Although Georgia is generally known for its mild temperatures from fall to spring, the summers in Georgia are often hot and humid. Whether you are starting a new landscaping project or simply want to add some variety to your yard, there are several plants that thrive in Georgia's climate.
The common gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) is an evergreen shrub that grows anywhere from 2 to 6 feet and produces white flowers from May through July. There are several different varieties of the common gardenia, and blooms may grow as singles or doubles; blooms vary in size, with the largest growing up to 4 inches in diameter. Gardenia's prefer acidic soil and grow best in light shade. The common gardenia is considered a high-maintenance shrub and bud drop (when blooms drop before they open) is not uncommon. This can be caused by several factors, from under-watering to over-watering, low humidity or even high temperatures. Its highly fragrant flowers, however, make the extra trouble worth it. Gardenias grow in USDA zones 8 through 11.
The downy phlox (Phlox pilosa L.) is a perennial flower that grows in a mound and typically reaches from 12 to 24 inches in height. It blooms from March through May with five-petaled flowers that appear in clusters and are pale-pink, purplish or even white in color. The downy phlox prefers sun or partial shade and requires sandy soil that is well-drained to help prevent root rot and mildew. Attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, the downy phlox makes a dramatic showing in flower beds or when used as a border. Downy phlox grows in USDA zones 4 through 8.
The spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a large, deciduous shrub that grows from 6 to 12 feet in both height and spread. It blooms in March with small, fragrant, greenish-yellow flowers that appear on branches prior to the appearance of the 5-inch, egg-shaped, light green leaves that remain on the plant through the summer and turn to a stunning yellow in the fall. The spicebush is a dioecious plant (each plant is either male or female); if it is female, the flowers will give way to ½-inch, bright red berries in the fall. Interestingly, this only occurs if the female spicebush has a male spicebush nearby to pollinate with. The spicebush grows well in average, well-drained soil and prefers full sun to partial shade. Spicebush grow in USDA zones 4 through 9.