All I have is ligustrum and want hummers/butterflies

newtocharlestonFebruary 26, 2006

Hi, friends - I've just relocated to Summerville (just outside of Charleston, SC) from San Francisco Bay area where I had a 1906 home with a lovely, established garden, with no lawn at all. We've bought a home in a lovely neighborhood, but we bought a new home from the builder and all I have is centipede grass and ligustrum that hasn't been cared for at all. I've got Mrs. Whaley's book, "Garden Perennials for the Coastal South", "Some Like It Hot", and The Gardener's Guide for Charleston and the Lowcountry. So, my main problem is not what to plant, but what to plant *when*. None of these books are set up to tell me what I should buy in late Feb/early March and put in the ground. I want a lovely herb garden (will any be perennials here?), and also want to attract butterflies/hummers in any way possible. I also want fast-growing vines, etc, so that my yard isn't completely naked for years to come. I also need some evergreens and some things for winter show (it's terribly naked right now). Thanks in advance to any of you who have ideas!

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Welcome to the Carolinas! We're so glad to have you. I have two books to recommend to you that I have found to be very helpful for gardening in our area (I'm a wee bit further north in Wilmington, North Carolina). You can run out to your nearest bookstore and buy these books or you can usually find them cheaper online at or

The Southern Gardener's Book of Lists by Lois Trigg Chaplin
Month-by-Month Gardening in the Carolinas by Bob Polomski (there is an older version and an updated version of this one; get the newer version if possible.)

Month-by-Month Gardening in the Carolinas sounds exactly like what you are looking for. It will tell you what to do and when to do it. I'll include a link to that one at the bottom of this email.

I plant for hummingbirds and butterflies myself and one of the vines I'm going to try this year is the Cardinal Flower vine as I heard it grows fast and is very attractive to hummers. Be wary of some vines in your new gardening zone. Because of the long growing season and mild winters, many things can get invasive here. Like kudzu. Be afraid of kudzu; very afraid . . . think Jack and the beanstalk. Without the golden goose.

Seriously, that's where the other book will come in handy. It gives lists of the best hummingbird vines and perrenials, best butterfly vines and perrenials, best plants for humid wet sites, best plants for dry sights, best roses to grow up a pillar, and on and on.

Very best of luck to you with your new southern garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Month-By-Month Gardening In the Carolinas

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 8:35PM
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Welcome to the Low Country!

The simple answer to your question is that you can plant most everything twelve months of the year. The winter months are best for planting evergreens and deciduous shrubs, roses and perennials (if hardened off) in February, annuals when it warms in the spring, winter blooming annual gardens in September. In this sandy soil you must water well during the first growing season of any new plant. Also be aware that many perennials marked for bright sun are usually happier in dappled shade or just morning sun. You will go through a learning process coming from CA. The gardening situations are not the same.

Suggest that you attend the open garden tours in Charleston this spring and really study the plant material, how it is used and the light conditions they are growing in. This is one of the trickiest parts of growing in this area. Viewing these old gardens is an excellent way to become acquainted with the various vines that will grow here and how they are used in the landscape. Hummers are attracted to many plants and you should find lists in the suggested books. had better Google the latest information on treating mole crickets. That will be a new experience for you.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 4:51PM
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To answer some of your questions. Yes some herbs are perennials in our region. Lemon Balm, Mint, and Oregano to name a few. Most of these you want to plant after fear of last frost. To attract hummingbirds heres a mixture that hummingbirds can not resist. Tropical Butterfly Weed, Verbena on a stick, Red Salvia, Shrimp Plant, Nicotiana, and Petunia. Hummingbirds love red and orange flowers that are tubalur in shape. As for the butterflies they will enjoy the cominations above also, if the hummers let them get close. You can add the wonderful Butterfly Bush and some Lantana in your yard. Butterflies love these also. Try putting a wide shallow dish of water close for the butterfies to drink and your sure to have many. Hope this info is helpful. Happy gardening. P.S. If herbs are planted outside, plant extra for butterfly larve to eat on or they may not be much for yourself.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 10:50PM
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