What Plants do I need to Belong?

drippy(7bAL)March 26, 2008

I've often said that living in SE MA, you need to have at least a hydrangea and a rosa rugosa to mark yourself as a true gardener here. Moving to Upstate SC, what plants are truly a defining part of everyone's garden life?

Thanks in advance,


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Well I'm in NC, but if anything is particularly in style right now it's probably drought-tolerant, water-wise plants.

I like unusual plants myself. Abutilon 'Orange Hot Lava' is one I plan to put in this year, and it would like your zone very much. I'm not sure if it is drought-tolerant or not, but it loves the heat. I have cool colors in the sunny front yard and I will be putting hot colors in the half-shaded back yard.

I hope you get the answer you're looking for.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 12:02AM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

Veggie wise: Collards, corn, Orka, Toms, Cucs, watermelons, Maybe Kale and of course lettuce is big here, at least in my garden

1eyedJack and the Dawg

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:15PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I would say the plant/tree/shrub that to me represented the "idea of the South" when I first moved here was a crape myrtle. There are perhaps others now, but that was the deciding one for me - camellias come close, but they also thrive in the PNW - crape myrtles NEED the hot summers here to do well.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 7:44PM
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quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

Brugmansia aka Angel's Trumpet is a southern garden standout! I see a lot of Confederate Rose Hibiscus at the SC shore. Robin from Boston, MA now NC

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 8:03PM
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Tammy Kennedy

i'd have to say gardenias and magnolias (not that i have a magnolia- no room!) along with a second for camellias. I didn't know about crape myrtles til i moved south, but had certainly heard of and expected the others. Now i think of them, and brugs, too.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:07PM
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Evergreen azaleas.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:18PM
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Thank you! I think it's cool how certain plants "define" a region - I'm not really talking wildflowers, although of course, they do. It seems that certain plants are cultivated regionally, though. Along the south coast of MA and Cape Cod, hydrangeas are cultivated everywhere. Rosa rugosas are cultivated by some of us, but only those who don't mind a little wildness to the garden - they grow wild on the beach here, and some people think of them as weeds. I start them from seed, LOL. Holly is very important here, too.

I definitely hope to have a crape myrtle when I get there. I have successfully germinated them here, but not been able to get them to survive, even the supposedly hardier varieties. The pictures look gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to growing some. I haven't even looked at camellias yet, and gardenias? Well, they're a houseplant here - I can't even imagine the joy it will be to be able to grow these things!

How about herb gardens? Herb gardening seems to be a standard of NE living. I'm hoping to set one up there that will include English garden herbs like lavender, elecampagne, and hypericum ascyron, as well as the classic culinary herbs. The prospect of year-round rosemary is close to a dream come true for me!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:30PM
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I moved here (Durham) from MA in late 2006 and I couldn't wait to start growing camellias and gardenias. The house we bought already had a magnolia and a couple of redbud trees. The really great thing here is that you can still have a lot of the plants that you grew and loved in MA - plus a lot of wonderful new stuff. Some things won't grow here - lupines, delphiniums and most lilacs, but most other plants do well here. And you're right about the year-round rosemary. I have a huge plant by my side porch, and it's wonderful.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 7:49AM
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You need at least one dogwood too. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 8:23AM
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I moved here from Florida almost two years ago, and although geographically speaking the move was northern, I definitely had the same idea to get very "Southern" in my garden. After giving the new landscape a chance to settle after the first series of frosts, I planted a dogwood tree and a gardenia bush, and felt more Southern already. Then a fringe tree and a japanese maple, and I moved on to daylilies, irises, columbine, a purple smoketree, some fragrant tea olives, an azalea hedge, a "Miss Kim" lilac, pieris, a yoshino cherry tree, carolina silverbell, magnolia stellata, and tons of bulbs (over 300 planted last year, I think!). This week was spring break for my wife and I, and so instead of freezing our keisters off at the beach, we put in new vegetable and herb gardens to plant after IRS Day, and will finish planting six blueberries today. We also have two apple trees...don't forget about the edible Southern garden!

Still so much to plant until I really feel Southern...great suggestions above, and I want to get into some shade stuff like trillium and hellebores for the woods. I will also admit I have some more "Northern" plants in here as well for contrast--a blue spruce, a weeping willow (a Canadian variety with yellow bark and disease/borer resistance), a hedge of so-called California lilac (ceanothus thyrsiflorus--very neat little evergreen shrub with lilac-like flowers). But I feel like I'm on the way. It's a fun journey--enjoy and welcome!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 10:43AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Crapes, magnolias, redbuds and dogwoods. Check the Masters golf tournament in a week or so and you'll see most of what is southern-defining there, and looking really good.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 12:01PM
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Definatly Dogwood, Magnolia, Azeala, Crape Myrtle. I also see tons of bulbs for spring. We native Carolinians love our first spring color!! :-) For flowering, fruit producing trees, get a pear, apple and peach. Lots of folks plant crabapple. They have beautiful pink blooms in the spring and the wildlife loves the fruit. It is actually consumable by humans, bitter in the natural state, but it makes a GREAT jelley. My Mother and Grandmother used to make it every fall from the trees in the yard where I grew up. Wisteria vine is a pleasant childhood memory as well as honeysuckle. Back then, it was more or less considered a weed.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 8:10PM
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"Peaches for me..." :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 9:06PM
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CRAPE MYRTLES baby! Oh my gosh, you are going to have so much fun discovering all the 'new' plants for old southern gardners. I have lived here just under two years and am having a blast. Spend lots of time driving around. The crape myrtles don't start blooming until mid summer and it's a welcome surprise. They are everywhere, lots of different colors, and the bark in the winter is interesting. We planted six last year. They are very fast growing.

Gardenias are wonderful and seem to be easy to grow. There are different varieties. I have one that looks great all winter. The neighbor's variety dies back quite a bit but recovers. Camelias are shocking to this midwestern girl........ who knew you could have something bloom in December???

Dogwoods grow in the woods like redbuds do in the midwest. They are beautiful among the pines. I planted a Forest Pansy redbud last fall..... it's just starting to bloom.

Magnolias obviously scream SOUTH! They are gorgeous year round. Osmantus is a great evergreen with fragrant flowers, either once or twice a year, depending on variety.

Chinese fringe is a nice contrast to green bushes. Landscapers also seem to like laurel.

Just for the record, my husband and I have fescue grass that we LOVE! Some of the neighbor's have Bermuda that they swear by. Coming from a colder climate I can't imagine not having green grass year round if you can! =)


    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 12:40AM
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Being a native South Carolinian, my garden is based on nostalgia plants. I grew up climbing a Dogwood tree so I had to have it in my garden. Luckily the land we bought had a mature tree on site.

I have planted Magnolia trees, Fragrant Tea Olives, Gardenias ( my grandmother grew them) Camellias, Crape Myrtles, Daffodils, Azaleas, Winter honeysuckle, Confederate Jasmine, Hydrangeas, Hosta, Roses- especially Lady Banks Rose, Day lilies, Petunias, Impatiens,Quince, Plum trees, Ornamental Cherry trees, and Hollies.

Quite a few of my plants have been propagated from plants from my Mother's and Grandmother's garden.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 1:43AM
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Well, some great noisette roses started life in Charleston, SC. SC is a perfect place to grow some of the old garden roses ( teas, chinas, noisettes) that don't like cold climates. There are two great rose nurseries that I know of in SC...Roses Unlimited and Ashdown. WE have some in NC too. You'll be in a great place for roses, but can't say that you see these in every yard. Roses are remarkably drought tolerant once established.
Happy Move,

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 12:07PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

Yeah a Confederate Jasmine is one thing you should get for year-round focus.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 3:07PM
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You're moving to a zone that offers you the opportunity to grow an incredibly diverse array of plants. You may adore the southern standards already mentioned. On the other hand, there are public gardens, arboretumns, garden tours, open garden days, and commercial display gardens that give you the opportunity to see the abundance available. I recommend you do some looking before planting.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Linda I'm glad you brought up the roses. Every Southern gardens needs at least one China, tea and noisette.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 5:40PM
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I grew up in MA and only moved to NC three years ago. As far as I'm concerned, every NC garden should have Camellias, Gardenias and Crepe Myrtles. These are plants, that I could never have dreamed of growing back "home" and now I have them flourishing in my garden. I'm sure there are plently more plants, but these are the first that popped into my head.

I love the fact that bulbs that you'd have to dig up in MA, ie Callas, Dahlias, etc, you can leave in the ground here in NC. I love gardening, but digging something up, that I just planted, isn't my idea of fun, especially when I have so much work to do to get my garden up to snuff, that it seems like double the work to me. Now, eventually when I get to a point where I'm just maintaining, then maybe I won't mind digging up tender bulbs, but for right now, forget about it!!

And lastly the most exciting thing that happenend to me last year was the fact that the annuals I planted the year before, petunias and vincas, actually reseeded themselves and I didn't have to plant a single annual last year. I actually had so many more plants that I had to go buy more pots and planters. Never in all my gardening life in MA, did I ever have an annual reseed itself and it was an amazing surprise to me. (Had I known, I may have planted a better variety of colors the year before LOL!)

Welcome to the Carolinas.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 11:25AM
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Froma SC gardener, I hate azalea bushes. Yes, they are pretty when in bloom but it doesn't last long and then they are just plain out of control grenn bushes. I love yellow lady banks roses,Mexican petunia, roses, spirea, hydrangea is an always at least one in the yard somewhere. I have three white, one pink and I forgot about the other two it is only there second year and they are babies. But good luck, I also like plumbago, it is a pretty airy bush with light blue flowers. Good luck

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 11:02AM
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Claire Pickett

I hear you, Drippy...I'm from SE MA too...here for 12 years.
I agree that Crepe Myrtles may tend to replace that empty spot in your heart where lilacs once bloomed.

Did anyone mention the jasmines, Carolina and the oh so sweet Star/Confederate, which is quite hardy here if protected just a bit. You will love violas and pansies during the cold seasons. They really can't be grown effectively up North.

Take a stroll through the UNC Botanical Gardens (free on 15-501 in Chapel Hill) to see plants that strike your fancy.

Claire from Sanford, formerly of Plymouth, MA

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 3:06PM
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