Plants That Grow Great in South Carolina

The climate and conditions of South Carolina support a variety of plants, including herbaceous perennials, evergreen shrubs and flowering trees. Native plants grow well in South Carolina gardens because they have adapted to the local environment. These plants rarely require fertilization or pest and disease control, making them relatively maintenance-free. The blooms, seeds and foliage seeds of these plants often attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife looking for food and shelter.

Wild Lupine

Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) grows wild on sandy hills and in open woods in South Carolina. Spikes of pea-shaped purple flowers bloom in late spring or early summer, atop the 2-foot-tall stems. Leaves divided into seven to 11 leaflets grow along the stems, beneath the flower spikes. Birds and small mammals may eat the seeds, but the seeds are poisonous to people and should not be consumed. Wild lupine grows well in poor, dry soil as long as it receives good drainage. Plant in full sun and provide water during periods of drought.


The perennial known as Oenothera fruticosa, or sundrops, grows up to 2 feet tall. Four-petaled, yellow flowers with a 2-inch diameter bloom in late spring throughout summer and attract hummingbirds. The medium green leaves grow between 2 and 3 inches in length from the reddish, branching stems. Plant sundrops in full sun and well-drained, acidic, moist soil. Water during especially dry conditions.

Swamp Milkweed

The stems of swamp milkweed, or Asclepias incarnata, grow between 2 and 4 feet tall. In summer, round clusters of pinkish purple flowers bloom and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. This herbaceous perennial features thin, pointed, 6-inch long leaves. Provide swamp milkweed with full sun or partial shade. It performs well in wet, muddy soil and tolerates heavy clay. It works well in a wetland garden or pond and requires water on a regular basis if planted in a dry location. Aphids may appear, but rarely cause any damage. If necessary, spray these pests with soapy water. All parts of swamp milkweed are poisonous in large quantities.

Mountain Laurel

The evergreen shrub known as mountain laurel, or Kalmia latifolia, typically grows between 8 and 10 feet tall. The leathery, glossy leaves are dark green on top and yellowish green on the underside. Clusters of small light pink or white flowers with contrasting stamens bloom from dark pink buds in the summer. Plant mountain laurel in rich, acidic, well-drained soil. Provide water when the soil appears dry. This shrub tolerates full shade but flowers best in partial shade.


The deciduous tree Amelanchier arborea, commonly known as juneberry, grows up to 30 feet tall and forms a rounded crown. In early spring, new foliage emerges and drooping clusters of white flowers bloom. The small, reddish purple berries are often used in pies and jams. Juneberry grows wild along woodland edges and prefers moist, acidic, well-drained soil. Provide regular water, especially during dry periods. This tree tolerates some sun and performs best with afternoon shade.

Keywords: native plants, South Carolina gardens, wild lupine, swamp milkweed, mountain laurel, juneberry

About this Author

Prior to pursuing writing full-time, Melissa Martin researched and edited books on teamwork and negotiation. She has worked as a ghostwriter for a number of websites and her current work appears on, covering topics such as gardening, animals and the environment. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa.