Favorite unusual or (not so common) perennials for the south

Katt_TXAugust 3, 2004

It seems like most every time I read the perennial forum, most of the posters are from much cooler zones, or from more moderate summer areas like the PNW. A lot of the stuff they like just does not bloom or look all that good in the dead of summer here. And then when I visit some of the regional forums, much of the talk is about coneflowers, mexican petunia, yaupon holly, crape myrtles, lantana, etc.

So, besides the usual suspects -- what are you growing that is a consistent perennial performer in the south, having either great blooming and/or wonderful shaped or colorful foliage?

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Texas Star Hibiscus is a knockout all summer. And you can't beat old fashioned Rose of Sharon (Althea) for summer color. On a smaller scale is Blackberry Lily and for shade, the Hymenocallis is blooming now and is beautiful. Linda

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 8:55AM
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Nell Jean

Lilies -- Asiatic, Trumpet, Oriental, Crinum. Plant for a succesion of bloom.

Daylilies -- again, start with earlies through late bloomers and rebloomers. Even common 'ditch lilies' are showy with the right companions.

Setcreasea (purple heart)
Even common liriope has pretty lilac colored blooms this time of year, nice with lavender lantana and Purple Heart.

The Big C's - Cannas, Crocosmia, Caladiums and Colocasia.
Shrimp plant.
Hostas in the shade.

By this time of year, reseeding annuals like Catharanthus Rosea and Melampodium are reliable for color.

You see a lot of mention of coneflowers, mexican heather, lantana, crape myrtle and hydrangeas because they work in all this heat.


Here is a link that might be useful: Visit My Garden

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 10:01AM
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Salvia and agastache keep my garden in color throughout our long hot summer and I find myself collecting more and more of these. S. guaranitica also s. greggii, s. macrophylla and their hybrids are non stop color. I love the Acapulco series of agastache hybrids, not only for bloom but for the nice minty fragrance they add to the garden. Kalimeris also does well and makes nice filler. The small low mounding mexican petunias (Katie?) for the front of beds.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 12:09PM
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Nell Jean

Forgot about the salvias, Lisa!
Mexican Bush Sage (S. leucantha) is my favorite in the fall. Right now it's a nice 18" grey-green groundcover.
Pineapple Sage (S. Elegans) is another.
S. Coccinea is a reseeding annual for me, just now starting to bloom.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 1:55PM
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rosie(Deep South, USA 7A/B)

Old-timey ginger lilies. Can't wait for their fragrance!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 6:25PM
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josephine_sc(7/8 Clemson, SC)


    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 9:57PM
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live_oak_lady(Zone 9)

The wonderful vines---Rose of Montana, Moonflower, and, of course pentas which take the heat like nothing else.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 10:29PM
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Guara! Those twirling butterflies really are attractive~
And the ornamental grasses are gearing up for a lovely show too. Sweetgrass is my favorite. But the fountaingras & miscanthus make a nice display too.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 11:11PM
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Blooming_annie(z 8/9, Chas, SC)

Great thread! I agree with a lot of what has been mentioned and will add to this growing, diverse lists:
Indigo Spires is currently my favorite salvia because it has such a long bloom period (spring through fall).

Gerbera daisies for the same reason and also because of all the bright, happy colors they come in.

Spanish lavender because of the uniquely formed flowers and great foliage.

I'll have to brave the heat and see what else to add to this list!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 12:18PM
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soonerjan(z6 OK)

My favorite this year is the pink calla. I planted some a few years ago and they have done so well. This spring, I planted several bulbs in each of 2 footed urns. I put pansies on top for winter and then pulled them out and put blue daze for summer. The calla foliage came up thru the pansies and is fantastic and the height is something that I really needed for my front entry. They have bloomed all summer. I put time released fert and some of those water conserving crystals, which I love, with the soil. Will definitely try this again, even if they don't come back next year. I think that they will, though. I used a variegated foliage and they are wonderful! Try it. I am in Muskogee and although we have cold winters, our summers are very hot.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 2:29PM
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Chubbly(z9 FL)

I second the Crocosmia

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 2:49PM
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Paul_zone10(10b or 11 FL)

I second on the crinums Josephine! BTW, my wife & I visited Clock Museum and saw the Engles Monumental Clock (about 10 years ago)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 3:09PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Buddilea, roses, veronica Goodness Grows, salvia of all sorts, together with crepe myrtles, daylilies, and rudbeckia are backbone of the summer garden. And, actually, Virginia buttonweed has become one of my favorite groundcovers in and around shrubs and roses.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 5:53PM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

From Jacksonville, FL, it is hard to pick just one. Agastache 'Blue Fortune' looks great and is attacting a wide variety of insect pollinators to add some life to the summer garden. Peacock gingers (Kaempferia and Cornukaempferia) are great for the shade.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 6:08PM
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Blooming_annie(z 8/9, Chas, SC)

I just wandered around my yard, my neighbors yard, and our shared garden to come up with some more things that do well in zone 8/9: Phillipine Violet (Barleria), Princess flower (tibouchina), chaste tree (vitex), cigar plant (cuphea), jerusalem thorn (parkinsonia), santolina, forsythia sage, the short little ruellias in pink, purple, or white (they don't spread as badly), Bright Eyes and David phlox.

I'll keep adding more to this thread as they come to mind.

Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 12:34PM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

I have had good luck with a unusual (to me) plant called Bouvardia ternifolia. It stays covered with small but brilliant red trumpet shaped flowers. The hummers love it. The nurseryman who sold it to me last year told me it was a annual so I left it outside and hoped I would find another this year but with the mild winter we had, it never even died down and started blooming again very early in the Spring.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 7:44PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

How about ol' Autumn Joy sedum? This has got to be one tough plant. And very nice looking...

I have most of the above mentioned and those I don't have I'm going to add!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 7:29PM
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oldblush(8a, MS)

How about Sedum Acre (commonly called moss sedum). As tough as sedum Autumn Joy but grows low and spreads along the ground. The blooms are small yellow in spring but the foilage is what it's famous for. It's a lime green in summer and reddish in winter. I have some planted in an old bird bath that hardly ever gets watered and has frozen solid in the winter. I have some that is covering the ground under a Mutabilis rose, I just mulch over it and it reemerges through the mulch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sedum Acre

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 6:27AM
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serenoa(z8b, FL)

Datawgal, I saw Bouvardia in the mountains of Mexico several years ago and assumed it would not tolerate a hot summer. They are attractive. Do yours show any heat stress in summer?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 12:13PM
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Nell Jean

Sedum acre is one of my favs, too, OldBlush. It will grow in a depression in limestone rock, forming 'rocks that grow flowers' as my gardening guru, Miss Billie, calls them.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 1:52PM
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Datawgal(8/9 SC)

Serenoa, the Bouvardia seems to love the heat. It stays in full bloom and has no trouble with our intense humidity or weeks of daytime temps in the 80's and 90's. I have it on my deck and it does get a breeze off the river, perhaps that helps.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2004 at 5:21PM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

I like my ballon flowers (platycodon), I cut it back after the first bloom and it is reblooming now. I also have several varieties of reblooming iris, which will have their second bloom soon. Guara is another which will rebloom if cutback after the initial flush. (As you can tell I like things which bloom alot).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 11:04AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Goldenrod: solidago. Mine look wonderful all year long, nice and green...they are all dwarf varieties. Take the heat, bloom for long periods of time.
Woods asters also stay neat looking until bloom time.
I also like Ironweed, rudbeckias of all sorts, and the hardy iceplants, which are staples of the garden all summer long. I found two which take the humidity provided their soil is very well drained.
These all bloom in my garden right now, probably starting at the tail end of July and bloom until the end of September.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2004 at 5:24PM
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Linda_e(SW LA z8b)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Indigo Spires salvias. They bloom all summer long in our sweltering heat and high humidity. And I love the Mexican sages, too, as well as a lot of the other perennials listed. Also, no one has mentioned the old timey petunias that reseed themselves and smell heavenly. And there's the old garden roses, the reblooming ones...they're troopers in my gardens.

This is a great thread, BTW. I get so tired of picking up a gardening magazine touting all these fantastic perennials and then you find they're not tolerant to our heat and humidity.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2004 at 2:17AM
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julesnega(7B/NE GA)

Goldenrod and Joe Pye weed are in full bloom here in the mountains. Weeds to some, but I love them.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2004 at 10:06AM
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lextra(z6b, SE MO)

The one I'm working with right now is a native of the hot south (annual here) the bat fact Cuphea (llavea) Its covered with bright red,thin trumpet like flowers with a dark purple with a tiny "bat face" on the tip...The hummers here love it and it just keeps on blooming and blooming and blooming! It really is a show stopper.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 10:06PM
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My favorite unusual perennials are pitcher plants and sundews, but if you mean plants for a regular non-wetland garden, mine are: a very narrow-leaved Bluestar (Amsonia ciliata), Ironweed (Vernonia angustifolia), Dotted Horsemint (Monarda punctata), Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), Swamp Hibiscus (Hibiscus grandiflorus), Salt Marsh Mallow (Kosteletzkya virginica), Red Basil (Calamintha coccinea), Conradina (Conradina cansecens), Sensitive Plant (Mimosa strigillosa), Deertongue (Carphephorus odoratissima), New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) and all the Blazing Stars, especially the really tall blazing star, Liatris squarrulosa.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 7:48AM
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Carletta(9 TX)

I like centratherum (a/k/a Brazilian Buttons). It's faithful and lives through anything. Abelmoschus in red, rose/pink and yellow does pretty well also.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2004 at 4:59PM
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nita1027(z7 MS)

Did I miss these in the lists above? Agapanthus, Purple Dome Aster, September Ruby Aster, Lady in Black Aster, Toad Lily, October Skies Aster, Formosa Lily, Phlox, a variety of showy sedums, Agave in your neck of the woods, some phormiums, some cordylines, caryopteris, creeping phlox, copper canyon daisy, tagetes lemmonii, polygonum (persicaria) Red Dragon, polygonum Firetail, surprise lilies, bamboo iris, japanese roof iris, siberian iris, iris pseudacorus, louisiana iris, germander, a host of beautiful grasses, lysimachia (some aren't invasive somewhere)...


    Bookmark   September 17, 2004 at 11:08PM
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pheobuscottage(7b VA)

I see that Biophilia mentioned them, but I have to repeat the Hibiscus moscheutos and Kosteletzkya virginica, aka rose mallow and seashore mallow. They look so tropical, but they're not. Seashore mallow is the Virginia Native Plant Society's wildflower of the year for 2004, so I think it will no longer be the south's best-kept secret.

Then there are the six-foot tall goldenrods and swamp sunflowers which are just blooming now (towering over the asters).

Here is a link that might be useful: seashore mallow

    Bookmark   September 30, 2004 at 6:14PM
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LaDenaTxZone8(z8 TX)

I saw someone already mentioned Bat Face Cuphea. It is really a neat plant. The hummers here like it along with African Blue Basil and Russelia sarmontosa. Two of my other favorites are the dark purple Duranta and Incense passion vine.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2004 at 11:27PM
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