WE’VE GOT THE DIRT ON THE NATIVE PLANTS YOU NEED
Story by Bailey Gilliam
Those who grew up living or vacationing here probably think native plants to be those beachy exotic beauties such as camellias, azaleas, confederate jasmine or crepe myrtles. Despite our fondness for them, they aren’t native to the area. Camellias came from China, azaleas from Japan and Confederate jasmine and crepe myrtles from Southeast Asia. While these plants are in abundance here, it’s time to consider planting some truly native plants as they require less attention, cost less and can benefit the local ecosystem. We’ve gathered the top seven plants you should add to your garden or landscaping. So turn over a new leaf, go native and incorporate these plants into your ecosystem.
This bright yellow daisy-like flower is the perfect addition to those wanting to add some cheer to their space. Not only are they ornamental, but they also attract birds and butterflies, help pollination and bee longevity and are deer resistant. These plants thrive in well-drained soil and can survive droughts. In other words, you won’t have to lift a finger to maintain these gorgeous blooms.
Another tough plant is the yucca. It is also known as the Spanish bayonet, which is no surprise due to its sharp exterior. Despite the tough exterior, it does produce pretty white flowers. It is easy to take care of as it requires very little water, and the deer leave it alone as well. If you’re feeling adventurous, the root of the plant is edible and full of nutrients. Small varieties can even be grown in pots indoors or out. This low-maintenance plant has an irresistible combination of strength and reliability, which makes it the perfect addition to any home.
These tough plants have scratchy spines, which make them uninteresting to deer and trample-resistant. Not only will they stand ground in your yard, but they also will serve as shelter for smaller creatures like copperheads. These taller bushes can serve as a beautiful backdrop for mixed borders or as a privacy hedge.
We’ve all stepped on this thorny grass when finding a way to the beach on an uncharted path. Though it’s a pain to pull out the small spikes from one’s bare feet, it is certainly not a pain to grow. Sandspur is a pioneer species that will grow in an immature, new or newly disturbed environment with no problem. They are essential here, as their roots help to hold sand in place and prevent beach erosion. These annuals are also edible grain used in porridge and flour production. And you only have to deal with brittle spikes during late summer and fall before they lose their sharp points. So if you aren’t keen on planting them, at least try to avoid removing them.
This well-mannered vine is prized for its spectacular display of fragrant, bright yellow flowers that climb beautifully without smothering surrounding trees and shrubs. Carolina jessamine makes a perfect addition to a trellis, bare tree, fence, wall or even an unsupported slope as an informal ground covering. It can disguise fences around tennis courts or swimming pools with ease. Environmentally friendly, this state flower attracts the company of butterflies and bumblebees as well as controls erosion.
There’s nothing better than the sweet smell of sweetgrass in the morning. This perennial grass has a purple, red and white base and can grow to around 30 inches tall. The inviting aroma produced by this plant is reminiscent of vanilla and warm hay and is sure to make your life a little sweeter. Despite its inviting smell, animals will not graze on it. This grass plays a vital role in our ecosystem, as it holds soil in place, as well as a cultural role, as it is traditionally used by natives for weaving works of art.
Beautyberry is an easily maintained shrub with loose and graceful arching branches covered in magenta and white berry clusters. This deciduous shrub can be planted in the fall or spring and does not attract any pests or diseases. Environmentally the seeds and berries are important for many species of birds, and the foliage is a favorite of white-tailed deer. Add beautyberry to your landscaping in the form of a beautiful border. LL