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.