Sunday, May 11, 2014

Awesome, Easy, Native Perennials for Georgia Gardens

This week is an outstanding week for blooming spring perennials. I was standing there admiring the cheerful collection of blooms on my mouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata) and I thought “Wow, more people should have this plant!” Then I took two steps and noticed the clouds of purple blooms on the beardtongue (Penstemon smallii) and thought the same thing.

Mouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata)

Come to think of it, there are a lot of very dependable native perennials that you might consider using. As always, take these as suggestions and do your own research as to availability, site suitability and native range for your area.  These are plants that I personally have found to be tolerant of a variety of conditions, forgiving in times of forgetfulness, and able to rebound after problems (like deer munching).

Penstemon smallii

So here are a few of my favorite ones that are particularly awesome and easy. It’s a surprisingly big list when you consider all the seasons.

Spring: foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), Solomon’s plume (Maianthemum racemosum) and our evergreen gingers (Hexastylis) are real standouts in part shade. Showier spring flowers include red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), beardtongue (Penstemon) and tickseed (Coreopsis). Most people have great success with blooming groundcovers like the native creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) and green ‘n’ gold (Chrysogonum virginianum).

Aquilegia canadensis

Rudbeckia hirta with spider and bee

Summer: Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and its orange coneflower relatives (R. fulgida), annual red salvia (Salvia coccinea), butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), pale bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), mountain mints (Pycnanthemum), wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) and spiderwort (Tradescantia). Shade tolerant superstars are black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and fly poison (Amianthium muscitoxicum).

Mountain mints (Pycnanthemum) are pollinator magnets!

Georgia aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum)

Fall: sunflowers (Helianthus), clump-forming goldenrods (Solidago), blazing stars (Liatris), thoroughworts (Eupatorium), and asters (Symphyotrichum). The blues, whites and yellows of fall flowers make for amazing combinations.

The late fall flowers of Helianthus angustifolius

Need more suggestions? Check out my other posts about spring and summer perennials (where for some reason I put beardtongue in the summer category). Hmm, I didn’t make a fall one? I need to add that to my list of things to do. I do have some posts on specific fall perennials like Helianthus, goldenrod (Solidago), and asters (Symphyotrichum).

Note: my perspective is from the Piedmont area of Georgia (Atlanta area). You can find some information about Coastal Plain plants on the publications area of the website for the Georgia Native Plant Society. Or search this website using the term Coastal Plain.

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