Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Evergreen Native Shrubs for the Southern Landscape

Shrubs can be evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous. Deciduous shrubs lose their leaves at the turn of the season, semi-evergreens may or may not keep their leaves depending on the temperature, and evergreens will keep their leaves. If you are looking for evergreen plants for your landscape, these are all native to the southern area of the United States.

Ilex glabra (L.) Gray (Inkberry)
An evergreen shrub this will grow six to 12 feet tall with dense foliage. Tiny white clustered flowers form from February to June and red berrylike fruit shows from September to November. Leaves are leathery, glossy and lance-like in appearance. It occurs in bogs/wetlands and would be a nice addition to a bog project with some Sarracenia. It prefers partial shade and wet or moist acidic soil. Propagate by seed or cuttings. WARNING: All Ilex species can be poisonous.

Ilex opaca Ait. (American holly)
This is an evergreen shrub/small tree that will reach maturity at up to 50 feet. Greenish-white flowers start in April and orange/red four-seeded fruits appear September to December. Foliage is dark green and matte in appearance. This fruit is loved by over 18 species of game and song birds, so this is a favorite for people creating birding sanctuaries. The holly is very shade tolerant but heavy shade will affect its crown area. It prefers acidic soil. Propagate by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. It is a larval host plant to the Henry’s Elfin butterfly. WARNING: All Ilex species can be poisonous.

Kalmia latifolia L. (Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush, Kalmia latifolia var. laevipes)
This evergreen shrub grows from 10 to 30 feet and prefers partial shade and moist soil. It will flower white bell-shaped blooms from March to June in a cluster, and fruit from September to October. Its fruiting produces small round brown pods that release seeds. Leaves are glossy, oval and leather-like. Medicinally it was used to treat bursitis, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. Its interesting crooked branches make it an interesting choice for your garden. It is a larval host plant to the Laurel Sphinx butterfly. WARNING: It is a poisonous plant due to andromedotoxin, a resinoid and arbutin, a glycoside.


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