The Southeast United States is home to some beautiful places to visit. These locations are home some incredible native plants thriving with little recognition.
Today, we'll talk about five native plants from the Southeast United States. Native plants are defined as plants that have been established in a given area for hundreds of years. This definition is often paired with a geographic location, like the Southeast US. It is challenging to pinpoint an exact geographical boundary, as plants do not follow the same boundaries people do, so we will just limit it to the Southeast in general - zones 7 through 10.
Evergreen - American Holly
American Holly is relatively easy to distinguish in a landscape, especially in the winter. With its evergreen leaves and bright red fruits, American holly provides a food source for birds in the winter. It can reach up to 50 feet in height in ideal conditions, but will also thrive in shady conditions, making it an excellent multi-use plant.
Deciduous Tree - Sourwood
Reaching over 30 feet tall, delicate white flowers in mid-summer similar to lily-of-the-valley flowers, and dramatic red foliage in the fall, sourwood trees are sure to captivate your interest all year round. Bees favor sourwood trees, and high-end gourmet chefs desire the honey for it's unique and tasty characteristics. It is best used as an ornamental shade tree, as its dense foliage provides incredible shade in the summer.
Shrub - Sweetshrub
In May, sweetshrub's red flowers smell incredibly sweet and delicate, reminiscent of pineapple and strawberries. As the seasons progress, the flowers give way to brown, urn-shaped pods before the plant turns yellow in the fall. Sweetshrub can be expected to grow from six to nine feet in both height and width, and is often used as a specimen or in native plantings. It is also known as Carolina allspice.
Flowering perennial - Bee Balm
If flower's that echo fireworks in the sky are something you're hoping to have in your landscape, look no further than bee balm. With colors ranging from light pinks to purples to deep reds, bee balms summer-blooming flowers are sure to provide that pop of color your yard has been missing. Beyond that, it is a coveted pollinator plant, but resistant to deer and rabbit feedings.
Grass - Big Bluestem
With seed heads reminiscent of turkey feet, big bluestem provides a punch to any landscape, standing anywhere from four to seven feet tall. Blue stems in the spring and summer make it an attractive contrast to any landscape and looks fantastic within a massed planting or in a pot.
Using these plants in your landscapes not only provide beauty to your space but also enrich the habitat available to native and adapted creatures by providing them shelter and food opportunities. They are already adapted to the soils and climate of the area, increasing their chances of success. Be amazed at how they thrive and watch the wildlife around you thrive as well.
To see our favorite native plants for other regions, check out these articles: Native Plants for the Northeast Native Plants for the Upper Midwest Native Plants for the Southern Midwest Native Plants for the Southwest Native Plants for the Northwest