I have been following the overused plants thread, and it got me curious. What are underused plants for the South? I myself would love to incorporate some if feasible here in Texas area :)
Rhapidophyllum hystrix(Needle Palm) and Sabal minor(Dwarf Palmetto) are 2 sp. of shrubby palms hardy to zone 6b if sheltered from wind. These 'hardy subtropicals' should be grown much more.
I can tell you the palmetto is definitely on the OVERused list here in SC. LOL
Pussy willow? I've been looking for one for ages and finally had to import it from my cousin farther north.
Persian sheild is one that is underused, and what gorgeous foliage it has!
Anisacanthus wrightii - great firecracker red flowers.
Here is a link that might be useful: Pic of Anisacanthus
Serviceberry - amelanchier spp. Great small tree, early spring flowers and the birds love the berries.
Ginger lilies, for sure! I never saw these absolutely wonderful old-timey plants with the heavenly scent before moving here and now see them shockingly seldom.
Dicliptera suberecta, hummer plant
Here is a link that might be useful: Pic
Native plums, either P. angustifolia (Chickasaw plum) or P. umbellata (hog or flatwoods plum). Both make gorgeous blossoms in the early spring.
Awesome plants listed! I thought of another one, clerodendrum ungandense, blue butterfly bush. I have more research to do! Thanks for all the responses :)
Here's my list:
1. Viburnums - absolutely one of the great groups of shrubs with something for everyone, many of them four season standouts, but hardly anyone uses them - doublefile viburnums should be in everyones yard
2. Kousa dogwoods - a four season tree with numerous great cultivars - why isn't this used more often as it is a great tree for southern gardens
3. Japanese maples - another great group of shrubs/trees with a gazillion cultivars woefully underutilized in the south - adds a touch of class to any garden
4. Aesculus parviflora and pavia - should find a place somewhere in every garden
5. Clerodendron sp. - done correctly, a great shrub that loves the south
6. Oxydendrum arboreum - talk about underutilized, this could easily become one of the plants MaryNell was talking about when she said that some are utilized in greater numbers than Bradford pears and red tipped photinias, but never seem overused.
7. Halesia - what another great tree and a number of species from which to pick from
8. Stewartia - Dirr waxes poetic about his Stewartia monodelphia
9. Styrax - another great tree that is nowhere to be seen
Well, I could go on and on, but these are just a few of my favorites.
Well pterostyrax (and others), don't stop now this is really getting interesting. What a great list so far. As a result of the recent freeze I will probably have a lot of spaces to fill. Lots of good ideas here.
There are many native plants that are underused! Viburnums, sourwood, swamp dogwood (cornus ammomum), native blueberries, red buckeye, but let me put in a special word for the two types of illicium, floridanum and parviflorum. I live in an area that is heavily browsed by deer, and they've never touched any of my illicium bushes. They must really taste bad!
Clintonia and Hepatica wildflowers.
other natives that have not yet been mentioned might include:
clethra, itea and fothergilla.
a few years ago, i convinced a friend who works at a nursery to stock some of these plants. it appears that, judging from the remaining plants on the tarp, i might be the only one who bought some.
conversely, put a couple of rows of 'coral bells' azaleas out there and they are gone over the weekend.
i realize that these plants are not as versatile in foundation and formal plantings, but they have their places in the garden.
i don't see many fringe trees (chionanthus virginicus) in yards, either.... guess bradford pears rule that arena.
A beautiful MOIST soil lover- Fever tree (Pinckneya bracctea) resembles a pink poinsetta and a native to the southeast coast. Silverbell (Halesia carolina) tuff up little white flowers that pop out in early spring. Beauty berry ( Callicarpa americana ) Good for shade, kind of coarse looking but good in mass, "pank" flowers and the coolest looking bright purple fruit in fall.
correction--- Pinkneya bracteata.
hey Pterostyrax dont forget Gordonias
phdNC - Gordonia - great tree. I said I could go on and on, so here goes:
1. Zenobia pulverulenta - great blue-green foliage during the summer and superb fall colors
2. Prunus mume - just an outstanding flowering tree that blooms at early thirty, plus there are a number of outstanding cultivars - highly touted by J.C. Raulston
3. Calycanthus florida - beautiful, fragrant shrub
4. Paeonia suffruticosa - when was the last time you saw a tree peony?, but they can do well in the south given the right conditions - expensive, but what an outstanding plant
5. Rhus copallina - one of the best for fall color, plus red fruit that wildlife love
6. Hydrangea quercifolia - this is starting to pick up steam, but is still underutilized; great cultivars and magnificent fall color
7. Vitex agnes-castus - was once a southern favorite and is starting to make somewhat of a comeback
8. Osmanthus fragrans - great evergreen with unbelievable fragrance
9. Leucothoe - another great evergreen for shade
Well, that's enough. I'll let someone else cover the conifers and hollies.
This is a great thread, BTW. I will be printing this one out for future reference. Thanks for the great suggestions!
I like the old-fashioned passalongs and natives. One of my favorite is the winter honeysuckle bush - Lonicera fragrantissima - in full bloom right now. Big bush for full sun, and semi-evergreen.
Also, the native blackhaw viburnum. Awesome color in both spring and fall. Any of the native viburnums do great.
I also love my confederate rose mallow. It gets 10' tall and 15' wide. Is covered in huge peony like blooms in late fall. I think all the mallows are underused, though.
So many homes are stuck on evergreens, and the hardy perennials like mallows, cestrums, and hardy salvias get overlooked. Someone on another forum said they hated crinums because they got mushy in winter. I realize my garden will not always look it's best. That's usually the time I'm not as interested in getting out there (like today in the cold and rain). I go out and keep my enthusiasm going by smelling the narcissus and winter honeysuckle. Or look at the chinese witchhazel in bloom right outside the window. Then, I'll spend this downtime in seed starting, propagation, and dreaming/planning. When we are both rested, spring will be here.
For us novices, could you please break down some of these recommendations into sizes that would work for foundation plants and in relatively small yards? My flower beds are smaller than I'd like, too, but I hope to gain a little ground there this year by encroaching onto hubby's lawn a bit.
I want to second the suggestion of prunus mume. It blooms for me by February 12 (I know because it was an anniversary gift from my husband--what a great gift giver!), or thereabouts in Charlotte, and is so lovely after all the gray of winter. Of course, my neighbors think there is something wrong with it--that cloud of bright pink flowers so early in the season. But it is absolutely gorgeous right when I need a lift!
I dont know if you would consider them underused but I have had more questions from neighbors about some of my plants that people around here dont seem to grow much. I had celoisa(cockscomb) the kind that gets the weird shaped flower heads and a confederate rose and big pots of portaluca& clematis and you would not belive the people who did not know what they were.
My all-time favorite is the St. Joseph's lily. Taken for granted for many years (in New Orleans, it is a much-loved passalong plant almost always blooming around St. Joseph's day), this lovely plant is now being sought out. I did find one source for it and since it is considered rare, the only source I could find (Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, MI) lists it for $30 per bulb. Another of my favorites is the old fashioned magenta phlox that everyone grew and now you never see - it smelled divine, never got mildew and the color was glorious. I would dearly love to get my hands on one but cannot find a source. You really have opened Pandora's box - I have been reminiscing for some time. It has been wonderful. Thanks.
Morganred, is the phlox's name Phlox drumundii? I am trying to find a picture of it.
morganred- I found St. Joseph's on ebay of all places. I got a pretty good deal too.
Lots of good suggestions--but nobody mentioned Louisana iris! Used to be great fields of them fifty or so years ago, I'm told, but they've all been drained and built on I guess. The hybridizers have been hard at work and there are many wonderful cultivars, and the native species and natural crosses are great too. I'd also like to put in a plug for a small tree, Chionanthus retusus, the Chinese fringe tree. My mother had a friend with a large native fringe tree she let her cut for my wedding, so I have a great fondness for it and have one in my yard, but the chinese version overshadows it completely and started making a show before the native did even though it was planted about five years later. Wonderful tree all year; looks like a big fat cloud sat down in my yard in the spring, and the bark, the branching pattern, and the leaves are all attractive, plus it makes lots of blue berries the birds love. Our native plant expert feels we are too far south for the native fringe tree to do well here and the Chinese one seems better adapted. Very important to take those variables of heat, humidity, and winter chill--too often overlooked--into consideration. Bradford pear--mentioned frequently in the 'overused' thread--doesn't bloom well here most springs because it doesn't get enough chill hours. You think it's ugly in zone 7, try it here, where it's still over-used and has a little tuft of flowers every few feet the only time of the year it's sort of pretty!
Great suggestions--always looking for something different!
I like Hollandia Broom and Florida Flame Azalea.
I agree that clematis is underused...LIVE clematis that is. The trend around here seems to be buying huge ugly swags of silk clematis vines and wrapping them around mailboxes and decorative lightposts--I swear I've seen this in at least ten yards this week. Ugh!
Also, and I can't speak for any other area than mine in this, not enough people use the beautiful, heavenly-smelling moonflower. New Orleans has them all over the place, but no one up here does! (I'm planting several today! ^_^)
Well, what have you guys incorporated into your gardens from this thread? Here are
some I've had for a few years, and the rest I found because of you all's
Clerodendron quaducalaire (I know this isnt spelled right)
Clematis - have put 4 more cultivars in.
Native mock orange
Koelruteria paniculata (this is still in a pot, I got nervous with it as I have heard it
gets a box elder bug here in Texas on it, and with over 100 cultivars of roses in my
yard as well as other plants, I don't need to add a plant that attracts bug :)
Confederate rose mallow
Crinums, Gosh I love them!
St Joseph's lilly
only found a few LA Iris's
Thanks for all the responses! Please keep them coming! I need a shrub I can use like some use minature yaupon or box woods to surround certain beds.
Found another one that seems too good to be true. Take a look at the flowers and berries of Crataegus reverchonii. It appears to be another outstanding Texas native. When viewing, click on the "berries" and then on the "distant view of the tree" links. I have even found a source and ordered three of them where they are now residing quite nicely in my garden. Talk about something that beats a Bradford pear eight ways to Sunday......
Here is a link that might be useful: Reverchon's Hawthorn
That is so funny about the silk clematis around mailboxes. Hope it doesn't catch on here. I have never seen anyone use silk plants outside here.
Speaking of Ginger lilies, where in NC Zone 7 might one obtain Ginger lilies...just love 'em, but can't find 'em!
For Ginger lilies, ask around, they seem to be a favorite passalong.
For gingers and a host of other underused southern plants, try this nursery. You won't be disappointed!
Here is a link that might be useful: Plant Delights Nursery
I'm in a former rental house, pulling up the eighteen, yes, eighteen photinias and six variegated euonymous crowded into my urban lot with mature trees (Phoebus area of Hampton, VA). I'm still contemplating keeping the stinky formosa azaleas.
I love my new plants, all underused in this region:
1. tiarella cordifolia (foamflower) (From Lowe's, I only bought two, but I wish I'd bought more; the ones at the other nurseries don't have the same leaf color)
2. fragrant native azaleas (r. canecens, flammeum, austrinum, and R.x "My Mary")(unfortunately, the evil black losust tree is so fragrant that it drowns out the azaleas)
3. clethra alnifolia (summersweet, one from Lowe's, one from the Va native plant society sale; the Lowe's one has a million flower spikes, but starts to wilt after one day without water, the other one has just two flower spikes, but it seems much happier)
4. amelanchier serviceberry (not sure of species, sold as "shadblow" at Colonial Williamsburg nursery)
5. itea virginica "little Henry"
6. viburnum dentatum "blue muffin" (arrowood dwarf)
7. hexastylis (asarum) Shuttleworthii
8. chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold)
I can't wait for the fall native plant sale at the Virginia Living Museum, but the front yard is almost full (the viburnum and service berries are in the back yard). I have a butterfly garden in the back, but those are pretty widely-used flowers. I think shrubbery and groundcovers are the areas where native plants have been ignored. I usually buy from the large local nursery (MacDonalds Garden Center), but sometimes Lowe's carries good native selections. I saw some natives at HD, but the shade plants were in the sun, on death's door. Countryside Gardens (tiny neighborhood nursery) has Pachysandra procumbens; I might try it. They have a good selection of native perennials at decent prices, but they are really small.
Oh my gosh!!! What a source of info here. I wish I could just have all of you come over to my zone 7 house and just hang out and suggest. I haven't even heard of most of what was mentioned here. I'm such a beginner and if it isn't at Lowe's or another garden center I don't know it exists. I'd love to see all of your gardens.
Australian indigo is my current favorite, except that it is finally loosing it's leaves b/c of the cold weather. It makes gorgeous pink flowers. Michelle in New Orleans
native redbud and oakleaf hydrangea.
Can't believe no one has mentioned mountain laurel yet, and there are so many beautiful cultivars. Possibly our most beautiful southern flowering shrub - at least I think so.
Things I'm adding to the garden this year that I have rarely if ever seen in regional gardens (all herbaceous perennials):
Coreopsis Early Sunrise
Rudbeckia Autumn Sun
Veronica Blue Fox
Many, many lily species
Two more clematis =)
These are all chosen based on ability to tolerate heat or poor soil. Some of them I recognize are a bit of a stretch. I'm a bit further north than many of you though.
But really, I see the same dozen perennials in every yard or nursery I go to. There are soooooo many to choose from, but it seems no one uses them. And don't even get me started on annuals! I could die happy without seeing another petunia or pansy again.
Not that I don't have them or those overused perennials. But I like to branch out a bit. =)
I am familiar with some of these plants, but must say that a lot of them like acidic, moist but well drained soil. My PH is neutral and, even amended, is anything but well drained. For me the Mountain Mint aster (Aster Oblongifolius) is a real winner. Helianthus Angustifolius is also a must in my fall garden. Liatris takes my partially amended clay soil and keeps on growing and glowing. Chrysanthemum, Ryans Pink (and it's sports) also do exceptionally well. Lythrum "Mordens Pink" is a another must have (unless you have a water source nearby). And lest I forget, give daylilies a try. They are highly adaptable.
My choice for the most exquisite underused plant would be Stewartia malecodendron,followed by Stewartia ovata grandiflora ( in a mountain situation) in the South.
So many good plants! I am busy re-creating a native woodland setting in my landscaping and using as many natives as possible! These varieties are tougher and lower maintenance than all those imported hybrids. Forest Pansy Redbud Trees, Fothergilla (Mt. Airy), Callicarpa(American Beauty Berry), Oakleaf Hydrangea (Quercifolia), Red Twig Dogwood and Itea (Henry's Garnet). I am adding the Carolina Silverbell tree this spring and a Bottlebrush Buckeye as well. My neighbors now just ask all the time "what is that" and then they buy them too. No more Bradford Pears or Foster Hollies in our neighborhood. Now they are planting witchhazel trees and viburnums.
A buddy also gave me Persian Shield this year, it's gorgeous!
Thanks to Pterostyrax for identifying my mystery tree ... Reverchon's Hawthorn! There are so many wonderful plants listed here.
I agree with Steve about needle palm and palmetto - but in my case they-re underused becasue I can't find a SOURCE! Anyone know?
My votes for underused go to Prunus mume - Japanese Apricot - blooming and perfuming my garden right this minute
Chinese witch hazels - and native witch hazel too
Chioanthus definitely, but retusa as well as virginicus - Chinese holds golden leaves forever in the fall
callicarpa and halesia
Columbines and cardinal flowers for the wet spots.
I think the deciduous, native azaleas are seriously underused!! Another would be oakleaf hydrangeas. I just don't see why more people don't use them.
I agree with Croakie. Native azaleas Alabamense and Piedmont. also oakleaf hydrangeas. I use oakleaf H. as a foundation planting. All of these are beautiful and fragrant.
Brenda, Plant Delights sells both needle palm and palmetto. You should make a trip to the spring open house. I agree very definitely underused in NC.
Firespike (for hummingbirds and shade)
Murraya Paniculata (shrub for fragrance)
Mexican Flame Vine (for butterflies)
This has been the most wonderful thread to read, dream and plan . I've made lists of plants I need to look up and plan on using here at my house. I've got 2 acres to play with and WOW what choices with which to start on. Thanks to everyone!
turk's cap and aspidistra (sp?)
Quercus glauca and Ilex glabra just to name a couple. As a landscape designer availability usually is determined by hardiness and the plants suitability to the area. Check local nursuries...they usually have what is easiest to grow and what most people want...despite the fact that what most people want is what EVERYONE else already has. Natives seem to be the most underused. Go to any nursery and ask or save some trouble and call first...only a few actually have any selection worth lookin at. There in lies the native problem...not as showy, not as desirable, and not widely available. This list is impressive and it shows that you all really know your stuff.Happy gardening.
Black titi (Cliftonia monophylla)
Swamp cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora)
Blueberry (great for fire engine red fall color)
Maple leaf viburnum (also great for fall color, tends toward pink and purple, out of this world)
This is a great thread!
Blue violets! I don't know why these aren't planted more on purpose, they're gorgeous. All of the low growing spring flowers. Some have already been mentioned above like hepatica; also Atamasco lily, Virginia bluebells, spring beauty, toothwort...
Dura-Heat Birch... I LOVE this tree, it takes the heat without losing leaves, the leaves stay a nice dark green all summer. It also is a super fast grower, nice shape and of course, interesting bark in the winter.
I happen to like aspidistra (mentioned in one of the other posts), but you must read this description from a Texas nursery's web site. Too funny.
"Too ugly to live, too ornery to die. That pretty well describes the cast iron plant, Aspidistra elatior. Known to northerners as a nearly indestructible house plant that tolerates gloomy corners, it has another life in the South as a wretched-looking groundcover for shade. Under less than ideal conditions (i.e. real life), specimens take on a browning, scabrous appearance that's sure to detract from any garden. Aspidistra is hardy to zone 8 or a bit cooler. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to show off their black thumb."
Re: Silk clematis used outside
My step-mom once "planted" silk plants outside just to irritate an aunt of mine. The aunt is a plant snob and know-it-all (not that there is anything wrong with that!), but she doesn't have a lot of tact; she would exclaim to SM herself that SM's tastes were " so common". The worst was when SM planted two neat rows of marigolds in front of the main porch; Aunt about died. To get back at Aunt for the abuse and put downs, SM decided to push her buttons, hence, the silk plants in the yard.
How about pomegranate & 4 o'clocks... wonderful old standbye's that you don't see that much of anymore.
I used to live in Orange County, California. That's where I got my first Mandevilla x Alice DuPont. It bloomed 362 days a year, absolutley gorgeous clear pink trumpets that my neighbor thought were silk because they never stopped. It grew all over my front veranda. Here in Maryland they are not hardy. It's the frost.
Persimmon trees. When we bought our property it was rough and heavily wooded. But we found a fairly large old persimmon tree near our barn/workshop that is actually a nice tree. The bark is a pretty, rough dark grey/brown. It's messy of course this time of year, but I actually picked up some ripe ones yesterday and ate them. So sweet and delicious. It would be a good tree away from a house or driveway.
I can't believe this thread has bubbled up to the top after 3 years! Interesting suggestions for underused plants.
Please give japanese styrax a place in your garden!!I also love Euonymus americanus"hearts-a-burstig".It can't be beat this time of the year along with toad lillies,red buckeye seeds bursting from their pods.Now is the time of year also for Illicium Parviflorum to be loaded with seed pods!!Awesome!!Also give Giant Dogwood a place(Cornus Controversa).Water in dry times.
If you can obtain Pseudocydonia chinensis(Chinese Quince) give it a try.This is NOT Chaenomeles speciosa(Flowering Quince).Also give the little guys like Asarum and Hexastylis a chance in your shade area,with a little extra water.Don't be scared to plant Sugar maples either!!They do well if planted in a good hole and watered for the first couple of years.
If you have a source for Baptisia perfoliata,plant it!It is a sandhills endemic where I live and it is bulletproof!!Interesting perfoliate leaves clasping the stem and yellow flowers in the leaf axils.Foliage looks like eucalyptus and some people call it that.Drives me nuts!!Learn to ID your plants and you'll be much better off.I'll go for now and give someone else some"airtime".P.S. Red Buckeye seeds and Euonymus americanus seeds available now!!!!
I'm a bit late for this thread, years late :)
One plant that I love and that I think is underused here is Russian sage, Perovskia.
Here is a link that might be useful: Russian Sage