By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Keep Liberty Beautiful: Celebrate native species on National Planting Day
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell.

Dr. Karen Bell

Keep Liberty Beautiful

On Thursday, September 1, Keep Liberty Beautiful will have a booth at the Farmers Market in downtown Hinesville to give away plants. We celebrate native plants to kick off the fall planting season.

National Planting Day on Saturday, September 12, is a reminder for all of us to celebrate the value and power of native species for local landscapes. Native plants are essential in restoring ecological balance to our environment and are a natural and healthy way to create greener and more beautiful communities. Keep Liberty Beautiful encourages everyone to learn more about their native plants and to consider planting native species of trees, flowers and plants in their own yards.

What makes a native plant a native? There are many definitions out there, but we usually adhere to the “official” definition in the Federal Register, defining native plants as “naturally occurring, either presently or historically, in any ecosystem of the United States.” If you love birds and butterflies in your yard, you will want to consider using native plants. Natives are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects, which provide food for birds and, ultimately, many more animals up the food chain. Natives also provide habitat for wildlife. Natives are hardy, lower maintenance, and require less water, so if you are looking for a yard or garden that is much easier to maintain, natives should be your go-to plants!

Here are a few of the native plants that you might want to consider for your own garden paradise:

• Trumpet Honeysuckle likes sun or part shade. This native vine grows rapidly. It has gold to scarlet red tubular flowers from spring through summer. It is so pretty to use on a trellis or fence.

• Carolina Yellow Jessamine is a fast-growing evergreen climbing vine that grows best in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Its yellow trumpet- shaped, fragrant flowers cover the vine in February and March. It grows well on trellises, fences and mailboxes.

• The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a medium- to a fast-growing flowering shrub that grows best in moist, well-drained soil in partial shade. Its primarily white, fragrant flower clusters are about 12 inches in length and occur from May through June. It is recommended to prune these plants after the flowering season is over.

• Star Anise is one of my favorites. It has rich green foliage with the smell of anise — almost a licorice scent. The blooms in June are small yellow- green flowers. Star Anise prefers moist soil and full sun or light shade. It is cold tolerant. These shrubs are useful for screening or hedges.

• Bottlebrush is also a southern favorite. Callistemon species have been referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush-like flowers that resemble a traditional bottle brush. They are striking. Most species are drought-resistant and are fantastic when used in ornamental landscaping.

• Milkweed is one of the keys to having monarch butterflies — for their survival now and in the future. Monarch caterpillars must have milkweed. Because of modern changes, such as suburbanization, there’s much less milkweed than there was in the past.

• Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is native to North America and is one of the most popular wildflowers. These flowers can blanket open fields. Their golden-yellow flowers are beautiful.

Native plants are just waiting to help you create a beautiful and easy-tocare garden oasis for your home. To learn more about native plants for our area, some excellent online resources can help you choose the suitable native species for your upcoming project. Some online sites to consider are www. (featuring a state-by-state directory of native species, specialized nurseries, and local organizations), www.abnativeplants. com, UGA’s Extension sites at www., and the Georgia Native Plants society at

Check out our website, www.keeplibertybeautiful. org, this month for more information on National Planting Day, using native plants, and creating pollinator gardens.

Sign up for our e-newsletters