9 Native Lowcountry Plants Great for Landscaping
There are so many benefits to using native plants in your landscaping design. Not only do they promote biodiversity and reduce the maintenance required, but they encourage an appreciation of the natural heritage and beauty of our native landscape. Using native plants also supports the local wildlife and creates a harmonious relationship as nature intended.
There are numerous options for native plants and consulting with a reputable landscape designer or locally-owned nursery can help you make the right decisions for which plants to include in your yard. While there is a long list of native trees that many of you may already be familiar with (Palmettos and Southern Magnolias come to mind!) we’ve curated a list of some of the more popular smaller native plant species, such as shrubs, flowers, and grasses, that you can easily integrate into your current landscaping plan.
1. Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)
Maidenhair Ferns are great for areas that get a lot of rain. They are a thirsty species that rewards you with springy, evergreen coverage when consistently watered. They look great hanging on those wide Southern porches or planted under trees as ground cover. These ferns are also very pest resistant and virtually disease free.
2. Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
South Carolina’s state flower is a fast growing evergreen vine that can be grown up fences and along trellises. The beautiful yellow flowers bloom in very late winter or early spring, providing a cheery boost to a typically dreary season. This plant loves full sunshine and well-draining soil.
3. Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
Also known as trumpet honeysuckle or woodbine, this high climbing vine can be seen all over the south, crawling up trees and fences. Hummingbirds love these red flowers that bloom in the spring months. Despite its good climbing qualities, it is not an overly aggressive grower and can be easily tamed for home gardens. This plant also boasts some herbal remedy qualities – the leaves can make a decoction for sore throats and coughs among other things.
4. Purple Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
This vine produces large, showy purple flowers from spring through early autumn which attract butterflies. Its tolerance for variations in soil moisture and sunshine make it easy to care for. This plant is non-toxic so it is a pet-safe choice. In fact, the green fruit of the passionflower is a favorite treat for rabbits and you can eat it too. It has a flavor similar to apricot.
5. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
With lovely yellow blooms from June through October, the Black-eyed Susan is one of the most popular wildflowers out there. They are a hearty species that will come back year after year and make great cut flowers, so you can enjoy them in your garden or decorating your dining room table.
6. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
The buttonbush is a shrub that can grow up to 12 feet tall. It is a great option for those who live along the water, as ducks and shore birds enjoy the the seeds. The ball-like blooms are long lasting and white or pink in color. They bloom through autumn, which can add a nice pop of color to your fall landscape.
7. Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata)
Sea Oats are a quintessential image of coastal living. This plant is technically a grass and grows quite tall. It plays an important part in reducing the erosion of sand dunes along the beaches. The plant’s extensive root system helps keep sand in place, helping to counteract potential storm damage. You can add this airy grass as an ornamental backdrop to shorter shrubs and flowers in your own yard.
8. Swap Lily (Crinum americanum)
The Swamp Lily is a perennial bulb that prefers to keep its feet wet, making it perfectly adapted to the wetlands of the lowcountry. The white flowers will bloom June through November in small clumps, even in full shade.
9. Coastal Azalea (rhododendron atlanticum)
Perhaps the most iconic floral image representing spring in the lowcountry, azaleas are native plants with a riot of color when they bloom. Colors vary from white to hot pinks to vibrant purples. The flower coverage turns the whole bush into a bright pop of color, which looks great along the edge of a property or road or under pines and live oaks. You can trim back azalea bushes after their blooming period to encourage bushier growth.