Georgia's gardeners have no excuses when it comes to finding plants for their landscapes. The Peach State, says the Gwinnett Daily Post's Tim Daly, has more than 3,000 native srubs, trees, blooming plants and ground covers adapted to varying conditions across the state. From the central Piedmont regions to the warm Atlantic coast and the northern Blue Ridge, native plants can fill Georgia's landscapes with disease-and-pest resistant, wildlife friendly beauty.
Silverbell tree (Halesia tetraptera), native to Georgia's hardwood forests and stream banks, grows up to up to 30 feet high and 25 feet wide. It can also serve as a spreading shrub in home landscapes. Its bark, striped gray on young trees, matures into grayish-brown plates furrowed with white. Silverbell's greenish-yellow summer leaves provide yellow autumn color. In May, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (LBJWC), short stems bearing delicate white or pink bell-like flowers hang from its branches. Plant silverbell in a partially shady spot and moist, well-drained loam high in organic content. It prefers acidic soil (pH below 7.0).
Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens) grows wild in central Georgia's acidic bogs. Hardy to winter temperatures of 0 degrees F. and higher, it stands up to 8 feet high with clusters of heavy, deep green leaves. Between March and May, says the LBJWC, Piedmont azalea also has clusters of fragrant, 1-inch trumpet shaped blooms. Flowers are usually pink but occasionally white.They often appear in advance of the foliage. Common throughout the southeast, Piedmont azalea spreads easily. It's effective in water gardens and as pond landscaping, says the LBJWC. Plant it in part shade and moist, well-drained acidic sandy or loamy soil. Note that ingesting any part of this plant is toxic.
Evergreen wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), a 6- to 12-foot shrub--rarely reaching 20 feet--makes an excellent hedge, landscape or wetland garden shrub, says the LBJWC. Its multiple trunks have whitish-gray bark. The olive green leaves of its dense branches are spicily aromatic. Female wax myrtle plants provide winter garden interest with their pale blue berries, but only if male plants are nearby to pollinate them. The berries' waxy covering traditionally provides scent bayberry candles. Many birds feed on the berries, while the plant's foliage attracts butterflies. Wax myrtle, hardy to 0 degrees, grows wild along stream banks and in marshes and moist woods. Heat-and-drought-resistant, it tolerates full sun to part shade. Plant it in deep, moist acidic-to-neutral soil. It will grow in sand, loam and clay.