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Native Plants in Mississippi

Mississippi has an abundance of native plants, many of which are available from commercial growers, which is where the gardener should get them. They have been grown under controlled conditions, and the ones growing in the wild should remain there because they are an important part of the natural environment. Planting native plants assures you that they will be acclimated to local climate and soil conditions.

American Bellflower

The American Bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum) is also known as the tall bellflower. The plant grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet. The stems are topped with lavender/blue-colored, five-petaled flowers that can grow as a single flower or in clusters.

The plant is an annual--a plant that lives for one year--and blooms in June, July and August. The plant likes partial shade (three to six hours of sun a day) and rich, moist but not wet soils. Its natural environment is in the woods, thickets and by shady streams. The plant is a favorite of butterflies.

Wild Strawberry

Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is also known as the Virginia strawberry. The plant grows close to the ground with hairy stalks that produce clusters of tiny five-petaled flowers that bloom in April, May and June and are followed by edible, sweet wild strawberries.

All of the cultivated strawberry varieties can trace their ancestry back to the wild strawberry. It is a perennial plant--one that lasts for several years. Its natural habitat is in the fields, prairies and along the edges of woods. The plant can grow in full sun--at least six hours of sunshine a day, or partial shade and likes a dry soil. The wild strawberry will attract wildlife and butterflies.

Wild Red Mallow

The wild red mallow (Hibiscus coccineus) is also known as the scarlet hibiscus. It is a perennial shrub that dies back in the winter and reappears in the spring. The plant can have a single or numerous stems that grow as tall as 7 feet. Wild red mallow produces bright red flowers that have five petals and measure from 6 to 8 inches across. Each flower will only live for a day, but new flowers will appear all summer and through the fall.

The leaves are palmate, looking like a hand with three to seven fingers. Its natural habitat is in swamps and marshes and along the banks of rivers and streams. The plant likes full sun, and moist soil. It will survive flooding and dry spells, but if it gets too dry, the plant will not produce flowers.

Virgin’s Bower

Virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana L.) is also known as devil's darning needles, and old man's beard. Virgin’s bower is a vine that grows to from 12 to 15 ft in length. It produces numerous clusters of small, white flowers, small dry feathery fruits and bright green leaves that change colors and fall off. Its natural habitat is along roadsides where the soil is moist, damp thickets and along the banks of rivers. The plant is very versatile. It can grow in sun, partial shade or full shade and soil that is moist or dry. The leaves are poisonous to humans and will attract hummingbirds and bees.

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