The southeast United States stretches from Virginia and Kentucky in the north to Florida in the south and Arkansas in the west. The climate ranges from subtropical in Louisiana to moderate in the states along the Atlantic coast. Because of the generally temperate weather, a wide variety of flowers, trees and shrubs thrive in the region.
Redbuds are small deciduous trees with short trunks. The plant is a popular ornamental because of its compact size and the pink to red flowers that bloom in early spring before the leaves form. The small blossoms cover branches and the trunk. The flowers drop after two or three weeks when the leaves appear. Redbuds produce pods that contain hard seeds that stay on the tree until after the leaves fall.
Magnolias are large trees with glossy leaves and fragrant, showy flowers that can be 3 or more inches across. They bloom from spring through summer and into fall, depending on the variety. Some magnolias produce fruits that resemble brightly colored cones. The seeds are expelled from the cone and hang by short strands for a few days. Sweet Bay magnolia is especially suited for the south. It’s hardy and will grow to 20 feet in height. As it matures, the branches spread.
Coreopsis produces delicate daisy-like flowers in colors ranging from yellow to pink. The plant blooms throughout the growing season and the flowers make pretty bouquets. Because coreopsis blooms profusely it makes a good border or as filler between other flowers. The plants are well-formed and can either be compact or sprawling, depending on the variety. Common varieties of coreopsis grow to 2 feet in height. The plant is pest and disease resistant and does well even if not watered frequently.
Rhododendron and Azalea
Plant taxonomists class all rhododendron and azalea as Rhododendron. Most varieties prefer humid, mild climates though there are varieties that are cold-hardy. Both plants produce showy flowers in the spring, but rhododendron will not flower if it’s grown in dense shade. Rhododendron can grow to 16 feet in height. The bushes commonly known as azaleas are shorter but some varieties can grow as tall as 7 feet. A number of rhododendrons and azaleas are evergreen, making them good landscape plants for the wintertime.
Crested iris is a dwarf variety that will flower in the shade in early spring. The flowers are usually white, lavender or blue. Because the plant spreads by rhizome, it’s unusual to see a single flower. They make good mass plantings or add color when placed at the front of the garden. The plant is usually 3 to 9 inches tall so it won’t compete with taller plants behind it. Crested iris will also thrive in a rock garden or woodland garden.