Moving from Prairie to SC Coast?

prairiegirlz5August 9, 2014

First, some background info. We have been working on the garden here in the Chicago suburbs for more than 10 years and have an extensive list of trees, shrubs and perennials, a long list of plants I know and love. We are considering a move to Charleston, probably not for another year or so. I am looking forward to a longer growing season, and to leaving tropical bulbs like canna and dahlias in the ground, growing fruit trees in big pots, lots of scented flowers, etc. Are there any specific plants that don't grow well down there that do great up here? This year I grew Joe-pye weed, Agastache 'Blue Fortune' and blackberry lilies together and it looked stunning. Can I grow ornamental grasses and sedums down there? How do coneflowers and phlox do? Dogwoods are my backbone "tree", as we need winter color, winter is sooo long and cold. I also have oak-leaf hydrangeas, KO roses, and viburnums. I'm also looking forward to growing lots of vines and vertical vegetable gardening, to soften the courtyard walls or disguise the backyard fence (not sure where we will live yet, downtown or James Island most likely). Do daylilies and hostas thrive in the heat down there? These two are go-to plants for filling empty spaces, very easy and hardy. But I'll be able to grow "houseplants" in the ground!! If you moved there, what plants did you bring/miss? TIA for your replies, I'm excited but scared, more emotional than I ever thought I would be. Silly goose.

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Prairie Girl,

All the plants you named should be fine except possibly hosta. I am from Charleston but never lived there as a gardener. However, I often take plants to my sisters in law, and the hosta have not survived!

Other plants I can think of that you can grow but we can't (even in zone 7 where I am - Charleston is zone 8) are delphinium and lupine. Some of the plants that like cooler climates will do better down here if you make sure they get afternoon shade. My lilac thrives like that, but I don't know about in Charleston.

You will be able to have bougainvillea and poinsettia in sheltered spots!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:35AM
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Ficus vine also grows well and is so nice to soften those hard surfaces like step risers:

Loquat and fig trees are good. And if you have never smelled tea olive, you are in for a real treat.

(I know you didn't ask for suggestions, but I needed to repost to be able to follow the thread - forgot to check the box!)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 9:50AM
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Thanks Kate! Suggestions are good. You mentioned that you became a gardener after you moved. I have lived in SC before, as a child, in Beech Island. All I remember is cotton, which is the one thing I probably am not interested in growing, lol. I know the heat is scorching. Our garden was probably all melons, peppers & tomatoes. Can you recommend any books that you have referred to again and again?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:55PM
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Prairie Girl,
I have referred to the Southern Living Garden Book and Southern Living Landscape repeatedly. Both are by Steve Bender. It seems I have foolishly passed them on to my daughter as I'm downsizing, but from memory, at least one of them explains all the climate zones of the southeast. There may be new editions out, but the older ones are still valuable.
I'm posting a link here in case you want to find a used copy.

Here is a link that might be useful: book comparison site

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Gardenias, gardenias, and more gardenias, Camellias, Oleanders, Sweet fragrant tea olive, (You really MUST get at least one of these), and all the above mentioned plants that you stated you like, they will all live here.
BUT, you will want to visit local yocal nurseries, and check out what they are selling.
Rosemary is a bush here, and you can make a topiary out of it.
Cannas grow really well here, and come back and spread every year. So do dahlias.
But what ever you do, buy an August Beauty gardenia as soon as you get settled in. (My favorite bush). Plant it where you will see it from your sitting area, they usually put out a real nice bloom in spring, and again in the fall.
See what you have to look forward to?
Don't be emotional, get excited.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:27PM
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