Saturday, January 8, 2011

Great plants for the novice southern gardener

Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtle photograph by Dawn Gagnon

When we buy our first home, there is usually an urge to put our own touches on it to make it truly our own. Either we start painting, or we add some special touches to the yard to improve it. Luckily there are some plants that a novice gardener can feel pretty confident about having success with. In Southern states like South Carolina, finding plants that can stand up to our somewhat harsh zone 8 conditions can be a real challenge.  This list will give you a few to try that should be able to fill the bill.

Easy to grow and care for plants for the new southern gardener...

 Crinum Americanum aka Swamp Lily
Crinum Americanum
Swamp Lily-Photograph by Dawn Gagnon

A relatively large growing lily, this plant can produce unique and exotic blossoms during the summer. Easy to grow, and very tough, this lily is a easy plant for any southern garden. Flowers are fragrant, come in a variety of colors such as pink, purple and white and will give you blooms until Autumn. They prefer moist soil, and full sun but can endure some drought.

English: Canna hybrida flower and foliage. Pic...English: Canna hybrida flower and foliage. Pictured in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Français : Pied de Canna (variété ‘hybrida’). Photo prise dans la province de Kilimanjaro, en Tanzanie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Cannas are tall, tropical and fast growing. They spread readily so be sure to plant them with that in mind. Flowers grow on top of long spikes in the midst of wide green leaves. They are usually a great plant to place in the background of shorter growing flowers. Beautiful along fences, and stunning colors, this plant is fairly easy to grow providing they get enough water. Put out a few beer traps at the base of their bed though, snails love this plant.
  Black Eyed Susan 

English: Black-eyed Susan blossom.Image via Wikipedia
These beautiful  flowers thrive in hot conditions and will not be afraid of the tough growing conditions most plants crumble under. If you enjoy an informal wild and casual garden these beauties can't be beat and you will no doubt have success with them as a first time gardener. Buy plants from a reputable garden center and follow the directions and get ready for some pretty results come summer.

Lantana- Photograph by Dawn Gagnon

 Lantana are beautiful and great for covering bare spots in any garden setting. They have vivid colors and can tolerate harsh growing conditions often seen in the south. Heat, and drought do not seem to affect this plant and they have a pungent aroma to boot. Bright colors of yellow, orange and red, among others will set your garden off and once they are planted, very little worry is in order. They will come back year after year and do their part in your garden to make it lovely. Butterflies will love this addition to your yard as well.


English: Garden phlox Français : Phlox panicul...English: Garden phlox Français : Phlox paniculé Latina: Phlox paniculata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Phlox are low growing, colorful and fragrant and start blooming in the early part of the summer months. They are most aromatic in the evening time. Many times this versatile, easy to grow flower is seen planted on either side of walk ways and as a border around garden beds. For beauty and ease of care, this lovely flower is a sure winner for the southern gardener.   
Liriope- Photograph by Dawn Gagnon
Liriope aka Monkey Grass, Spider Grass and Border Grass 

This is a tough little plant. Once established this border plant will definitely hold up. It does well along walk ways, flower beds and is seen all over southern landscapes. Make sure you plant these attractive plants where you want them to be permanently because they will not be easy to get rid of. A great way to line a flower bed.

Day Lily 
English: A red and yellow Daylily. Daylilies f...English: A red and yellow Daylily. Daylilies fall into the Hemerocallis genus plants. This color combination is generally called a Red Magic lily. Français : Une fleur d'hémérocalle rouge et jaune. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are few negatives that can be said for this adaptable perennial. They can grow in almost every zone in the US and you may have seen them even along roadsides. They spread easily, have stunning varieties of flowers and can endure heat and drought conditions with little problems. Once planted, these plants will not fail to give you blooms year in and year out. They require no special care, and will make any novice gardener seem like a pro. They are beautiful planted along fences, as a backdrop to low growing flowers and will fill a garden in no time.
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