Landscape Plants of the South

Watching movies set in the South, such as "Steel Magnolias," is a good way to admire some typical landscape plants commonly seen in Southern landscapes. Besides magnolias, the South is known for landscape plants such as crapemyrtles, hydrangeas and others. Southern plants can be tricky to grow. Although some plants love morning sun, they can wilt and die when receiving excessive sunlight, so it's important to select the right plants for the best locations.


Crapemyrtles are popular Southern landscape plants used as either shrubs or trees. These plants vary in size, ranging from 18 inches to over 25 feet, according to Alabama Cooperative Extension. The plant is named for its crinkled-looking petals that resemble crepe paper. The crapemyrtle's most outstanding feature is its flowers that form in panicles. Flowers are 6 to 8 inches long and 3 to 5 inches wide, coming in colors of purple, pink and red. These plants bloom from mid-June through September. Crapemyrtles need full sun for flowering, but can tolerate wide variations in soil. They don't do well in wet locations.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas and rhododendrons are two of the more popular shrubs of the South, according to Southern Living. Although they're often considered different plants, they belong to the same genus, Rhododendron, which has more than 800 species. A noticeable difference is that rhododendrons usually have considerably larger leaves and their flowers are bell-shaped with 10 or more stamens, while azalea flowers are generally funnel-shaped with five stamens.


Magnolias, which are the state flowers of Mississippi and Louisiana, are flowering plants with white, red, pink or yellow blossoms. Southern magnolias have glossy large foliage and enormous, white, fragrant blossoms. Although this Southern plant offers beauty throughout the years, it does have challenges. Southern Living cautions that the magnolia's dense shading makes it impossible to grow grass beneath the tree's canopy. Magnolias have shallow roots that usually damage pavement when they're planted between curbs and sidewalks. Their leaves drop every day of the year, creating work for gardeners. They also take up significant space in a garden because of their large width.


Hydrangeas are mostly known for the bigleaf variety, with its blue or pink puffball blooms. There are several other hydrangea varieties, including smooth hydrangea, climbing hydrangea, oakleaf and peegee hydrangea, according to the University of Georgia. Because they have large leaves, water can be lost in summer heat, so they need relief from the sun. On the other hand, deep shade can hurt them, too, except for the oakleaf hydrangea. This hydrangea species, which is a native Georgia plant, is shade-tolerant and does well as an attractive understory shrub.

Keywords: Southern landscape plants, Southern plants, popular Southern plants

About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.