The southern section of the United States incorporates the USDA Hardiness Zones of 7a to 8b. Southern plants need to be able to thrive in the heat and humidity of the area. Plants for 7a to 8b all can live in this type of environment. The best plants and shrubs for the American South will be hardy and easy to grow while the temperatures are high.
The gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) is from the iris (Iridaceae) family. It is a perennial with nearly 180 species. Sizes and shapes vary by cultivar but flowers are always on spikes. Height range is 3 to 5.5 feet. Plant a gladiolus in full sun or partial shade in fertile well drained soil. Propagate via spring seed or by cormlet separation.
The yellow elder (Tecoma stans) is from the bignonia (Bignoniaceae) family. It is a fragrant perennial that is drought resistant, fast growing, and will attract hummingbirds. Leaves are bright green and pointed with 2- to 3-inch leaflets. Yellow trumpet shaped flowers are 1 to 2 inches. Grow a yellow elder shrub in any well drained soil with full sun. Propagate via spring seeds or summer cuttings.
The David viburnum (Viburnum davidii) is from the honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae) family. It is an evergreen shrub that gets 3 to 5 feet tall. Leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and dark green. White tiny flowers are on branched clusters. Fruits are drupes and metallic blue. Plant a David viburnum in light shade and regular watering. Propagate via autumn seed or semi-ripe tip shoots in summer.
The daffodil (Narcissus spp.) is from the amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae) family. It is a fragrant easy to grow perennial that is drought tolerant and a butterfly attractor. It has strap like leaves 6 to 30 inches long. Flowers get 4 to 24 inches tall, mostly yellow or white, but orange, pink and red can occur. Plant a daffodil in rich neutral well-drained soil with morning sun and partial shade with once a week watering. Propagate via seed (5 to 7 years before bloom) or by bulb division.
The sweet viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum) is from the honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae) family. It is a fragrant fast growing evergreen shrub that attracts birds. It can get 20 feet tall with 6-inch long bright green leaves. Flowers are tiny and white and berries are red drupes. Plant a sweet viburnum in full sun or moderate shade with average to moist soil. Propagate via layering or cuttings.
The crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is from the loosestrife (Lythraceae) family. It is a fast and easy to grow shrub. It will range from 18 inches to 40 feet in height depending on cultivar. Smooth leaves and summer flowers will vary also. Colors are white, pink, red, lavender, and purple. Plant a crape myrtle in moist well-drained soil in good sun. Propagate via seed, hardwood cuttings in winter, or mediumwood cuttings in fall.