ShadyGardens Blog

May 21, 2014

Cherokee Rose: Georgia’s State Flower

Filed under: cherokee, China, flower, Georgia, native, plant, rosa laeveigata, rose, state — shadygardens @ 12:56 pm

Probably because the Cherokee Rose is Georgia’s State Flower, I am often asked if we grow it. Most have been disappointed or even shocked when I told them that we did not. 

Since it is Georgia’s State Flower, one would assume the Cherokee Rose is native to Georgia, but this plant originally came from China. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although our specialty is plants that are native to these parts, we grow many plants that are native to Asia. However, we do have to be careful with Asian plants, since many can be very invasive here (kudzu, honeysuckle, and wisteria), but that’s a separate post.

If the Cherokee Rose is not native to this state, you might be wondering how in the world it became Georgia’s State Flower. And furthermore, how did it come to be called the “Cherokee Rose”? There is an interesting legend behind that.

One of our nation’s earliest nurserymen, Thomas Affleck, introduced Rosa laeveigata and sold it to landowners all over the South in the 1800’s. Since that time, Rosa laeveigata has naturalized all over the state of Georgia. One of the saddest things in history to me is the removal of Cherokee families from their land in Georgia when they were forced to march on foot all the way to Oklahoma. This tragic relocation of the Cherokee became known as the “Trail of Tears.” According to the legend, every time a tear hit the ground, a rose grew in its place. That rose was Rosa laeveigata, later to be called the Cherokee Rose.

In 1916, the Cherokee Rose was designated as the State Flower of Georgia with the support of the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs. Often confused with Rosa bracteata, the McCartney Rose, the Cherokee Rose blooms in Spring and is not invasive.

The Cherokee Rose is a vigorous climbing rose with ferocious thorns, but can be pruned and grown as a hedge. Large white flowers with yellow centers cover the plant in March or April.

Having learned this interesting piece of history, we might decide to produce this beautiful rose after all. If for no other reason than to remind us of an important event in history that should never have happened. Nowadays it seems everyone has something to grumble about. Oh, “Woe is me,” they seem to be saying. Well, imagine if you had been a Cherokee, back in 1838.

Look for us to have Rosa laeveigata in the future. Hopefully in the mean time, I can learn to spell it.

May 17, 2014

Bumble Bees are in Trouble Too!

Filed under: bumble bees, decline, endangered, honeybees, native, pollinators — shadygardens @ 7:11 pm
We often hear about the decline of the honeybee due to overuse of pesticides, herbicides, loss of habitat, and Colony Collapse Disorder (a general term used to express the decline of the honeybee population due to bees leaving the hive to die for reasons we do not know.) But did you know our native bumblebees are in trouble too? Honeybees are not the only pollinator in trouble. Our native bumblebees have faced a sharp decline all across the United States. The loss of bumblebees would severely affect our nation’s ecosystem, not to mention our farming system and our food supply.




Bumblebees love our Native Buttonbush,
Cephalanthus occidentalis

As a child I would sit on the back door step and watch bumblebees for an hour or more. The beautiful buzzing little bees just fascinated me. I think the reason there were so many bees there is because it was the only spot in the yard where lots of clover and other wildflowers grew. The bees loved it, and so did I. I enjoyed watching them, but I did not know then how important they are.



Bumblebees are more important to our environment than the non-native honeybees. Bumblebees pollinate native plants and wildflowers that produce seeds for birds and other wildlife. Bumblebees are the most important pollinators for many of the crops we depend on like blueberries and tomatoes. I just learned that farmers actually depend on bumblebees to pollinate crops grown in a greenhouse like peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. Wow! That is fascinating.

According to the Xerces Society, several species of the North American Bumblebee are on the verge of extinction. The main cause of bumblebee decline is the overuse of pesticides which kill not only the bad insects but also pollinators like the bumblebee.

You might be thinking, “Yes, but what can I do about it?”

Well, first of all, don’t use pesticides. Let nature take its course. If you don’t spray pesticides on your grass, flowering plants, and shrubs, birds and good bugs like Lady Bugs will take care of the problem naturally.

Secondly, plant flowers. Any kind of flowers. Bumblebees are not picky–they will visit any and every flower available to them. So just plant what you like. Try to have flowers available for them in every season. Here in the mild climate of Georgia, bumblebees are out from late winter to late fall. I’ve even seen them buzzing around on a warm day in January when our Mahonia was in full bloom.

There might not be much you can do about some some problems occurring in our environment, but this is one area where your actions can definitely make an impact.

If you are interested in trying to identify which kind of bumblebee you are seeing in your garden, take a look at BumbleBee.Org.

April 11, 2014

Native Bees ID Chart

Filed under: bees, chart, description, ID, identification, native, plants, pollination, pollinators — shadygardens @ 1:43 pm

Identifying the bees on the poster “Join the Conversation about Native Bees”
Written by Stephen Buchmann, Ph.D., Interim NAPPC Coordinator, Pollinator Partnership

  1. Macropis nuda. There’s oil in some flowers. Flowers including Spotted       Loosestrife (Lysimachia spp.) produce energy rich and nutritious floral oils which some female bees (Macropis nuda) collect using modified leg hairs like “oil squeegees” to enrich their brood provisions. This happens in some tropical bees (especially the genus Centris) but in the northeastern USA, only in these interesting little Macropis oil bees.
  2. Agapostemon texanus. US sweat bee (a male Agapostemon texanus) is especially colorful. Males of this species have a shiny green/brassy head and thorax but a wildly contrasting black and yellow-banded abdomen. Look for these bees on sunflowers and other common plants in the late spring and summer. 
  3. Peponapis pruinosa. Squash and gourd bees (like our Peponapis pruinosa) are common bees across much of the United States. They are specialist pollinators preferring the pollen and nectar of squashes, gourds and pumpkin flowers. The genus Peponapis is a colorful bee about the size of a honey bee. They are solitary; each female constructs her own nest with no help from kin, and nest a foot or more underground, usually in or near patches of their favorite cucurbits. 
  4. Bombus impatiens. The Impatient Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) is the preferred bumble bee of commerce. Since it can buzz pollinate, while honey bees never do, it is reared in large numbers and its colonies flown to distance localities, greenhouses needing pollinators. Since it does not naturally occur west of the Mississippi, efforts are underway to only allow it to be used in the eastern states as a managed pollinator. Its colors are muted, the yellow hair bands are often more white than a bright yellow. Compare with Morrison’s bumble bee of the western states.
  5. Osmia lignaria. The Blue Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria) is a member of the leafcutter and mason bee family (Megachilidae). Its distribution includes the Pacific Northwest USA where it is a common visitor to fruit trees in gardens and yards. This bee is often first noticed as females searching for just the right size beetle or nail hole in which to nest and raise their brood. Blue orchard bees are specialists on trees in the rose family and superb pollinator of sweet cherries and other orchard crops. They are currently being tested as pollinators of almonds in California. This bee can be very easily provided for by drilling 7-8 mm diameter holes 5 inches deep into scrap lumber. These “bee condos” can be attached to a garden shed, fence or tree. Nesting females will take up residence and you will be rewarded with bountiful fruit harvests. 
  6. Hylaeus sp. Yellow-faced bees (Hylaeus spp.) usually go unnoticed by most gardeners and hikers. These slender black/brown bees are relatively hairless and most think they are wasps. Under a microscope, they are distinctive with a bright yellow face. The only bees natives to Hawaii are a group of these Hylaeus. Due to habitat fragmentation and loss in the Hawaiian Islands, several of these rare native bees have gone extinct, while others are declining. Hyleaus nests in hollow stems. Unlike most bees, Hylaeus carries its pollen and nectar back to the nest internally, inside the crop, or honey stomach.
  7. Habropoda laboriosa. The Southeastern Blueberry Bee (Habropoda laboriosa) is a digger bee (anthophorid in the family Apidae) from southeastern states including Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. This handsome large gray bee is an efficient pollinator of southern rabbit eye blueberries. This is one of the bees, unlike honey bees, which uses sonication, produced by rapid flight muscle contractions, to eject pollen grains from the blueberry flowers.
  8. Xylocopa varipuncta. Males of the Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipuncta) are common in the southwestern states. These bees have striking colors, a large golden amber body with long hairs and brilliant green eyes. During the spring, males leave the nest galleries in which they emerged, inside a large log or tree branch and go courting. They establish hovering territories in a non-flowering shrub or tree and release a pheromone, a rose-scented blend of volatiles from within massive thoracic glands. Passing females decide which male to mate with based up his particular bee “cologne.”
  9. Bombus morrisoni. Morisson’s bumble bee (Bombus morrisoni) is one of the most colorful bumble bees found in western and southwestern states. It’s mostly yellow fuzzy body attracts our attention as it visits diverse flowers in gardens and native wildflower areas. This bee is one of several that turns its body into a living tuning fork on plants with pored anthers, like tomatoes or deadly nightshades (Solanum spp.). Other species are managed for greenhouse pollination of tomatoes which require this form of buzz pollination. 
  10. Perdita minima. The smallest bee in the United States is only 2.0 mm (about 1/16th of an inch) long. These small amber colored bees (Perdita minima) in the andrenid family nest in the soil and visit the small white flowers of mat-forming Euphorbiaceae that come up in sidewalk cracks and along dirt roadways in the southwestern states.
  11. Xylocopa virginica. Many gardeners mistake the Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) for a large bumble bee. Although both bees are large and colorful, they are only distantly related, both belonging to the large family Apidae. Carpenter bees collect pollen and nectar from a wide variety of plants, thus they are known as generalist feeders. Large carpenter bees construct their nests inside dead but sound wood. Sawdust scrapings are glued together to form the first “particle board” separating individual brood cells within their long galleries. In the east, X. varpipuncta is a minor structural timber pest, often constructing its galleries in sheds, outdoor beams or fence posts. On the bright side, these bees are amazing to watch at flowers or at their nests, and it takes decades of residency before there is any serious structural damage to support beams. The females reuse the same nesting tunnels year after year. 
  12. Bombus vosnessenskii. The Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnessenskii) is a handsome bumble bee mostly black with a yellow face and prothorax and narrow yellow abdominal band. It occurs in the western states of California, into Nevada, Washington, Oregon and into British Columbia. It does not seem to have been affected, in decline, like the formerly widespread Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis)13. Bombus affinis. The Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is a bee that was formerly common across large areas of the United States from the Midwestern states to the northeast. It started to become rare in its former ranges after 1997. The reason(s) for its demise are not entirely settled but may include pathogen spillover from European parasites, contamination in the greenhouse bumble bee rearing industry. 
  13. Bombus affinis. The Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is a bee that was formerly common across large areas of the United States from the Midwestern states to the northeast. It started to become rare in its former ranges after 1997. The reason(s) for its demise are not entirely settled but may include pathogen spillover from European parasites, contamination in the greenhouse bumble bee rearing industry
  14. Megachile sp. Leafcutter bees like this handsome Megachile sp. are members of a very diverse family, the Megachilidae, which includes the leafcutter, resin and mason bees. Females of many of these bees get their name from the pieces of leaves they collect. Have you seen neat circles clipped from the edges of rose bushes or other plants? These leaf pieces are used to line the brood cells; literally the bees are usurping the chemical defenses, against microbes, found in the leaves. Please tolerate some non-harmful cosmetic damage that the females cause and you’ll be rewarded with bountiful harvests in your home garden or orchard.
  15. Andrena cornelli. Miner bees, the family Andrenidae, are represented by the huge genus Andrena, with over 2,000 described species. Females of Andrena cornelli are common spring visitors to the large pink flowers of eastern Azalea (Rhododendron canescens). The cobwebby pollen of these flowers are carried away in strings as brood food by the Andrena females.
  16. Anthophora centriformis. Digger bees, or anthophorids like this Anthophora centriformis are members of the large family Apidae. Anthophora species are large, strikingly colored fast-flying bees that visit tubular flowers like Penstemon (“beardstongue”) in gardens and natural areas. Most digger bees nest in the ground and are solitary, living out their lives without any help, like solitary wasps. 
  17. Nomada sp. The Wandering Cuckoo Bee (Nomada sp.) is a type of digger bee (family Apidae) which does not collect pollen to feed its brood. These colorful and nearly hairless bees are cleptoparasites, or cuckoos in the nest of other bees. Like cowbirds, a female cuckoo bee sneaks her own egg in the nest while the host female is away. Once hatched, the cuckoo bee kills the host egg or larva and consumes the pollen and nectar provisions left by the host female. 
  18. Augochorella pomoniella. Sweat bees like this beautiful metallic green Augochorella pomoniella are members of the large and diverse “sweat bee” family, the Halictidae. This southwestern species is a common resident of Arizona and adjoining states. These bees have sparse hairs and their integument is a shiny metallic green.

The above information was borrowed from The Pollinator Partnership.

February 22, 2014

Arbor Day in Georgia

Filed under: arbor, day, food, Georgia, native, plants, trees, wildlife — shadygardens @ 7:40 pm
The day Arbor Day is celebrated differs from state to state due to climate differences. Georgia celebrates Arbor Day on the 3rd Friday in February. I’m running a day late, since that was yesterday. 


If you know me at all, you know I preach planting native plants, and it’s no different with trees. However, we need to take it a step further. Preserving our native birds and insects depends on planting what they need, and they need diversity.






When choosing a tree for your yard this Arbor Day, look around you. There’s no need to plant another of what you already have. Oaks are popular and they are a good tree to plant, with all those acorns for the mammals. But if you are like us, you probably have oak trees all around you. Take note of not only what you have but also what’s growing in your neighbor’s yard. Try to find something different. But native, of course. You might have to do a little research. Try doing a google search for “georgia native tree.” You could stay on the internet all day if you click every link you find.




The University of Georgia has an excellent publication on Native Plants for Georgia

There are some beautiful native trees you might not have considered. If you don’t already have one, I recommend you pick from these:

Sourwood in Fall



Sourwood, 
Oxydendrum arboreum
White fragrant summer blooms with vibrant red fall foliage. A much better choice than Burning Bush.







American Chestnut – Almost extinct, so if you find one for sale, buy it and plant it.

Red Buckeye in March



Red Buckeye
Aesculus pavia
Red panicle blooms in early Spring   develop large buckeye nuts that are food for wildlife. This tree might bloom as early as February when our Winter is mild. Looks like it will be March this year.





3 Grancy Graybeard Trees massed, Shawmut, AL







Grancy Graybeard
Chionanthus virginicus
Fragrant fluffy white blooms in early Spring with blackish drupes on female plants. Unfortunately the trees shown here were cut down to make way for the new burger joint.
We love wildlife of all kinds, pollinators, birds, and even deer and squirrels, so I consider them when I choose a new plant for our garden. We enjoy the blooms as much as the bees do, but I like to see berries, nuts, or some other kind of fruit develop later on that is not only beautiful, but food for wildlife. I hope you will also think of the birds and the bees along with furry friends when you choose what to plant for Arbor Day.

February 5, 2014

Elderberries: Nature’s Remedy for the Flu

Filed under: elderberry, flu, gardens, jelly, native, nursery, pie, remedy, sambucus, Shady, syrup, wine — shadygardens @ 3:21 pm
If you live in the Southeastern United States, you’ve probably seen an Elderberry Bush, but you might not have known what it was. Elderberry plants grow in moist ditches and creek banks all over Alabama and Georgia but is native to almost every state. It’s a beautiful plant with a graceful habit. Elderberry shrubs will grow up to 10 feet tall in one season, even after being cut to the ground.

The large deciduous plant has soft stems with lovely pinnately compound leaves that are bright green. 


In summer, flat white flower clusters form which develop into purplish black berries in late summer.

Elderberry is very easy to grow. The plant likes moist soil in full sun, but it is very drought tolerant. It spreads by suckers, so give it plenty of room. To control its size, you can cut it down in late winter, but it will still get very tall.

My favorite setting for Elderberry is beside a creek or a pond, but we don’t have one. Our first plant was a gift from the birds, after we built our greenhouse and opened the nursery. I like to think they were showing their appreciation to us for growing native plants for them. Now elderberry shrubs keep popping up in the moist soil all around the greenhouse. You can order one from us at Shady Gardens Nursery .

Elderberry is a great shrub for attracting wildlife to your garden. The large showy flowers attract pollinators, and birds love the delicious berries.

Elderberries make excellent jelly, pies, and even wine.

Recently I learned that Elderberries have medicinal value as well. Do not confuse Elderberry with American Elder or Elder Flower. When ingesting plants or their parts, it is important to know the botanical name and not just the common name. American Black Elderberry is Sambucus nigra or you might see it sold as Elderberry canadensis which is a common sub-species.

Dr. Oz recommends Elderberry Syrup for inflammation. And recent studies show that Elderberry Syrup can greatly reduce the length and severity of colds and flu. One study even revealed that Elderberry Syrup works better than Tamiflu, cutting sick days drastically, and without nasty side effects. Additionally, Elderberry syrup might also help with sinus infections, sciatica, chronic fatigue, cancer, and even aids. Elderberry sounds like a miracle cure to me. For verification of this remedy, check out Web MD

Natural Elderberry Syrup can be purchased from health food stores, but you can make your own. I got my recipe from Kelly the Kitchen Kop. If you don’t have an Elderberry Bush or are reading this when the berries are not in season, you can order Elderberry Syrup from Amazon

My husband has always said he believes God put a natural cure out there for every ailment we can have. And I think he is right!


August 22, 2013

Clethra: Sweet Pepper Bush

Filed under: Bush, butterflies, Clethra, fragrant, Hummingbird, native, pepper, pink, ruby, shrub, sixteen candles, Summersweet, Sweet — shadygardens @ 4:50 pm
Clethra is one of my favorite native plants, but more importantly, it’s a favorite plant of butterflies and other pollinators! Clethra alnifolia, better known as Summersweet or Sweet Pepper Bush, is wonderful native plant that blooms in late summer. Obviously the common name ‘Summersweet’ comes from the very sweet-smelling blooms that appear right in the heat of the summer. The other common name ‘Sweet Pepper Bush’ comes from the attractive seed capsules that closely resemble Peppercorns.
The fragrant blooms which are 6-inch long spikes last for more than a month and attract many pollinators.






There’s a Clethra for every garden, since this shrub is available in both large-growing and dwarf varieties. But when I say ‘available’ I realize that Clethra is truly difficult to find in nurseries. Why, I do not know.






My favorite is ‘Ruby Spice’ since I’m a fan of pink flowers, but the white-blooming ‘Hummingbird’ is much sought after, probably due to the beauty of the shrubs planted en mass around Hummingbird Lake at the famous Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

If your garden requires a dwarf shrub, seek out ‘Sixteen Candles’–a more compact plant that seems to have more bloom spikes than possible! The name was given to this plant by Michael Dirr because the upright bloom spikes really do resemble candles on a birthday cake. This plant is truly spectacular!



Whichever you find, you can count yourself lucky to have this plant in your garden. It requires only consistent moisture to keep it happy. (I’m sorry, I do know that consistent moisture is hard to provide in Georgia these days, but if you have a wet spot, a pond edge, a soaker hose, or even, as in our case, stopped up field lines because your wife didn’t know any better than to plant a Weeping Willow in the wrong spot, this shrub is definitely worth the trouble!)






Of course, my favorite online source for native plants is Shady Gardens Nursery.


June 16, 2013

National Pollinator Week

Filed under: flowers, garden, Georgia, honeybee, national, native, partnership, pesticide, plant, pollinator, week — shadygardens @ 12:05 pm



National Pollinator Week is June 17 – 23, 2013. Additionally, by proclamation, Governor Nathan Deal declared this week as Pollinator Week in the state of Georgia. 

In celebration of Pollinator Week, places all over the country have planned events
Since I can find no formal events close enough for us to attend, we will have our own. This week will be spent in the garden making our environment more friendly and welcoming for the pollinators. 

Pollinators include bees, butterflies, birds, hummingbirds, moths, bats, beetles, and more. We depend on pollinators for much of the food we eat. You have probably heard of the decline of the honeybee due to disease, loss of habitat, and excessive or improper pesticide use. Many other pollinators have shown as much as a 90% decrease in their populations. We all need to do our part in helping to insure the preservation of all of our pollinators. To attract more pollinators into our garden, my children and I will be planting more flowers this week. 

One of the most important things you can do to help pollinators in your area is to plant native plants. Native pollinators need native plants. 

Another thing, do not use pesticides. Pesticides cannot distinguish between a good bug and a bad one. 
For more information and ideas on how you can help, please visit The Pollinator Partnership. There is even a downloadable guide for your specific zip code to help you in choosing plants for your pollinator garden.

June 15, 2013

Gardening with Bugs

Filed under: attract, Beneficial, bug, garden, insect, lady, native, pest, pesticide, plant, pollinator — shadygardens @ 2:02 pm
If you are a gardener, you must learn to accept bugs. In the garden, there are good bugs and bad bugs.  Bad bugs, pests in the garden, are the topic for a later discussion. There are 3 types of beneficial insects you want in your garden: predators, parasitoids, and pollinators. 

Predators such as Lady Bugs, Lacewings, and Praying Mantis eat other bugs. Parasitoids like parasitic wasps lay their eggs on other bugs or insects so their young will have something to eat when they hatch. And of course you know pollinators like bees, butterflies, and moths pollinate flowers so we can have fruits and vegetables to eat.

As a gardener, you will understand the importance of attracting pollinators into the garden. Just like birds and butterflies, insects need 3 things for survival: food, water, and a place to lay eggs.

Very important – do not use pesticides. Pesticides don’t know the difference between a good bug and a bad bug, and you do not want to kill off your pollinators.

Creating a garden for the bugs is very simple. Brightly colored flowers will attract all types of beneficial insects to your garden. Choose a spot in full sun near your vegetable garden or fruit trees and amend the soil with compost. You can purchase annuals like cosmos, zinnia, marigolds, and vinca from your garden center or grow your own plants from seed.  Sunflowers are available in both annual and perennial plants. Native plants work best. Variety is important. A wide range of colors and flower types will in turn attract a wide variety of beneficial insects. For a printable list of native plants suitable for your own planting zone, click here.

September 27, 2012

American Euonymus: Strawberry Bush, Hearts a Bustin

Filed under: American, Bush, bustin, euonymus, fruits, gardens, hearts, native, nursery, orange, red, seedpod, seeds, shade, Shady, strawberry, woodland — shadygardens @ 4:15 pm
Eunonymus Americanus Strawberry Bush
Shady Gardens Nursery
It would be hard to find a more unusual and interesting shrub than the American Strawberry Bush. A native plant of the Eastern US, Euonymus Americanus is a thin little shrub with
narrow, opposite leaves, green stems and tiny, inconspicuous flowers that give
way to peculiar crimson red fruits that look like strawberries. As the fruits mature, they burst to reveal bright orange seeds, which is the reason for the common name Hearts a Bustin.

The Strawberry Bush usually
reaches about 6 feet tall, and has a loose, sprawling habit with thin,
wiry, spreading branches and an open, airy form. There are usually several main
upright stems arising in a stoloniferous clump. The twigs are distinctive green stems that stay green in the winter too.   The springtime flowers are very inconspicuous,
with five greenish yellow petals.

The fruit is a
warty red capsule about 1 inch across that resembles a strawberry. When ripe,
the capsule splits open to reveal four or five bright orange seeds that really
stand out against the deep red capsule. Strawberry Bush is an important food source for
white-tailed deer, turkeys, many songbirds, and other wildlife.

Strawberry bush prefers a rich, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. This shrub does well in shady situations, even tolerating deep shade. Drought tolerant once established.

Euonymus Americanus can be grown in most of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9.

American strawberry bush is best
used in naturalistic settings, in the shade of larger shrubs and trees. But be
sure it’s close to the path where the interesting (and beautiful) fruits can be
appreciated! 

A specimen covered with hundreds of bursting red hearts is a
remarkable sight. In autumn, the leaves turn shades of orange and red before
falling. In the winter, the leafless green twigs and stems are structurally
interesting. Strawberry bush will naturalize under ideal conditions, forming
loose, open clumps of sprawling green stems, but it would never be considered
invasive or even moderately aggressive.

You might want to plant more than one, since deer will graze not only on the fruits and leaves but also the green stems.

July 15, 2012

Invasive Plant Alternatives #2: Climbers

Filed under: clematis, Honeysuckle, invasive, Japanese, jasmine, Lonicera, native, noninvasive, Passionvine, vines, wisteria — shadygardens @ 2:01 pm
As written in my previous post, many popular landscape plants seem harmless, yet they are actually invasive plants that move quickly into the surrounding areas to crowd out native plant species. Once established, these plants are capable of strangling trees and covering up native plant species on which many of our beneficial insects and wild animals depend for their survival. This change to our environment could drastically alter our eco-system.


These popular invasive vines have a native alternative that is far superior in both beauty and behavior.



In this second installment of my 3 part series on Invasive Plant Alternatives, I intend to share some information about popular climbing vines and some alternatives to use instead of the invasive varieties.

Japanese Honeysuckle appeals to many gardeners due to its fast-growing habit and its sweetly scented blooms, but that aggressive nature and rapid growth are what has caused it to take over the South. Japanese Honeysuckle is one of the most common nuisance plants, yet it is still sold in garden centers everywhere!

I can think of quite a few good alternatives for this garden thug, but these are my favorites:
Lonicera Sempervirens
Shady Gardens Nursery
  • American Native Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, shown in the photo above, is one of the best hummingbird magnets I know of, with its large red tubular flowers that come almost year round in my garden. (There were a few blooms on mine even in January here in West Central Georgia!) If red is not your color, Lonicera sempervirens is available in a yellow blooming selection called John Clayton.
  • Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is an evergreen vine native to the Southeastern United States with bright yellow blooms in early Spring and sporadically throughout Spring into Fall.
  • Clematis is available in many varieties, both native and non-native species and a wide selection of colors. All are lovely–none are invasive.
  • Passionvine is another native perennial vine with very showy, large purple flowers and attractive, edible fruits. This vine will self-sow, but never crowds out its neighbors. Stems are delicate enough that this plant can be allowed to climb through shrubs and trees abundantly without worry of damage to the support plant.
  • American wisteria (Yes, I did say wisteria!!) is a native vine that is just as beautiful as the Chinese and Japanese wisteria, but is not invasive at all. The blooms are very fragrant. You might see it sold as Amethyst Falls wisteria, but don’t be afraid to plant it. Avoid Chinese and Japanese wisteria, because I can show you how it’s taking over much forestland in Alabama and Georgia, strangling and pulling down trees, much like kudzu.

If you have an arbor or trellis that could use some ornamentation, choose one of these climbing vines for your garden. You won’t regret it.




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