Essential South Carolina Plants to Add to Your Garden | Home and garden
The Blue Ridge Mountains stretch across the Upstate, and the Lowcountry beaches keep the city’s airport and record-breaking traffic busy. The hills of the Midlands and Pee Dee are giving way to farms amidst ever-growing industrial expansion.
Each region has its own character, and with it its own brand of flora.
Clemson Natural Heritage Park contains a microcosm of the state’s plant life that can be visited year-round. You can always create a garden made up of some gems from the various unique regions of the state if you prefer to enjoy them in your own backyard.
Consider adding some of these flowers to an existing garden, or try creating a garden made up entirely of staples as a fun project.
Low Country: Black-Eyed Susans
These perennials are good for beginners because instead of dying over the winter, they bolt over and retain the natural foliage that grows on their stems.
“You may know the terminology, you may know this is going to come back or it’s going to die,” shared Dave Manger, owner of Roots & Shoots Nursery in West Ashley. “But when you’re visually looking at your garden and you’re new to it, you want visual proof that your plant is still alive.”
Featuring bright yellow and sometimes gold petals and a black seed center, Susans grow best in moist, well-drained soil and full sun but can need a little shade. It usually blooms beginning during the coming early summer months.
The flowers can be seen throughout the Charleston area in people’s yards and parks, Manger said. The plants are the most popular among the plants he sells, with up to hundreds of varieties for sale at Roots and Shoots.
They’re perfect for beginners, because you can put them anywhere and they’ll be happy, Manger said.
Pee de: camellia
Camellias can be seen throughout Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville, which itself is witnessing a battle between invasive and native plant species at play within it.
Camellias are one of Miss May’s Folly plants, the term given to one woman’s dream of transforming a once-neglected plot of land into what it can be seen today. These flowers like well-drained soil with consistent protection from afternoon sun.
Quick heads up: Start planting these plants now, especially if you’re in the Pee Dee area. Planting over the winter means less watering and deeper development of the plant’s roots in the ground, said Lisa King, who runs garden consulting company Leaf and Garden.
Camellias can bloom in early spring, late fall and winter depending on their species, and bloom in colors ranging from white to pink to red. Japanese camellias, which typically thrive in cool weather, prefer some light shade when planted.
The first camellias were brought to South Carolina by Frenchman André Michaux, who was King Louis One of the original camellia plants today – a double red camellia known as the Reine des Fleurs, or Queen of Flowers, dominates over 4,000 camellias on the farm.
Upstate: Penstemon Smooth
Christina Bruner owns Carolina Wild Native Wildflower Nursery in Anderson, just over an hour from the mountains. She calls the perennial Penstemon, with its long white bulbs hanging from the stem, “the workhorse plant.”
The native plant usually blooms in late spring or early summer and can be found on the way up into the mountains and prefers full sun to light shade. Bruner cautions against overwatering the plant, and echoed King’s sentiments about fewer, but longer, watering sessions that promote deeper root growth.
“The most important thing is to give them good drainage,” Brunner said.
Midlands: Raulston Hardy
This shrub-like plant and its flowers are perfect for matching a home’s foundation, said Lori Watson, who owns Mill Creek Greenhouses in Columbia.
However, getting the plant from Mill Creek can be a challenge. These native plants have been flying off the shelves for the past two and a half years, Watson said.
“People buy them all the time,” Watson said.
Watson said she has a few drought-tolerant plants in front of her house and rarely touches them. The white flowers will bloom in April but will also bloom into the fall and sometimes into the spring. However, it can retain its leaves during mild winters.
The plant can tolerate a range of temperatures and soil conditions, but remember to plant it in full sun or partial shade.
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