We are celebrating native plants in conjunction with National Planting Day on September 7, 2019! National Planting Day 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. Native plants are a natural and healthy way to create greener and more beautiful communities. Keep Liberty Beautiful, in conjunction with Keep America 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 those that are “naturally occurring, either presently or historically, in any ecosystem of the United States.” If you love to have birds and butterflies in your yard, you will want to consider using native plants. Natives are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects, which in turn 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 than other ornamentals, so if you are looking for a yard or garden that is much easier to maintain---and who isn’t?--- natives should be your go-to plants!
Here are a few of the natives plants that you might want to consider for your own garden paradise:
‘Shenandoah’ or red switch grass is truly a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy color, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaf color fades to beige. This luscious grass is a compact selection of an American native prairie grass that grows in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
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 on a fence.
The Carolina Yellow Jessamine is a fast growing evergreen climbing vine that grows best in moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Its yellow trumpet-shaped, fragrant flowers cover the vine in February and March. It is useful for growing on trellises, fences, or mailboxes.
The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a medium to fast growing flowering shrub that grows best in moist, well-drained soils in partial shade. Its large white, fragrant flower clusters are about 12” in length and occur from May through June. It is recommended to prune these plants after flowering season is over.
The Southern Wax Myrtle is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree. It is often multi-trunked, with gray-green aromatic foliage and clusters of blue-gray fruits on female plants. It prefers moist, acid soils but is adaptable to other conditions, including wet sites with poor drainage. The Wax Myrtle grows best in full sun to light shade and it is useful as a tall screen or specimen tree.
Star Anise is also 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 prefers full sun or light shade. It is cold tolerant. Theses shrubs are useful for screening or hedges.
Bottlebrush is also a southern favorite. Callistemon species have commonly been referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush-like flowers, which resemble a traditional bottle brush. They are quite striking. Most species are drought-resistant and are striking 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
Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) are native to North America and one of the most popular wildflowers grown. They can blanket open fields. Their golden-yellow flowers are beautiful.
Native plants are just waiting to help you create a beautiful and easy to care for garden oasis for your home. To learn more about native plants for our area, there are some excellent online resources that can help you choose the right native species for your upcoming project. Some online sites to consider are the web sites, www.plantnative.org (featuring a state-by-state directory of native species, specialized nurseries, and local organizations), www.abnativeplants.com, UGA’s Extension sites at www.caes.uga.edu , and the Georgia Native Plants society at www.gnps.org .
Check out our website: www.keeplibertybeautiful.org this month for more information on National Planting Day, using native plants and creating pollinator gardens. Our KLB website also has an easy to find list of the items that can be recycled at the quarterly Recycle it! Fairs on September 14, 2019 in Midway, Hinesville, and Walthourville as well as the Shred It! Day at the Health Department on September 14, 2019. You can contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved today.