Many of the plants that grow wild in the mountains, valleys and swamplands of Georgia can be successfully cultivated in the home garden. These native plants have adapted to local conditions and therefore require minimal maintenance. Gardening with native plants also invites wildlife to the garden and helps to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species.
Magnolia grandiflora, commonly known as southern magnolia, grows between 50 and 100 feet tall. The tree features a straight trunk with rough, thick stems and shiny, leathery leaves. Fragrant white flowers, 8 inches wide, bloom in the spring. Southern magnolias prefer nutrient-rich, acidic soil and partial shade.
The carnivorous purple pitcherplant, or Sarracenia purpurea, collects water in its cup-like leaves to lure and trap insects. Bacterial activity and enzymes help the plant digest the insects and absorb the nutrients. In June, pink or red flowers appear amongst the curved, yellowish green to dark purple leaves. Plant this pitcherplant in full sun and wet, acidic soil.
The small deciduous shrub Aesculus parviflora, also known as bottlebrush buckeye, grows 6 to 12 feet tall. The lower branches reach to the ground and white flowers appear on tall spikes in early summer. The fragrant flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds but the seeds and leaves are poisonous to humans and animals. Bottlebrush buckeye prefers partial shade and well-drained, moist soil.
The high-climbing perennial vine known as trumpet honeysuckle reaches up to 15 feet in length. Clusters of red and yellow bell-shaped flowers bloom in the spring. Also known as Lonicera sempervirens, this vine has evergreen foliage and orangish brown exfoliating bark. Trumpet honeysuckle attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds when in bloom. Plant trumpet honeysuckle in full sun or partial shade and rich, well-drained soil.
Royal catchfly, or silene regia, grows wild in prairies and woodlands. The 2- to 5-foot stems bear red, 2-inch flowers in July. Hummingbirds often visit the brightly colored flowers. Royal catchfly performs best in partial shade and dry, loamy soil.
Hydrangea quercifolia, commonly known as oakleaf hydrangea, grows in the form of a shrub, reaching up to 12 feet tall. The dark green foliage turns red, orange and yellow in October and November. White flower clusters bloom and turn pink or purplish and then tan as the growing season progresses. The flowers remain on the shrub throughout the fall and the exfoliating bark provides winter interest. Provide oakleaf hydrangea with full or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. This hydrangea may suffer from chlorosis if planted in alkaline soils.
Turk's Cap Lily
The stems of turk's cap lily grow up to 10 feet tall and display drooping, spotted flowers with showy stamens from summer to fall. Up to 40 flowers of orange, yellow, red or white can grow on one plant. Turk's cap lily, or Lilium superbum, features a green star in the center of each flower. This lily will perform best in full sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soil.
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