys, to the Gulf Coast and to coastal Texas. As a large canopy tree, the southern live oak is a distinctive and highly regarded tree. Traditionally, it was used along wide country lanes to colonial homes. Today it is used as a street tree and forms huge canopies in lawns throughout the South. The best time to plant live oak trees was thirty years ago (the next best time is now) and they grow best in full sun in well-drained soil conditions.

The southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is native to growing throughout the Carolinas, Georgia, north-central Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and on the east coast of Texas.

It is a magnificent large flowering tree with attractive evergreen foliage. It’s deep, glossy green leaves with rusty red undersides and drooping fruit make the southern magnolia an excellent ornamental specimen. It grows best in full sun and well-drained soil conditions.

And don’t forget the red maple and flowering dogwood. Using native and sustainable plants in the landscape is very important. Over the past few years, many exotic and natural plants have been selected and used in our landscapes. It is important to be aware of the potential invasiveness of such plants. Many of these plants have invaded our landscapes and displaced native populations. Learn more about native plants and realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be the foundation of all your home landscaping activities. Happy September!!!

“Call upon me, and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things which you have not known.” -Jeremiah 33:3. “Arise and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. “Blessed be your majestic name, exalted above all blessing and praise.” – Nehemiah 9:5. “Teach us to rightly number our days, and we will gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12. “We were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.” – Job 8:9. “No one should seek his own good, but the good of others.” – 1 Corinthians 10:24.

Eddie Seagle is Sustainability Auditor, Golf Environment (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Alumnus Emeritus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Distinguished Professor of Teaching and Learning (University System of Georgia) and Short Missionary Range (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to csi_seagle@yahoo.com.

    (tags for translation) Botany 

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