Thursday, April 19, 2012

Five Easy to Grow Native Plants for the Prairie Garden

Prairie or wildflower gardens are great to have around borders of properties or even in a field that the owners would rather not mow. These five native plants are great easy growing plants that work well in any native, wildflower, prairie garden environment. Also, planting them around a pool or water structure will be nice as well. If you are looking to plant them around a pool, don't forget to look at to get pool tips and safety advice.

Waldsteinia fragarioides

Common Name: Appalachian Barren Strawberry, Barren Strawberry

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: Growing under a foot tall, the Appalachian barren strawberry has basal leaves and yellow flowers that have a bloom season of April through June. Stalks are without leaves and the leaves are evergreen.

Planting Guide: Waldsteinia fragarioides prefers sunny to partial shade conditions and moist or dry soil. It does very well in dry soil conditions.

Propagation: Appalachian barren strawberry is propagated by clump division or by seed.

History: The fruits are not edible or fleshy like a real strawberry and cannot be substituted for them.

Warnings: There are no known toxicities or problems with this plant.

Distribution: Waldsteinia fragarioides is found in AL, AR, CT, GA, IL, IN, ME, MD, KY, MN, MO, NH, NY, NJ, NC, OH, PA, TN, SC, VT, VA, WI and WV.

Sorghastrum nutans

Common Name: Yellow Indian Grass

Synonym: Sorghastrum avenaceum

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: Yellow Indian grass grows 3 to 8 feet high with blue-green foliage and a gold-brown seed head. The foliage changes to deep orange or even purple in the fall. Leaves are broad and the seed heads are on large and plume-like. Flowers are yellow and arrive August through October. Its flowering parts have a bit of metallic-gold tint.

Planting Guide: Sorghastrum nutans is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 8. It is quite adaptable and does well in any lighting and any soil. For best growth, a moist rich well-drained soil is preferable. Tolerances include acid to alkaline soil, poorly drained to over-drained soil, and hard clay to loose sand soils.

Propagation: Yellow Indian grass is propagated by seed that is gathered in the fall. Sow 1/4 inch deep into the ground with either stratified seed in the spring or unstratified seed in the fall.

History: Yellow Indian grass is used to control wind erosion and for some roadside cover. It also makes a very good food for deer and livestock, either alone or mixed with other seed.

            It is a larval host to the Pepper-and-salt skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon) butterfly.

Warnings: There are no known pests or problems with this grass. There are also no known toxicities.

Distribution: Sorghastrum nutans is found in AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, WY and DC.

Chasmanthium latifolium

Common Name: Indian Wood Oats, River Oats, Inland Sea Oats, Flathead Oats

Synonym: Uniola latifolia

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: Indian wood oats grows 2 to 4 feet high with oat-like flower spikelets that are on the ends of arching branches. Foliage is bamboo-like and blue-green that will change into a yellow-gold in the fall. Seed heads are large and turn ivory in the summer. By fall, seed heads are brown and by February are gray.

Planting Guide: Chasmanthium latifolium is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 4 through 9. It should be planted in partial to full shade with moist acidic soils. Desired pH ranges for the soil should be between 5 and 7, with at least 160 frost-free days. It will tolerate poor-drained soils and clay. Full sun will yellow the grass if not majorly watered.

Propagation: Indian wood oats is propagated by seed or by root division. For seed, collect in the fall. It will germinate easily.

History: Its seed stalks have been dried and used in many floral arrangements. It is also good for cover for small wildlife and a food source for some birds and mammals. Seeds and leaves both make for food sources. It can also be a source of nesting items for birds.

            Indian wood oats is a larval host for the Pepper-and-salt skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon) butterfly, the Bronzed roadside skipper (Amblyscirtes aenus) butterfly, Linda’s roadside skipper (Amblyscirtes linda) butterfly and the Bells roadside skipper (Amblyscirtes belli) butterfly.

Warnings: There are no known disease or pest problems with this plant.

Distribution: Chasmanthium latifolium is found in AL, AZ, AR, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI and DC.

Thalictrum pubescens

Common Name: King of the Meadow

Synonyms: Thalictrum polygamum

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: Growing 3 to 8 feet high, this plant has rounded lobed leaves and cream flowers. Flowers do not have petals but the numerous white stamens have an airy effect. Bloom season is from June through August.

Planting Guide: Thalictrum pubescens should be planted in partial shade and moist acidic soil.

Propagation: King of the meadow is propagated by seed or offsets. Seed should be sown as soon as they are ripe. Offsets should be separated either in spring or fall when the plant is dormant.

History: It attracts butterflies and bees to the landscape.

Warnings: This plant isn’t plagued with much disease or pest issues.

Distribution: Thalictrum pubescens is found in CT, AL, DE, GA, IN, IL, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, NH, NY, NJ, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA, WV and DC.

Asimina triloba

Common Name: Pawpaw, Indian Banana, Common Paw Paw

Synonyms: Annona triloba

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: This small tree can also be a multi-stem shrub and grows 10 to 40 feet high. Leaves are big and have a tropical look with a rusty down cover. They are bright green and turn yellow-green in the fall. Flowers are purple and 6-petaled. Fruits are edible, large, and dark-green or yellow. Bloom season is April through May.

Planting Guide: Asimina triloba should be grown in any lighting and moist semi-acidic soil.

Propagation: Pawpaw is propagated by seed that has been scarified and had a 60 to 90 day cold stratification. Others in the horticulture field say it is possible to do root cuttings or layering for propagation as well.

History: Fruits have a banana-like taste and have been used by European settlers as food.             Pawpaw can also be a larval host plant for the Zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) butterfly and the Pawpaw sphinx (Dolba hyloeus) butterfly.

            It was first recorded as a species in 1541 by the DeSoto expedition in Mississippi.

Warnings: There are no insect or disease problems.

            Fruit can cause skin irritation and stomach trouble. Fruit and leaves are poisonous if ingested.

Distribution: Asimina triloba is found in AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IL, IA, IN, KS, KY, MD, LA, MI, MS, NE, NY, NJ, NC, OK, OH, PA, SC, TX, TN, VA, WV, WI and DC.

This list has a little bit of everything for the native gardener, from flowering plants to tress, ornamental grasses to ground covers. All are low maintenance plants that will need little attention. Some will even bring butterflies into your landscape.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Native Wildflowers With Bell-Like Flowers

There are times when a gardener likes a specific type of flowering bloom. For those that like the bell-like blooms, these native wildflowers and plants will surely aim to please. They are all native to the United States and having dainty bell-shaped flowers. When you go to gather seeds for your garden, don't forget about the drug store savings that you can find rather than traditional seed businesses.

Mertensia virginica (L.) Pers. ex Link (Virginia Bluebells)

This lovely plant will get up to two feet tall and have blue bell-like flowers (pink in the bud). It will bloom March through June. Leaves are gray-green and smooth. Fruits are yellow-brown and hold the seed. It prefers moist humus rich soil and partial to full shade. You can use seed or rhizome division to propagate. Seed should be cold moist stratified before planting.

Polygonatum biflorum (Walt.) Ell. (Smooth Solomon’s Seal)

This member of the Lily Family reaches one to three feet in height. It has small white bell-like flowers from April to June and bluish black berries from August to October. Foliage is unique in that it has a fuzzy underside. Early colonists used the root tea for indigestion and coughing.

Uvularia grandiflora Sm. (Merrybells, Largeflower Bellwort)

Merrybells grow under 12 inches tall with bell-like flowers and pale green leaves. Nodding flowers bloom yellow in May. It is a clump-forming perennial that prefers shade and moist rich soil. Propagate by seed or division. If by seed, don’t let them dry out before planting. If by division, do so in fall or spring.

Uvularia sessilifolia L. (Wild Oats, Straw Lily, Spreading Bellwort)

Wild oats grow 10 to 15 inches tall with oval leaves and bell-like flowers. Perennial in growth, the flowers are cream or yellow and on short stems. It will bloom from April to May. Wild oats prefer any type of lighting and moist acidic soils. Propagate by seed or root division. Mulch Uvularia sessilifolia with leaves for compost in the winter season.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Good Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers for a Garden or Landscape

Looking to get started in native gardening but don’t know good plants to start with? These four plants are all nice selections with interesting foliage or blooms. Some are very tolerant to the extremes, and others are just pretty to look at. Also remember to think about landscaping while planning your garden, from the patio to the stepping stones to the pond. If you are looking for a condensate pump, home depot may not be your best choice. Think outside the box. I like to use battery operated floor sweepers to clean the patio or the stepping stones. Don't be afraid to mix it up and put contemporary ceramic table lamps on a patio deck to have some night time ambiance.

These native plants are all native to the United States and are great ones to incorporate into the landscape.

Chelone lyonii Pursh (Pink Turtlehead)

Pink turtlehead grows two to four feet high with one inch flowers in deep pink or rose-purple hues. It has a bearded lower lip that will present yellow hairs on the blooms. Flowers appear from summer to fall. Leaves are round at the base and pointed at the tip with an egg shape. It prefers to grow in sun or partial shade with rich moist soil. There won’t be serious pest or disease problems with this native plant.

Dyschoriste oblongifolia (Michx.) Kuntze (Twinflower, Oblongleaf Snakeherb)

An interesting flower that will get six to 18 inches tall, it needs a spacing of three to nine inches. It prefers full sun to partial shade and has average water needs. Its violet or purple flowers bloom all year and it will self-sow on its own. Twinflower is a favorite of butterflies. Its common name comes from the trait of having back to back flowers

blooming at the same time. It is not salt tolerant, so be careful around coastal gardens.

Eryngium yuccifolium Michx. (Button Eryngo, Rattlesnake Master, Button Snakeroot)

This plant grows up to four feet and has an 18 inch spread. It prefers full sun and moist soil to grow efficiently. It has pale green to light blue blooms coming mid-summer. It is ornamental and easy to grow. Button eryngo is part of the carrot family. You can divide the root ball to propagate.

Eupatorium purpureum L. (Sweetscented Joepyeweed, Eupatorium purpureum var. purpureum, Eupatoriadelphus purpureus)

This plant will get three to four feet high and have an equal spread. It prefers sun and partial shade and is very carefree. It will have pink, purple, or near white blooms from summer to fall. You can bag the seed heads to capture the seed if you are planning to propagate. You need to sow the seed as soon as possible as it is not a good candidate for storage. You can cut to the ground in the winter or leave unattended.

Native Fern Choices that Do Not Grow Too High

Many times landscapers and gardeners will want short ferns to go under trees or near a fence or other shaded location. While there are many ferns that will take the shade without a problem, some of these are too tall to go under some trees.These five native ferns all grow under two feet tall and are native to the United States.

Cheilanthes lanosa(Michx) D.C. Eaton (Hairy Lip-fern)

The hairy lip-fern grows seven to eight inches tall and six to eight inches wide with dark green evergreen fronds that curl up in dry weather and unfurl in the rain. Sterile fronds stay evergreen while fertile fronds will break off in the cold season. This type of fern is found in the granite region of the Piedmont Georgia area.

Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Michx.) T. Moore (Eastern Hayscented Fern)

This fine fern gets up to 12 to 18 inches tall and requires 12 to 24 inch spread spacing. It prefers partial to full shade and slightly acidic soil. It’s an aromatic fern, evergreen, and no discernable blooms. Its foliage has lacy leaflets and green fronds. To propagate you can divide the rhizomes.

Athyrium filix-femina(L.) Roth var. asplenoides (Michx.) Hulten (Asplenium Ladyfern, Athyrium asplenioides, Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides)

This beautiful fern grows up to three feet tall and needs spacing of up to 18 inches apart. It prefers partial to full shade for optimum growth. This fern is easy to grow, and has average water needs. There are non-noticeable flowers and is grown for its silver-gray foliage. It is a dense clump-forming fern, and you divide these clumps to propagate. A great choice for window boxes.

Botrychium virginianum(L.) Sw. (Rattlesnake Fern)

Rattlesnake fern only grows up to 12 inches high. It is a difficult slow growing fern, but is very lovely to look at if you want to put the effort into it. It prefers light shade and rich woodland soil. It will reproduce by spores and is difficult to propagate.The center clusters look like a rattlesnake rattle, hence its name.

Asplenium resiliensKunze (Black-stemmed Spleenwort)

The black-stemmed spleenwort fern has dark green leather-like fronds. Frond pinnae are blunt-tipped and oblong, with a black shiny rachis. It grows six to 12 inches tall and six inches wide. Plant it in a shaded area with moist soil. It closely resembles Asplenium trichomanes. This is a great plant for flower boxes.

Asplenium trichomanesL. (Maidenhair Spleenwort)

Growing two to 10 inches tall and three to six inches wide, the maidenhair spleenwort has narrow evergreen fronds. There is a dark red rachis and medium green pinnae. It prefers a moist shaded area. Maidenhair spleenwort grows wild in rocky crevices and is hard to cultivate. Propagate with root stock division. Another nice window box choice.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Native Plants That Bloom in February

Having a nice blooming garden in the middle of winter is a nice benefit to gardening. These are good to have in front of windows or next to patios, so that their blooms can be seen even when there is snow out. I like having a few winter blooming natives in the landscape so that the yard doesn't look as barren. Adding a few into any landscape can have its advantages. These natives are all able to bloom in February, according to the Native Plant Information Network.

Small-leaf Arrowwood (Viburnum obovatum)

Also known as Walter's viburnum, this native plant is a member of the honeysuckle family. It grows up to 18 feet high with wedge-shaped leaves and white flowers. Flowers appear after leaf development. Fruits are red in the beginning but age to black. It prefers partial shade and a moist soil. Propagate by seed. Seed should be sown fresh or, if planting in the spring, will need stratification.

Fuchsia Flowering Currant (Ribes speciosum)

Also known as the fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, this native is from the currant family of plants. It grows four feet high with dark green leaves and red flowers. Leaves are small and glossy. Branches are long and spiny. Fruits are prickly berries. It is semi-evergreen. Fuchsia flowering currant prefers partial shade and a well-drained soil. Propagate by seed.

Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)

Also known as blood sage or tropical sage, this is a member of the mint family of plant. It grows one to three feet high with a loose growth. They have a square stem like all mint plants and flowers are whorls of red blooms. It grows well in any lighting or soil type. Propagate by seed. It has good deer resistance.

Four-nerve Daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa var. scaposa)

Also known as bitterweed, hymenoxys, or stemmy four-nerve daisy, this native is a member of the aster family of plants. It grows in an upright form, up to one foot high. There is a woody base, solitary flowers, and long silver-green leaves. Flowers are on leafless stalks, with yellow rays. Leaves are narrow and crowded. There is a bad odor when the flowers are picked. Four-nerve daisy prefers to grow in full sun with a dry soil. Propagate by seed. It has moderate deer resistance.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Planting and Growing the American Basswood

Also known as the bee tree or American linden, the American basswood is from the linden family of plants. It is native to the United States. Botanically, it is called Tilia americana.

American Basswood Description

Growing 60 to 80 feet high, the American basswood has a wide spread; going from conical in its youth to round with age. Leaves are oval, green, and turn to yellow or brown in the fall. There are fragrant and non-showy cream-yellow flowers. It may have more than a single trunk.

Growing Guide

This tree doesn't mind what type of lighting it is in, from full sun to full shade. It does prefer well-drained soils that are nearly neutral in pH. Propagate by seed. Seed will need acidic or mechanical scarification and then a moist chill for 90 days.


This native is found in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. It is seen in deciduous woods and in ravines.

Herbal Remedy

Basswood flowers have been used for baths and the tea has been said to enhance sleep and remedy common colds. It can be found in some beauty products.


Native Americans and Early Settlers used the inner bark to make fibers. These fibers made ropes, shoes, thread, and nets. Some Native American tribes carved masks into the trees and then split the mask out of the tree to dry. The mask was thought to have supernatural powers if the tree survived.


The American basswood is prone to leaf-eating insects. It also has a susceptibility to other insect and disease issues.

Source: NPIN

Friday, January 27, 2012

Planting and Growing the Sweet After Death

(Image courtesy of Walter Seigmund at Wikipedia)

Also known as vanilla leaf, the sweet after death plant is a member of the barberry family of plants. It is native to the United States and is botanically known as Achlys triphylla.

Sweet After Death Description

Growing under eight inches tall, this is a perennial spreading ground cover. There are large leaves and tiny whitish flowers clustered on spikes. There are patches of stalks. Leaflets are fan-shaped. Flowers are bisexual. There is a slight vanilla fragrance to the dried plants. Bloom season is between April and July.

Growing Guide

Sweet after death prefers to grow in partial shade or full shade in moist rich soils. It should be propagated by seed or by division of the roots.


This native is found in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. It is seen in stream banks and moist forests.

Herbal Remedy

Native Americans have used sweet after death as an emetic, a hair wash, and a treatment for tuberculosis. The leaves were used in preparations for these remedies. The roots were dried and shredded, made into an infusion, and this used for a cataract treatment.


Other uses have been to dry the plant and hang for a mosquito and fly repellent. Decoctions of the plant can be used as a floor wash and furniture was for bedbugs and lice. The hair wash was made from an infusion of the leaves.


Kingdom - Plantae– Plants

Subkingdom - Tracheobionta– Vascular plants

Superdivision - Spermatophyta– Seed plants

Division - Magnoliophyta– Flowering plants

Class - Magnoliopsida– Dicotyledons

Subclass - Magnoliidae

Order - Ranunculales

Family - Berberidaceae– Barberry family

Genus - Achlys DC.– achlys

Species - Achlys triphylla (Sm.) DC.– sweet after death

Source: NPIN, PlantsDatabase, Plants for a Future

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Planting and Growing the Groundsel Tree

(image of Groundsel Tree courtesy of Wikipedia)

The groundseltree is also known as Eastern baccharis, salt marsh-elder, salt bush, sea-myrtle, and consumptionweed. Botanically, it is known as Baccharis halimifolia, and is a member of the Aster family of plants.

Groundseltree Description

This semi-evergreen perennial shrub grows six to 12 feet high with many branches. Leaves are gray-green and in a lobed oval shape. They are deciduous in the far north, semi-evergreen in warmer climates. They have white or green flowers in clusters. They are small and dense, blooming from August to October. In the fall, the shrub has silvery plume-like achenes. These achenes make the entire plant look like it is covered in silver-tipped paint brushes.

Growing Guide

The groundseltree prefers to grow in partial shade with a wet soil that is nearly neutral in pH. It is fast growing and salt tolerant. It typically does not have many insect or disease issues. Propagate by seed or by cuttings. Seed should be started under mist or in sandy seed beds for best germination. Cuttings should be taken in the summer for best growth. There is no pretreatment of the seeds needed.

Distribution for Groundseltree

This native is seen in shores and salt marshes in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, or Virginia.


It is a good erosion control plant and makes for a showy display as such. It is used as a food source for butterflies, bees, moths, and other insects for the nectar as well as seed for birds. It is also a good small wildlife cover.

Groundseltree makes for a nice display of interesting effects. It will work well in landscapes that have a moist area. Native plants help keep indigenous fauna with food and cover. Planting a native over an introduced plant helps keep invasive plants from choking out the flora of the area.


NPIN: Groundseltree

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Planting and Growing the Eastern Bluestar

Also known as the woodland bluestar, the blue dogbane, or the willow amsonia, this native is a member of the dogbane family of plants. It is botanically known as Amsonia tabernaemontana.

Easter Bluestar Description

It grows one to three feet high on an erect smooth stem. There are narrow green leaves that turn gold-yellow in the fall with an oval shape. Flowers are blue, tubular, with a star-shaped rim. They are in clusters at the end of the stems, blooming from March to May. Flower anthers are yellow-orange. The leaves on the uppermost part of the plant may shield eastern bluestar's blooms. It is a perennial.

Eastern Bluestar Growing Guide

This native prefers to grow in partial shade with a moist or wet soil. Propagate by seed. Sow seed 1/2 inch deep either directly after collection or after being dried and stored. Collect seed about four to five months after flowering. Eastern bluestar seed is in tan long follicles and is cinnamon-brown in color. Store seed in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four years. After storing seed will need to have a two to three day water soak to aid in germination.

Distribution of Eastern Bluestar

This native is seen in the plains or wooded areas of the states of Alabama, Delaware, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Eastern bluestar is a cute little native flower that works well in wildflower gardens or prairie gardens, wherever there is a moist spot in the landscape that you'd like some delicate-looking blooms to grow. As a perennial, it is a flower that you can plant once and enjoy years of growth.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Planting and Growing the Lobed Tickseed

Also known as early coreopsis, dwarf tickseed, or eared coreopsis, this native is a member of the Aster family of plants. It is botanically known as Coreopsis auriculata.

Lobed Tickseed Description

This native grows four to 24 inches tall in a low dense growth. It has hairy leaves and stems and bright yellow flowers. Blooms are daisy-like and small. Leaves can persist throughout the winter season, blooms last from April to May with some persisting to frost. It is a perennial that blooms the best in full sun conditions, at least three to four hours per day. Less sunlight will result in fewer flowers.

Growing Guide

This native prefers to grow in either full sun or partial shade conditions. Soils should be rich, moist, and either acidic or neutral in pH. It is heat tolerant. Propagate by seed or by root division. Seeds will not need pretreatment prior to sowing and can be sown either in late fall or the next spring. Collect seed about a month after flowers fade. It can be stored in a sealed refrigerator container for up to three years.

Distribution for Lobed Tickseed

It is found in wood edges, thickets and savannahs in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.


Lobed tickseed attracts birds and butterflies, especially songbirds for its seed. The flowers are a favorite in the Southeast United States and they attract the butterflies. It is a nectar source for them.


The lobed tickseed really loves having a good leaf mulch around it. Just mulch it well, let the leaves breakdown into the soil, and add more as the seasons progress for the best growth.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Planting and Growing the Mountain Witchalder

(Image: Michael Maggs, from Wikipedia)

Also known as large fothergilla and Fothergilla major, the Mountain witchalder is native to the United States. It is a member of the witch-hazel family, or Hamamelidaceae, family of plants.

Mountain Witchalder Description

Growing 6 to 12 feet high, this perennial is a deciduous shrub. There are multiple crooked stems on the plant, with dark blue-green leaves. Foliage is leathery and dense, turning nice colors come fall. Flowers are a mass of stamens, white, and fragrant. They are in terminal spikes that are thimble-like. Blooms will happen after the leaves make an appearance. Bloom season is between April and May.

Growing Guide

Grow the Mountain witchalder in partial shade with an acidic soil. Propagate by seed, suckers, or by semi-hardwood cuttings. Cuttings take with or without rooting hormone. Seed planting requires six months of warm moist stratification and then three months of cold moist stratification.


This native is found in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It is seen in stream banks, ravines, and rich mountain wood areas.


This perennial is disease and insect resistant.


This native has a good look in shrub borders, naturalistic areas, and in groupings. It has nice blooms, good summer and fall foliage, and looks its best when there is an evergreen dark background.


One of the best known Mountain witchalder cultivars is the 'Mt Airy' cultivar. There are bigger blooms and a yellow to red strong fall color palette. It is widely available at nurseries, and it has superior attributes. If going for a Mountain witchalder in your landscape, it is definitely the cultivar to select.

Source: NPIN, UCONN Plant Database

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cold Tolerant Native Perennials for the Garden

(American Beautyberry image by GNU license, Wikipedia)

Some plants are tender and wither away at the first sign of chilly weather. Then there are the hardy plants, those that can take the cold weather. Cold tolerant plants are great for those looking to plant a garden or landscape ornamentals in places where it gets cold. These plant selections are all considered cold tolerant by the Native Plant Information Network. Plant them around tender plants to make sure your entire garden doesn't die out in the cold season.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

Also known as Anisacanthus wrightii, hummingbird bush, Wright acanthus, or Mexican flame, this native perennial shrub is from the acanthus family. It grows three to five feet high with red-orange flowers, light-green leaves, and peeling bark. Flowers are tubular in shape, blooming summer to fall. Foliage is lanceolate. Flame acanthus prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade with a well-drained soil. It is drought, heat, and cold tolerant. Propagate by seed and by softwood cuttings. It has a high deer resistance.

Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)

This native perennial is a member of the grass family of plants. It grows two to three feet high with erect stems. It is a bunch grass with spikelets that look like oats.  It has a tan color come fall season, with basal leaves turning purple or red. It is a warm season grass that is both cold and heat tolerant. Sideoats grams prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade with a well-drained soil. Propagate by seed or by root division. Seed can be fresh sown in the fall or after stratification in the spring. It has a high deer resistance.

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Also known as the French mulberry, this native shrub is a member of the verbena family of plants. It grows three to five feet high and three to five feet wide, typically. Some may get as high as 9 feet. There is smooth bark with raised areas called lenticels. Flowers are small and clustered, blooming pink. Fruits are rose-pink or lavender-pink and look like berries. They too are clustered. Branches are long and arching. Some cultivars have white fruits. American beautyberry prefers to grow in partial shade with a moist soil. It is cold and heat tolerant. Propagate by seeds, softwood tip cuttings, division, or by root cuttings. It has no deer resistance.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Native Plants That Bloom In January

Native plants are great inclusions into an existing garden or as a stand-alone wildflower garden. They help keep native fauna in existence by providing a food source and a cover location. Introduced plants can choke out native plants and animals, becoming invasive. These native plants are all listed in the Native Plant Information Network as those that bloom in January.

Autumn Onion (Allium stellatum)

Also known as the prairie onion, this native is a member of the lily family of plants. It grows one to two feet high with slender leaves and balls of flowers. Foliage is green and dies as the flowering stalk starts to appear. Flowers are rose-pink or lavender. Early explorers ate the bulbs, but it is listed as a poisonous plant. Autumn onion should be planted in partial shade with a moist soil. Propagate by seed or by bulb division.

Mexican Olive (Cordia boissieri)

Also known as Anacahuite or Texas wild olive, this native is a member of the borage family of plants. It grows up to 30 feet high and is a perennial shrub or tree. Leaves are dark and soft while flowers are trumpet-like and large. Flowers are white with a yellow throat. Flowers bring butterflies to the landscape while deer and birds enjoy the fruits. Plant a Mexican olive in full sun or partial shade with an alkaline or nearly neutral soil pH. Propagate by softwood cuttings, seed, or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Heartleaf Rosemallow (Hibiscus martianus)

Also known as Tulipan del Monte or heartleaf hibiscus, this native is a member of the mallow family of plants. It grows one to three feet high. Leaves are heart-shaped and have a silvery hue. Flowers are red and solitary, appearing at the tips of the branches. Heartleaf rosemallow prefers full sun or partial shade with a dry well-drained soil. Propagate by seed.

Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis)

Also known as the cucumberleaf sunflower, this native is a member of the aster family of plants. It grows up to six feet tall with hairy stems and green leaves. Flowers are yellow with a reddish center disk. Beach sunflower prefers to grow in full sun lighting and can be propagated by seed. It is an annual.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Native Shrubs that Deer Aren't Very Attracted To

File:Starr 031108-0155 Morella cerifera.jpg

 (Image of Wax Myrtle, Kim and Forest Starr off Wikipedia)

Are you looking to add more native plants to your yard but are concerned about the deer getting a hold on them? There are many that deer especially love to eat off, but these native shrub favorites are some that they often avoid. According to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences planting these shrubs give you the beauty without the chewed branches and flowers. Any of these selections should help your landscape look better if you have a yard where deer often roam.

Drooping Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana)
Also known as the highland doghobble, Leucothoe axillaris var. editorum, and Leucothoe editorum, this is a member of the heath family of plants. It grows 3 to 6 fee high in a fountain-like arch. There are white waxy flowers in drooping spikes and dark green foliage that is red-green and purple come wintertime. It should be planted in partial shade with a moist acidic soil. Propagate by seed, hardwood cuttings, and by semi-hardwood cuttings.

Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera)
Also known as southern bayberry, candleberry, Myrica pusilla, and Myrica cerifera, this is a member of the bayberry family of plants. It grows 6 to 12 feet high typically, with a high of 20 feet. Olive-green leaves have a nice spicy scent and there are pale blue berries on the shrubs that are female. Plant in partial shade to full sun conditions with a moist or wet acidic to neutral soil. Propagate by softwood cuttings, seeds, or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
This is a member of the witch-hazel family of plants, growing from 10 to 15 feet high typically, but on occasion can reach 35 feet high. There are lettuce green leaves that turn gold in the fall with yellow fragrant flowers. The leaves, bark and twigs have astringent properties. Plant a witch hazel in partial to full shade conditions with an acidic well-drained soil. Propagate by seed or by layering. Seed will need double stratification prior to sowing.

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
NPIN: Drooping Leucothoe NPIN: Wax Myrtle
NPIN: Witch Hazel

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Short-Lived Native Wildflowers and Trees

Often the lifespan of a plant isn’t considered except if it is an annual or perennial. But when you garden, do you research to see how long that perennial will live? There are many wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses that are short-lived. It is good to know this in advance of planting, should you prefer something that will last longer than the short-lived plant.

Zizia aurea (L.) W. D. J. Koch (Golden Alexanders, Golden Zizia)

Golden Alexanders grow one to three feet high with yellow blooms from April through August. Stems are branching and red-tinted. Leaves are divided. Flowers are small, 5-petaled, and yellow. This perennial is short-lived. Golden Alexanders prefer sun or partial shade and moist sandy soils. It is a larval host for the Black swallowtail butterfly. Propagate by division or by seed.

Aesculus pavia L. (Red Buckeye, Scarlet Buckeye, Firecracker Plant)

This deciduous tree can also be a bushy shrub in some locations. It is a fast growing to its mature height of 15 to 25 feet. It will flower in dark red tubular flowers form April to May, and is a prime pick for those who want a splash of color. Hummingbird friendly, this tree will also attract bees. It prefers shady locations and will bloom early for first color in your garden. Keep in mind; this is a short-lived tree.

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern redbud, Redbud)

This short lived tree does well in full shade or partial shade and moist well-drained soil. Also known as the “Judas tree” it is rumored to be the tree in which Judas Iscariot hung himself from. Redbud grows only 10 to 20 years and will reach a height of around 15 feet tall. It will flower pink or purple (rarely white) flowers from March to May. Bark from Eastern redbud has been used as an astringent and its flowers can be used in salads. A very versatile and pretty tree, albeit having short-lived beauty. Propagate by seed or cuttings.

Prunus umbellata Ell. (Flatwoods Plum, Hog Plum, Sloe)

A rather short lived tree, the Hog Plum reaches a height of 20 feet and a spread of 15 feet. It prefers partial shade. It will flower with spectacular half-inch white blooms, in clusters, from April to May. It has an irregular crown, a moderate growth pattern, and its leaves are used to make green dye. Expect this tree to live from 30 to 40 years.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Native Pine Trees of Georgia

There are many native trees in Georgia. Pine trees are prevalent, several of which are native to the state. If you are considering a pine tree for your landscape and would like to ensure planting those native to the state, these are a few good varieties.

Pinus echinata P. Mill. (Shortleaf Pine)

This pine tree will grow 50 to 100 feet tall with a broad crown. Needles are bright green and in tufts.  Yellow blooms will come February and March.  Shortleaf pine prefers partial shade and dry sandy soils with an acidic base. It is a larval host plant to the Elfin butterfly. Propagate by seed.

Pinus elliottii P. Mill. (Slash pine)

Slash pines can reach a height of up to 100 feet tall with a three foot spread. It has dark green needle foliage. It loves full sun to partial shade and moist soil. This is a good candidate to plant surrounded by azaleas.

Pinus glabra Walt. (Spruce pine)

This is a medium size evergreen pine that will get up to 40 to 60 feet tall and has a spread of 30 feet. It prefers sunny locations and wet ground. Spruce pines have dark green needles and an irregular crown. It is the poorest choice for pine wood. It has brown cone fruits and seeds that are loved by birds. This variety is more shade tolerant than most pines.

Pinus pungens Lambert (Table Mountain Pine, Prickly Pine)

The Table Mountain pine grows up to 65 feet high with profuse cones. Leaves are evergreen needles and are yellow-green in color. Needles are one-and-a-half to three-and-a-half inches long. Flowers are purple or yellow clusters if male and if female will be light purple or green clusters. Fruits are dark red-brown cones in whorls.

Pinus rigida Mill. (Pitch Pine)

This pine reaches 80 feet high with evergreen needs that are green or yellow-green. Needles are two-and-a-half to five inches long with two to four inch long cones. Male flowers are red or yellow and in clusters at the tips of twigs. Female flowers are yellow or red and have curved scales.  Cones are light brown and will mature in the fall season.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Free Native Plant Book This Week for Kindle

A collection of native garden plant profiles that tell you what the plant looks like, how to plant it, its categorization, interesting facts and warnings, and propagation methods. There are 172 plant profiles in Edition One.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Arizona Native Trees and Shrubs That Grow 10 Feet High or Less

When you are looking for low-growing trees and shrubs, those growing under ten feet in height, there are many to choose from. If you are looking to be better to the environment by finding native trees and shrubs that fall into that category, that’s even better. For those in Arizona, these are the native trees and shrubs that will grow under 10 feet tall for your hardiness zones.

Aloysia gratissima

Common Name: Whitebrush, Bee-brush, Privet Lippia, Beebrush

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: Growing up to 10 feet high, this vanilla-scented plant has small white flowers on spikes and green clustered leaves. Bloom season from March to November. Bark is light gray and there may be sharp-tipped branches. Fruits are drupes, small, and have two nutlets.

Planting Guide: Aloysia gratissima prefers sun or partial shade and moist rocky soils. It does fine in limestone soils as well as sandy or clay soils. It is drought tolerant.

Propagation: Whitebrush is propagated by seed and softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings from tips taken in spring or first part of summer are best, cut just before a node. Seed can be collected in summer and stored without treatment until spring.

History: This tree can be pruned and made into a small tree or hedge. It is a plant that both wildlife browse and honey is made from. It does well as a cover plant and a nesting plant for birds and small animals.

Warnings: It can form a base of stems that become a thicket.

Distribution: Aloysia gratissima is found in AZ, NM and TX.

Forestiera pubescens

Common Name: Stretchberry, Spring Herald, Elbow Bush

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: This shrub grows 5 to 10 feet high with arched branches and opposite leaves. Flowers are yellow and in small clusters, blooming between January and March. Dark blue fruits are fleshy. Branches help name this as an elbow bush due to their right angles.

Planting Guide: Forestiera pubescens prefers any type of lighting and any type of soil. It is very adaptable and drought tolerant.

Propagation: Stretchberry is propagated by cuttings.

History: It attracts birds and butterflies, especially hairstreak butterflies.

Warnings: To make into a dense shrub, much pruning will need to be done.

Distribution: Forestiera pubescens is found in AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, OK, TX and UT.

Justicia californica

Common Name: Hummingbird Bush, Chuparosa, Beloperone

Synonyms: Beloperone californica

Lifespan: Perennial

Description: This twiggy shrub grows up to 6 feet high and 12 feet wide. Oval leaves are gray-green with succulent green stems. Flowers are tubular and showy, in colors of red, yellow or orange. Bloom season is between March and June.

Planting Guide: Justicia californica prefers dry rocky soils and full sun conditions. It can also grow in spots with some standing water.

Propagation: Hummingbird bush is propagated by seed. Seed can be sown without any treatment prior to planting.

History: This is a larval host plant for the Texan crescentspot (Anthanassa texana) butterfly.

            One of the common names, Chuparosa, is “hummingbird” in Spanish, due to the attraction hummingbirds have for the plant.

Warnings: While native to desert washes, it does not tolerate a desert drought.

Distribution: Justicia californica is found in AZ and CA.