Seeking shade friendly natives - GA.

cathy13(z7 GA)May 13, 2007

After 2 years in my home, I'm ready to tackle the yard. The lot is fairly well wooded with red oak, hickory, poplar, and a couple of pine trees. I'd like to identify plants that will grow will in partial shade to full shade and also provide food and shelter for birds.

I have a single red tipped photinia that a yellow bellied sapsucker comes back to each winter - is it native? If not, are there natives that he will like for the sap?

I'd appreciate any advice or websites you feel would be helpful. Many thanks for your help.

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Hi Cathy, you definitely want to be involved with the Georgia Native Plant Society. Most events are held in the metro Atlanta area, but even the website is a source of information for you.

You should identify how much shade you have (2 hours of sun, 4 hours of sun ...?) to determine if you have partial shade or deep shade. Which I know you said you have both, but figure out which areas have partial shade; berry producing plants will need at least partial shade (and will do better if you can provide up to 6 hours of sun). Viburnums are good berry plants (and there are many native ones). Serviceberries are a favorite food also; these are small trees, but they do need some sun.

If you can't provide much sun, then you could concentrate on plants that provide cover for birds.

Red tip is not a native plant (it is a hybrid between chinese and japanese plants), but if it is not invasive, you may not want to worry about removing until you have a replacement started. Since it is usually evergreen, it is a good cover plant for birds. Other trees that sapsuckers like are hollies and sugar maples.

I find this to be a good site to determine if a plant is native or not: USDA Plants Database

What area of Georgia are you located? I'm just north of Atlanta.

Here is a link that might be useful: Georgia Native Plant Society

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 6:00PM
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cathy13(z7 GA)

ESH, thanks for the Ga. Native Plant Society link. I found a brochure that will be helpful. I'm NW of Atlanta in Cobb County.

It looks like my prime plant locations are generally all shade all the time, with some areas getting around 4-6 hours or so of sun. At least I can make a bed around the mailbox for full sun... Much of the yard gets early morning sun and very late afternoon sun with shade during the middle of the day. Is that good news?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2007 at 8:43PM
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6 hours is considered "full sun" for many plants. Plants love morning sun, many will tolerate afternoon sun. I think you can work with that and perhaps have more flowers (and berries) than you think.

Identify the best plants for birds and be sure to plant those in the sunniest locations. That way you have the best chance for making fruit. Be mindful of which plants need male/female pairs (like hollies) and which ones benefit from similar plants for cross pollination (like viburnums). Serviceberries are one such plant that requires neither.

I decided a couple of years ago to try a native planting at the mailbox. I put penstemon, lobelia cardinalis, mouse eared coreposis, heuchera, a couple of more sun tolerant ferns and Goldenrod (the 'Fireworks' cultivar). The penstemon and coreposis bloom early and the others bloom in the late summer. I thought it turned out nice:

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 6:46AM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I recommend you check out the native plants growing in your area and see if there are any that appeal to you. It will take time to learn to tell the natives from the invasive, non-native plants, but you'll get a great introduction to the area's plants and you'll be able to see which grow well in conditions similar to your yard. In most developed/subruban areas much of the woods are infested with non-native, invasive plants you wouldn't want to grow in your yard, but you can usually find some areas where the native plants remain. keep in mind that many natives bloom for only a part of the summer, so it may take a full year or more to discover even the most common plants, but I think you'll enjoy the process.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2007 at 2:02PM
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