Southern Natives Blog

Plants that have adapted to the local climate and the conditions of the soil in areas of where they naturally occur are considered to be native. In a gardener's eyes, these plants are a goldmine!

With several advantages, including easier overall care, native plants are a prime choice when it comes to adding to a landscape. But where does one begin to decide on which native plants to plant?

We’ve laid out our top 5 native plant picks for the southern region in this blog so the choice is plain and simple! In the south, the average temperature increases substantially, which means plants have to be able to take the heat, quite literally. 

The map shown below gives you an idea of where the various growing zones are across North America. If you live in the green, these native plants are just the ones for you! 

Southern Region

Plump and plentiful purple giant beautyberry

Plump & Plentiful Purple Giant Beautyberry | Callicarpa 'Kolmapurgi'

This purple blasting shrub is a new and improved cultivar of the well known native shrub, American Beautyberry (callicarpa americana). It has now sprung into America's true beauty. The pink blossoms that flow from the branches support several beneficial pollinators. 

By placing just one Plump & Plentiful Purple Giant Beautyberry in the landscape, you are creating the pollinator hangout of the century. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds will keep coming back for more and more of the sweet nectar!

A few birds will even stop by to snatch a purple berry or two as well. 

Quick Care Tips:

  • Plant in a full sun or partial shade area with well-draining soil. They like the soil to stay moist, but not soaked with water. 
  • In drier climates, place mulch over their root system to help trap in moisture!

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butterfly weed plant

Butterfly Weed | Asclepias tuberosa

Be a proud owner of a ‘Perennial Of The Year’ award winner! Need we say more? The Butterfly Weed has some of the showiest native flowers that burst with orange and yellow blossoms. We like to mix anywhere from one to three into garden borders. 

Then, you’ll surely have a new and improved butterfly garden on your hands! This native plant is known for its ability to provide for butterflies, specifically Monarchs, with a home for caterpillars and nectar source. 

However, hummingbirds and honey bees will also be seen dancing around the bold flowers for a quick sip of the nectar provided by the native Butterfly Weed. It’s a pollinator party! 

Since it’s easy to care for, rock gardens outlining a path or house are constantly calling this native plant’s name. Even with the thin soil below the rocks, a Butterfly Weed will continue to bring vibrance year after year. 

It’s durable for the southern heat and soil and will continue to attract beneficial pollinators. The Butterfly Weed is a gardener’s favorite and is sure to be a favorite of yours.

Quick Care Tips:

  • Water like normal throughout the first year of it being established. After the first growing season, your perennial becomes more drought tolerant and becomes much less dependent upon you for watering.
  • It really just wants to bask in the sun rays day after day! Be sure to plant it somewhere that the sun always shines, or shines for at least 6 hours. 
  • Dry, thin, well-drained, and even rocky soils are tolerated. However, it does not enjoy being planted in rich soil that stays damp. 

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Eastern Redbud

Eastern Redbud | Cercis canadensis

The south eastern states are not newbies when it comes to growing the classic Eastern Redbud. This native tree holds pink early spring flowers, a mellow fall color and a seed-filled winter interest. 

You may have spotted this redbud growing naturally along creeks and rivers or even in Texas! The pink flowers are normally hard to miss, born along the stems and lasting for weeks. We like to place them near a large evergreen tree for a pop of color display.

With being native, restoration projects and landscapes see the Eastern Redbud as a prime choice. So, join the action and use this ornamental tree along property lines or as a garden border. Not only are you creating an exquisite yard, but also helping the native plants!

Quick Care Tips:

  • They appreciate being planted in well-drained soil. When they are young and still being established, be sure to water regularly. 
  • If in a warmer climate, place mulch around the base of the trunk to help shield from the hot sun. 
  • Don’t let the bare branches fool you. More often than not, Eastern Redbuds are slow to send out leaves in the spring, but pink clusters will soon engulf the tree. 

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Southern Live Oak

Southern Live Oak | Quercus virginiana

Without a doubt, a Southern Live Oak is an iconic classic monster in the south! It is the state tree of Georgia and can be seen growing naturally from Florida to Texas. When established in a yard, it won’t go unrecognized. 

This dark green oak tree keeps its appearance alive year round and is expected to live for over 200 years! Not to mention, this large native tree can also serve as a home to other epiphytic plants. 

At times, Spanish moss will be seen elegantly draping off the Southern Live Oak in weeping garlands. This only gives the tree a more unique appearance that is distinctive in any garden.

Style it as a single native specimen that brings more shade than you can imagine. A nice hanging hammock or a pair of Adirondack chairs underneath the low branches is a must for relaxation. 

A Southern Live Oak is the perfect addition to a wildlife garden in the works. The acorns grown serve as an abundant food source for all types of birds. You’ll have a blast keeping track of the various kinds that pay a visit.

Wild turkeys may even find themselves taking shelter under the low branches of this large oak. Rest assured, there is room for everyone under this tree!

Quick Care Tips:

  • It is extremely hardy as it is resistant to pests and diseases.
  • Plant it in a large area that gives the branches room to stretch out their limbs. Preferably in a full sun or partial shade spot. 
  • Don’t fret about high humidity or coastal conditions as the Southern Live Oak has adapted well into liking these southern environments. 

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Pink Muhly Grass

Pink Muhly Grass | Muhlenbergia capillaris

With the ability to easily sustain heat, droughts and humidity, it is no surprise that the cotton candy look-alike, Pink Muhly Grass, is a go-to choice for the south when trying to grow in poor soils. 

This native ornamental grass serves as an attractive summer garden border, but it also holds four entire seasons of interest for the landscape as well! Be sure to place it somewhere that can be admired year round by yourself and your neighbors. 

Don’t be surprised if a few chirping birds stop by to snack on the seed pods of this grass! They only will add to the overall native nature feeling.

Quick Care Tips:

  • The type of soil is not something to worry about! The Pink Muhly Grass will grow in all types of soil in various locations. 
  • Plant it in either full sun or partial shade. 

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It’s truly a no brainer! These 5 natives are the best of the best for the south when it comes to gardening. Pick a favorite, mix and match, or even plant all five! But we know that they won’t let you down. 

Not in the southern region? Be on the lookout for future blogs covering the best native plants for the North, East and West as well!

Happy gardening!