North Carolina lies within a humid subtropical climate zone, which generally means hot, muggy summers and short, mild winters. If you live in North Carolina, choose native lawn and garden plants according to intended use, bloom time, mature size and general culture. Various plants naturally occur in North Carolina landscapes.
The striped maple tree (Acer pensylvanicum) belongs to the Aceraceae plant family and naturally occurs across North Carolina. Mature trees range from 20 to 40 feet in height and bear green leaves that turn lemony-yellow in the autumn. Green flowers appear in April and May, succeeded by green fruit. The striped maple also features smooth, green bark with white striping on the branches and trunk. This maple variety likes moist, acidic soils in partially to fully shady locations. Gardeners typically plant striped maple trees in shaded woodland areas.
White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), a daisy family member (Asteraceae), thrives in North Carolina's rich woodland soils. This perennial bears oval, green leaves and erect stems that reach up to 4 feet in height. Flower clusters display from August through October, featuring numerous white blossoms. White snakeroot plants like moist soils in partial to full shade positions. Gardeners often use white snakeroot in shady woodland gardens and moist clearings.
The blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) belongs to the Asteraceae plant family and prefers moist, loamy or sandy soils that receive partial to full sun. Blue mistflowers reach up to 3 feet in height and bear triangular, green leaves. Vibrant blue or purple flower clusters bloom from July through November. This perennial plant sometimes spreads rapidly and becomes a pest. North Carolina gardeners frequently use the blue mistflower for ground covers, borders, wet wildflower meadows and butterfly gardens.
The gordonia (Gordonia lasianthus) belongs in the tea plant family (Theaceae) and naturally grows in North Carolina wetlands. Also known as the loblolly bay, this evergreen shrub or tree ranges from 30 to 50 feet in height. The gordonia bears glossy, deep green leaves and fragrant, white flowers with deep yellow stamens. These flowers appear in late spring and last until the first frost. While this tree prefers fertile woodland soils, North Carolina gardeners can also use gordonias as shrub borders in sunny locations.
The sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), a bayberry family member (Myricaceae), forms clumps ranging from 2 to 4 inches in both height and spread. The sweet fern bears long, drab green leaves that release an aroma when bruised or crushed. Brown catkins appear from May through August. This plant likes dry, acidic soils in partly shady locations. The sweet fern grows well in sandy barrens and open woodlands across North Carolina.
The coralbean (Erythrina herbacea), sometimes called the red cardinal or the Cherokee bean, thrives along North Carolina coastlines. This pea family member (Fabaceae) bears numerous thorns and shiny, green leaves with prickly undersides. Long spikes of deep red, crescent-shaped flowers bloom from March through November, giving way to black peapods containing showy red beans. Mature coralbeans range from 6 to 12 feet in height. This shrub likes well-drained, loamy or sandy soils in partial shade to full sun. North Carolina gardeners often use coralbean shrubs in sandy clearings and open woods.